It used to be true that an agitator was necessary to clean dirty laundry in a washing machine. Today High Efficiency Washers are considered better at cleaning while using less water. And yet machines with agitators have shorter cycles and cost less. It’s matter of personal choice in terms of whether one uses a washing machine with or without an agitator.
Bernice King tweeted this over the weekend about her father, Martin Luther King Jr.:
People were offended by him speaking truth to power, calling attention to and engaging nonviolence to end racism, war and poverty. In fact, his ‘Letter from Birmingham Jail’ was in response to clergy who called him an “outside agitator.”
I overheard a person I love refer to some people as “agitators” recently expressed as a wretched epithet. I was so surprised that I did not speak up to challenge him. What I wish I’d said:
- “Actually Jesus was an agitator.”
- “Actually I’m an agitator too.”
Since when is it not okay to be an agitator?
The answer lies in where we are politically. This is one of political polarities of our time.
- For political progressives, the MSD students in Parkland are the best kind of agitators. They are calling for peaceful – albeit angry – protests. (I would be angry if someone shot up my high school too. Anger is fundamentally about hurt.) They are not merely “talking the talk.” They are working to register voters, change laws, and speak up about injustice. Our fallen soldiers from the Revolutionary War on died for the right to protest. This is what democracy looks like.
- For political conservatives, the MSD students in Parkland are the worst kind of agitators. They stand up even to members of Congress in ways that strike some adults as being disrespectful. They are not “grieving appropriately.” They are being used as pawns by The Left. They might even be paid crisis actors.
Jesus was an agitator. He was not executed for chucking little lambs under his chin. He was killed for sedition.
This is not to say that Jesus picked fights, used his power to draw attention to himself or acted like a bully. On the contrary, Jesus stood up for the poor and the powerless against the bullies. When the temple was turned into the opposite of what God intended, Jesus was not a bystander who kept the peace. This story appears inallfourGospels – which means we are supposed to pay special attention.
I find myself frustrated at my siblings in Christ who decry “agitators” and I wonder:
- Is there any injustice that they would speak up against in a public way?
- Is there any cause for which they would miss a day of school or work?
- If your child or your child’s friends were killed in school by a shooter with an assault weapon, what would they do to make the world safer for other children and their friends?
Protesting is not everyone’s go-to response regarding injustice. And it is certainly not going to help if all we do is protest without next steps. The purpose of protesting in favor of or against something is to rally people and inspire them to instill real change.
Real change happens when we vote and our votes are counted. Real change happens when we use our personal power to persuade organizations to divest or invest in a particular organization or cause. (Exhibit A)
Biblical justice is political. Jesus is the Bible’s Exhibit A.
Image of (L to R) Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students Cameron Kasky, Emma Gonzales, David Hogg, and Delaney Tarr