In May of 2007, there was a white supremacist rally in Knoxville, TN. About thirty supporters showed up, along with about sixty protesters. The protesters had decided to get creative. They arrived in clown gear on stilts and unicycles. Instead of shouting “White Power” along with the supporters, they pretended to misunderstand and began to (good-naturedly) throw white flour at each other while chanting “White Flour!” Then they switched to “White Flower” and handed out white flowers to anyone who wanted one. Apparently, it wasn’t done in a spirit of sarcasm, but of disrupting the hate rhetoric. The focus shifted to connection.
But man, that intentional bit of love probably took a lot of preparation…and intentional good will, practice, discipline, patience, creativity, and self-control. A lot of work.
Some people whip up hatred and get a massive following. Hatred is just so…easy. Love, on the other hand, is whole different animal. It takes work. Just ask the Good Samaritan. He tolerated an interruption to his travel plans, invested time and money in the injured guy he came across, then went about his business.
I applaud those who put in the work of love, like disrupting hate rhetoric and being people of action when words fall flat.
This isn’t an exact analogy, but I think you’ll get my point here. There’s a famous basketball player who’s now an NBA coach. During his college career, his father, an international diplomat, was assassinated. At a game shortly afterwards, some drunk fans from the opposing team started heckling him about his father to throw him off. His response? A series of three-pointers that won the game.
Love takes work.
I’ve been thinking about all of this. How do you take the power out of hate rhetoric? What actions divert attention to something positive? Richard Rohr said, “The best criticism of the bad is the practice of the better.” The clowns did that. The Good Samaritan did that. The basketball star did that.
“Practice of the better.” Sounds like a game-changer.