What I Did Not Like About #ItIsTimeAU

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The back story is long. If you have no idea of what I’m talking about, you can read the context to this post here, here, here, or here.

If you know a thing or two about what happened, let’s jump right in.

Here are 4 things that I didn’t like about #ItIsTimeAU ( and by #ItIsTimeAU I mean my overall sentiments on both the initial video as well as the formal response ).

1. How it shakes my understanding of communication.

My knee-jerk reaction to the initial video was that it may not have followed due process. Many questions arose: “What is the policy for notifying grievances at AU? Was a mass social media post lacking context the greatest of methods? “Why was there….”  And so on.

Many of them were answered. Some, better than others.

That being said, I believe the video successfully did one thing:  jump-start a previously dormant, yet utterly important, conversation through an intentionally provocative platform. It got people talking. It got people thinking.

I’ve come to realize that what I don’t like about the video is not necessarily the mode nor the motivation of the video as much as how it shakes my perception of effective communication. 

Can I critique the means while conceding its effectiveness? I think so.

2. How it causes me to check my biases.

The moment the video surfaced was the moment my notion of being the ultimate embracer of all was put to the test. I soon had to realize that a cross-cultural mutt does not an inclusive person make.

Dialoguing with individuals with differing viewpoints forced me to check my biases.

I realized that I was prejudiced against different types of people: those who were unwilling to have a civil conversation, those who were dogmatic about their position at the expense of other possible viewpoints, and those who cherished binary thinking when it comes to complex issues.

Silly video. Caused me to check myself.

3, How it challenges my understanding of leadership.

The formal response from Andrews is arguably one of the best live examples of inspiring leadership I’ve seen yet.

Just when I thought that I had a solid understanding of what leadership should look like, Dr. Luxton and the administration of AU gave me something new to consider.

From the beginning of her speech which rivaled Kendrick Lamar’s “We Gon Be Alright” till the end of the video, I saw what Christ-like, humble, classy, leadership should look like.

More to learn about leadership. Surely.

4, How it sensitizes me to the “other.”

Birds of a feather flock together. Because to do otherwise would require work.

It is far more comfortable to be with like-minded individuals than those who differ from you. Both the videos, in a significant way, forced me to look outside my comfort zone of sameness to interact with those who held a different perspective than mine.

The more I interacted with the “other” dissident voice, the more I was frustrated. The more I confronted the reasons for my frustrations, the more I grew.

——

Self-examination is hardly exciting.

The closer you look at yourself, the more you have to confront and endure. Growth and progress, sadly, happens less in ease and more in these moments of discomfort.

Therefore, similar to embracing pain at a gym to improve muscular fitness, almost everything I didn’t like about #ItIsTimeAU has been beneficial and redemptive to my soul.

My hope, for you my brother and sister, is that the celebration of this moment ( or the lack thereof ) does not distract you from the introspection of your heart.

What were your thoughts about #ItIsTimeAU? Leave a comment below!

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A Letter to the Silent Disciple (A Christian response to Ferguson, Garner, and recent events)

Dear Silent Disciple,

I get it.

Everyone else is talking while you’re quiet. You’re been following the story, albeit from afar, through your twitter feed or FB newsfeed. Some of your friends have been picking and choosing chairs on the table of truth; whether it be the ones labelled “black lives matter,” “all lives matter,” or “justice matters.”  People are streaming in, picking their chair of choice, all the while discussing and debating on where they stand and what should be done.

But you haven’t picked.

You are not even in the room.

I don’t know what your deal is. Maybe the reputation you’ve garnered in social circles or social media circles is more important to you than the family of Garner.  Maybe you have more important things to worry about than what’s happening hundreds of miles away. Maybe the atrocities that are happening elsewhere don’t really concern you directly. Maybe you believe that whatever you say or do is only going to be a pebble toss on a sea of opinions. Maye you’re just disinterested in the whole thing. Maybe you just don’t care.

But maybe…. you do.

Maybe you’re legitimately concerned. Maybe you’re so concerned that you are trying to figure out what’s the right course of action YOU need to take. Maybe you’ve been raised in a cross cultural context where everybody gets along. Maybe you’re struggling to pick a chair because you hear truth in all sides. Maybe you don’t even WANT to sit because you are so deeply troubled that you just have to move from one side of the table to the other to be there for all people. Maybe you are wondering what all this has to do with you being Christian.

Maybe you are wondering what I’m wondering right now:

As a disciple of Christ, should I respond? If so how?

If, in case you’re wondering that, this is my ‘two rupees’: ( because #SriLanka )

Let me be the first one to tell you this:

It’s OK to be silent.

I know you’ve seen many lash out at each other using their polemical whips laced with stats and statements. You’re so distressed by the opinion wars that you’d rather shut up and do what you can quietly.

That’s ok, because Jesus had a disciple just like you.

Someone who was didn’t really want to be a part of the action, but remained behind the scenes throughout his entire discipleship journey. He was a follower. A disciple. Yet silent. Unassuming. Quiet.

And here’s the kicker:

He was silent even while his Lord and Master was being crucified. Even while His hands were raised. Even while He couldn’t breathe. Even when everyone around Him was convinced that His life didn’t matter.

This silent disciple is named in the bible as Joseph of Arimathea.

Now before you get a little too comfortable and try to add him on Facebook, let me share with you what else we know about this dude:

“This man ( Joseph ) went to Pilate and asked him for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be given to him. And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his new tomb which he had hewn out of the rock; and he rolled a large stone against the door of the tomb and departed.” ( Matthew 27:58-60 – Bible)

Joseph was quiet. But not for long. When he knew he had to act, he acted. In fact, Joseph did what Jesus’ other well-intentioned, opinionated disciples were unwilling to do; sanitize his body and give him the dignity of a burial.

So what am I getting at?

Bro, sis, It’s ok to be silent. But fortunately or unfortunately for you, it won’t be ok forever.

I know it’s tough. But it was even tougher for Joseph. Being a wealthy Pharisee, he risked his social standing, any hopes of being promoted, his job, his family, and maybe even his life to do what he did. But when he knew he needed to do something out of his love for his Lord, he just went ahead and did what he could.

Didn’t tweet awater-drop-ripplebout it. Didn’t Facebook it. Didn’t make a documentary out of it. Just did it.

Friend. Both an earthquake and a pin drop accomplishes the same thing: Breaking silence. So please don’t compare your contribution to the conversation to someone else’s. Do what you can. It could be as small as “liking” a post because it shows solidarity with what you believe is right, or as big as being a part of a march to create awareness to pray for the victims as well as those who trying to do the right thing. Do you.

When should you do it? Only you know. Joseph didn’t ask.

At the end of the day, as a fellow disciple of Christ writing to a fellow disciple, whether you are coaxed into opinion or silenced by it, I want you to remember this:

Jesus didn’t need to go on a protest because His very life WAS a protest.

A protest against injustice. A protest against pride. A protest against sin.

My prayer for you brother, sister, is that this Christmas you will not see Jesus as a vulnerable baby but as a born king; whose birth spoke to the injustice of the Bethlehem infanticide, whose death answers injustice everywhere else, and whose soon return sings of an existence where joy is indescribable and “injustice” is indecipherable.

Merry Christmas.

What’s the right course of action for you as a disciple of Christ? Please share your thoughts and comments below!