Activists Don’t Want Peace


...unless the other side surrenders unconditionally, as the Allies demanded that Germany and Japan do in WWII. No negotiations; total, abject and unconditional surrender, accompanied by the utter devastation of their countries and populations.

Activists, including protesters, violent and nonviolent, jihadists, and people who take “us vs. them” political and economic stands, will also settle for no less.

Pause for thought: I want to hear from everyone, activists on all sides, moderates, even the apathetic, before I settle in on what I believe to be right. And even then I don’t believe that I am coming down from a mountain with stone tablets written by God.

Why? Is is because activists really believe that the world would be a better place if and only if 100% of what they believe is right is implemented? As the Allies correctly did in WWII? No. It is because being an “I’m Right” activist is the way they see themselves, their lifestyles; it is their raison d’être. This is what is what really is at stake for them.

Let’s start with an easy example. Peace efforts in the Middle East are frequently sabotaged. Why? Doesn’t everyone want peace? No, activists don’t. If there was peace, they would no longer have a special place in their society. Instead of being in charge of a small or large group of fellow activists, thereby earning their version of respect and honor, while likely being supported by a larger, activist organization, they would be working in a restaurant, or doing electrical work–something no doubt more mundane. And they totally miss the point that real respect, if not glory, goes to those who show up everyday, adding value to the world by working and taking care of their family and friends.

Closer to home, what about race activists? Their anger at the deaths of innocent young black men focuses exclusively on their claims about racism causing deaths of black men at the hands of white cops. When they found that in some cases it was black officers shooting black citizens, their color criticism changed from “white” to “blue.” In other words, they pivoted from racist cops being the issue to a police in general being the problem. But their activism conveniently ignores the 95+% of black deaths that are not caused by police. We’ll ignore for now the argument that the vast majority of the 5% are completely justified. We don’t need to make that case to make our point here.

I am deeply suspicious of their motives, and you should be, too. If they want to stop the killing of innocents, why ignore 95% of the problem? Let’s look at an obvious parallel. Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) strikes predominantly African-Americans, with about 8% of the African-American population carrying the sickle cell trait. If an organization raised, say, $100M, to find a cure and spent 95% of its funds looking for causes for SCD outside of the African-American population, would you say they were dedicated to finding a cure? Or might they have another motive?

It is comparatively easy to march, protest, shout across the street and take a stand in front of cameras. This approach results in headlines, praise from your comrades, and a certain measure of respect and dignity from within their community. All while addressing 5%–or less–of the problem.

It is much harder to tackle the other 95%. This requires far more than a march or a TV interview. It would take years of working in those communities. Listening. Encouraging. Being ignored and ridiculed. Working with people one-on-one over years and years. Few–and fleeting–headlines. S-l-o-w progress initially. But increasing progress over time. And that is exactly how things get fixed in a way that they stay fixed.

This is what we are all called to do in the various parts of our lives. We are not called to satisfy ourselves or to make us look good. We are called to get the job done. Not to be right or to “win.” But to get the job done. To dig in. Find our respect in the eyes of people who understand what is going on. Find glory in the eyes of our God.

What are you called to do? Please share that in the comments. I’d like to hear. As would others. I am called, in part, to create an excellent, engaging and motivating blog site. Followed by a book or books. I am clearly on a mission here.

Will Luden, writing from my home office at 7,200’ in Colorado Springs.

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8 Responses

  1. Charles Reply

    Very true in what you say — Protestors don’t seek peace. As I’ve heard said, it’s turned into the “grievance industry”.

  2. Juliet Reply

    I had a coaching client who has been an environmental activist for over 40 years. He believed he was on a moral crusade. His attitude was to fight and never give up. The more the corporations failed to feel the sacredness of the rivers and public lands, the more incensed he became. He came to me to get coaching for an important show down with “the enemy”. How could he deliver a persuasive argument?
    My answer? I told him to listen: really put himself in their shoes. The corporations were bigger and stronger and he could never fight and win against them. He could, however, find common ground. I believe that almost everyone on earth wants there to be a habitable planet in 500 years. Even corporations understand the concept of sustainability. If he wanted them to listen to him, he must listen first and address their concerns along with his in his answer.
    He understood my point but he lacked the capacity to carry it out in the heat of the moment. It is very difficult to truly listen to those whose beliefs, attitudes, and needs are very different from ours because they are threatening to us. It takes practice, just like playing the violin takes practice. Reading self help books will not help us to develop the capacity to act differently any more than reading a book about violins will help us to play.
    I look for “practice partners”: people who think differently than I do. The challenge is to have a discussion without it turning into an argument and the key is to listen…

    • Will Luden Reply

      Juliet, I love, love your response. I am having one of those, “I wish I had said that” moments. The Practice Partner is a superb idea. Dramatically better than the cliche- and poster-driven shouting across the street that substitutes for debate today. It is like we have become a parade of TVs, all broadcasting our messages–without the ability (or desire) to listen.

  3. Roger Paget Reply

    Apples, oranges, and kumquats… My models of activism probably would include Jesus, the Dalai Lama, Pope Frank, and the US founding fathers and mothers. Easy to forget that icons of strict construction, like most of our founders, lived in mortal danger thanks to their activism. Passivity and subservience, or just showing up and plugging along, surely are not the attributes many of us Americans would hold paramount. Activists, when we approve, are constructive and appealing, even uplifting–but, when we disapprove, they are destructive, negativist and altogether unappealing.

    • Will Luden Reply

      Roger, thanks you for your thoughtful comments. Would it have made any difference if I had clarified by separating today’s self-serving (my observation), spotlighted-by-the-media activists from the Sons of Liberty and Gandhi? Cheers, Will

  4. Marcel Kincaid Reply

    You should go chat with some of these people, asshole.

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