“From the march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, to the freedom rides and the sit-ins, to fighting for women, children and seniors, to a 2009 arrest protesting policies in Darfur, John Lewis has been getting into good trouble for decades.” From the John Lewis for Congress website.
When was the last time you got into trouble? I’m not talking about forgetting somebody’s name or running out of gas. I’m not talking about troublesome behavior – as in chewing gum in the classroom or acting anti-socially. Breaking the law might get us into trouble, although we usually don’t even count speeding or tax cheating as crimes.
Last night, I heard John Lewis and Andrew Aydin speak about their graphic novel March and it was a little like going to church. It was the perfect Holy Week activity.
The regal and honorable John Lewis challenged us to “get into good trouble.” Stand up for someone who needs help. Defend the weak. Speak up for what is right.
John Lewis was arrested over 40 times in the 1960s for getting into good trouble: defending people who simply wanted to vote or eat at the counter of a drug store. Most of us are content to engage in low-impact, low risk slacktivism. We buy Tom’s Shoes or Pink Ribbon t-shirts feeling great that our purchase helps someone without shoes or with cancer. We text special numbers to the Red Cross and – magically – $10 from our checking account is sent out to support hurricane victims.
But John Lewis preached that more of us need to be willing to stand up and march. Andrew Aydin prophesied that using social media should be the tool that gathers people to work for good, not merely a quick way to express our displeasure about Ferguson or RFRA.
We who follow Jesus might remember that he, too, was about marching. He was about making bodily sacrifices for what’s good and right. Jesus taught non-violence. And we remember that long before John Lewis and his fellow marchers were arrested and beaten, Jesus was arrested and beaten. He was even given the death sentence for getting into good trouble.
I was one of those kids who was terrified of getting into trouble. I’m still fairly trouble-averse. But there are certain things worth standing up for, defending, speaking up about. This is one of the messages of that first Holy Week. (No fooling.)
Image from the Chicago Ideas talk with John Lewis and Andrew Aydin, drawn by Dusty Folwarszny of The Ink Factory.