Musings at 3 a.m.

January 26, 2005 — Leave a comment

Grace had a nightmare and I’ve been getting her back to sleep. Of course, now I am pretty much awake. Sigh…

I’ve had one other thought on my last post on threats. The question rises, of course, whether there are times that threatmaking is appropriate. Take Jennifer’s grandmother for example. She encountered a situation that very much seemed unjust (the misuse of funds earmarked for mission). Faced with this injustice, she decided to hold back her donations in protest of that action. Or, take the current United Methodist boycott against Taco Bell. Basically we are offering a threat of withholding business until the company changes policy to encourage living wages among those who provide the food.

In both instances, threats were offered, threats which I think may be justified. Standing up in the face of injustice may require extreme action. This of course then begs the question of how to determine what is unjust, that is, one person’s injustice may be a simple inconvenience for another.

Yet, here is the difference between threats on behalf of others and those that I railed against in my last post. Certainly threats are a tool in battling injustice. Yet, rarely are they the first tool in the arsenal. They are only used after conversation regarding the injustice. In example, representatives from the General Board of Church and Society and other agencies were in touch with the Taco Bell folks prior to asking for the boycott to encourage changes in policy. The move to threatmaking was the course of last resort.

The frustration point for me is that threatmaking almost always negates the possibility of relationship. It is a power tactic that suggests that my power is stronger and more vital than your power. It is rarely a weapon of humility and reconciliation. This is one reason that I believe it is a tool of last resort, only when other means of effecting change are exhausted.

How I long for folks to come to me and say, “Hey, I’m not sure I like what we’re doing,” or “I think you made a mistake,” rather than “If you don’t change to meet my way I’m going away.” How does the latter foster relationship and conversation?

Enough on this topic, for the truth of the matter is that there are many more people in the church who want to foster relationship than hinder it. In every community there are those whose tactics for functioning in the community are frustrating. But, there are many more who understand that the goal is fostering the well being of the community and the world, not implementing a personal agenda.

The phrase over the door at the recording sessions for “We Are The World” is so right: “Check your ego at the door.”

Maybe we need to put that over the doors of our churches?

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