This July 4th I Must Protest

I’ll see your protest and raise you a protest. This great country we call home affords us many privileges, one of which is the freedom of speech. Because of this first amendment right protests are now more common than Peachtree Road Race participants. I suspect there will be people this July 4th protesting all they don’t like about America –policies, programs, prejudices, and our president. I’m not crazy about a lot of what I see in Washington either, but I am choosing to protest a few other things this July 4th. I hope you will join me.

I am protesting ingratitude

I will choose to be grateful for the freedoms I enjoy. I had no control over where I was born, but because I was born in America (fact check - actually I was born in London, but on a US military base), I live a good and relatively easy life today. Because of this country I have access to food every day, am able to worship the God of my choice, and get to choose what I am going to do today. These are just a few of the many privileges we all enjoy, and likely take for granted, as citizens of this country.

I am protesting irresponsibility

I will choose to be responsible with what I have been given. Jesus taught that to whom much is given, much is required. Whether you follow Jesus or not, I hope this statement just makes sense deep in your heart as the right way to live. Rather than protest when I sense my country is not living by this value, I will try to make a small difference by serving and giving to those in need. And I will pray our leaders will figure out a way to be generous and responsible at the same time – the two do not have to be mutually exclusive.

I am protesting disrespect

For those who choose to peacefully protest this July 4th (or any other time), I will respect their right to do so. But when those protests are not peaceful or show disrespect to our country, her flag or her leaders, I must protest in return. As Merle Haggard has sung, "If you're runnin' down my country, man, you're walkin' on the fightin' side of me." (how can I write on patriotism without a country music reference?)

I am protesting missing the point

Many worthwhile causes have been aided by the attention they received through protests. Fueled by the Civil Rights protests of the 1960’s unfair and unjust laws in our country were finally changed. In 1989 protests in East Berlin led to the end of the Communist regime and the tearing down of the Berlin Wall. In 1773 our own Boston Tea Party protest was the precursor to the American Revolution. So, the very freedoms we celebrate this week were born out of protests. For all these reasons it would be foolish to suggest there is no place for protests, yet it seems to me examples of difference-making protests are few and far between. More often protests raise some awareness but elicit little change.

This leads to the key question: what is the point of a protest? If it is to raise awareness, then continue to protest. If it is to make a difference then I suggest a different strategy. What if the hours and energy that go into a typical protest over a perceived evil were instead spent bringing about good? In other words, instead of pointing out what is wrong, roll up your sleeves and work for what you believe is right and good.

Andy Stanley has accurately said it is much easier to make a point than to make a difference. Don’t settle for the easy route of protest and complaint; instead take the road less traveled of doing good. Because most protests do little more than make a point, I am protesting missing the point.

Happy 4th of July! I pray you will enjoy, be thankful and celebrate the freedoms we have. And join me in standing against anything that diminishes these liberties.