The Right and the Pragmatic

Lots of politics lately. War. Guns. Refugees. Women’s rights. Climate Change. Racism.

All of it explodes on Facebook and traditional news. I find most of the time the issues are incredibly complex with stakeholders on all sides. I have Facebook friends on most of these sides too.

Then there’s me. I’m a teacher. I work hard and pay my taxes. I’m doing my best to help raise great kids who will contribute to improving the world (secular language) or working towards the restoration of all things (christian language). I like movies and books and beer. I also enjoy animated discussions on politics and religion.

Which brings me to this realization, which immediately caused me to recall a dynamic in the beautiful film, Selma, which I’ll draw upon in a moment.

Consider problem X.

The majority usually wants a pragmatic solution to the problem where most people are left unaffected by any changes. Very modest changes are permitted of course so that the majority can feel good about themselves. Sweeping changes could upset the social order, the economic system, and even challenge common sense.

The voice in the wilderness tends to call for those sweeping changes. This voice tends to stand on a soapbox. Its reason to speak is that it is right (as in righteous, just). There is an injustice and the evidence is that there is a population segment that is being marginalized.

The majority might say this voice is whining, that they should just get in line with everyone else. After all look at all the people who are happy without having to make these changes.

Sweeping changes do upset the status quo. And what if that status quo is holding people in a system where they are powerless? I must refer readers to the extraordinary book by Bryant L Myers, Walking with the Poor at this point if they care at all about understanding poverty. Perhaps the status quo should change?

The majority will say that change is best introduced slowly. But this is only because they want to implement the change themselves to ensure there is not a shift in power.

Selma. The powerful dynamic that I was struck with was Dr. Martin Luther King’s insistence to then President Lyndon Banes Johnson. King was insisting that Johnson force the states to change their blatantly racist laws and practices immediately. Johnson said he needed to allow time to allow the states to get on board. King proceeded with non-violent protests and was eventually martyred. He is the one we remember as the great civil rights advocate, not Johnson.

As a Christian I must always cede power that is given to me (or awarded to me at birth based on my race, gender, citizenship) to the greater cause which is righteousness. Which is lifting up those who are powerless. Which means I may even see myself in that unhappy minority.


  1. Bill Lindemulder

    I like it! Here is my issue with radical change – who’s implementing the change and what is the motivation for the change? I love big change in culture that stems from the everyday citizens themselves. Society sees that the education system could be much better (I like this use of language instead of “is not working”) – and as a result, over time, teachers change how things are being done – bringing parents and admin along with them. Society realizes that there is a huge injustice when it comes to gender issues – and even though we don’t like slow, slowly more and more people are coming around. There are many more examples I’m sure. I get uncomfortable when government implements “big change” mostly because the motivation for the big change is rarely done ‘for the people’, but rather to push a political agenda to implement an ideology and/or to ensure keeping power. This applies to all political parties and systems. This of course comes from someone who strongly dislikes ‘big’ government and therefore would rather see change come (or stem) from the people. (And no ‘the government’ is not ‘the people’)

  2. Thanks for the response! I’m with you here Bill. I didn’t discuss how that change should come into effect – this of course is the difficult part of the whole ordeal. Violence is often used because the imbalance of power is so severe – I’m not a fan of this, though I have friends who are. A swell of popular support is a slow go, favourable since there are fewer deaths, but often the balance of power doesn’t shift and the injustice is simply watered down a bit, crumbs for beggars. Legislation, meh, doesn’t change hearts, but can put legal recourse in place. That’s three ways, lots more I suppose.

    I do see people organizing under political banners to effect changes – for instance the AB NDP will be advocating much more strongly for the LGBTQ community, but again, there is the legislative limitation. Necessary, but not very effective.

    The way I advocate for is the way of love. Think Dr. King but on a local level, seeing communities transformed by the means of sacrificial love. It’s something that can be organized and taught, but it’s most effective when people cast themselves entirely into God’s kingdom. Something I hope I can one day say I’ve done.

Leave a Reply