Does Simplistic Opposition Against “the Other” ever work?

Can we all just stop for a moment? Amidst all the yelling and arguing, finger pointing, partisan-political emails, TV News propaganda, YouTube video conspiracy theories, and anger, we must all ask ourselves one little question… has any of this helped in anyway other than to strengthen the resolve on both sides that the other is the enemy???

Can’t we see that when you aggressively oppose the agenda or act of “the other” we actually end up strengthening their cause. The end result is always the opposite of what one’s original motivations were.  This cycle of madness is done on both sides of the aisle, and we are all to blame.  In a desire to see one movement stop we simplistically oppose it and in return strengthen the resolve and tactics of the other side.  It’s time to step back from these simplistic oppositions and begin to engage in healthy dialogue as though we are all created in God’s Image.

People are complex, issues are complex, society is complex.  When you apply simple answers to a complex world, you do not always get the results that you originally intended. If you want someone to change their mind on an issue… probably yelling at them while holding mean signs is not going to get it done. If you somehow miraculously convince one out of a thousand people through those means, the other 999 will develop greater resolve and become more organized in responding to your tirade.

Here’s an idea… why don’t we try the slow yet proven method of REAL conversation. Sit down over a cup of coffee, a beer, or a sweet tea and share your stories, experiences, and how the issue that you are passionate about hits home for you. Uh but wait, remember that conversation takes two to work, so you need to allow the other person to share their own stories and experiences.

Now I know that crusading around opposing everything may feel more like the right thing to do, but in the end we look back and must ask ourselves what have we really accomplished. No, for those who actually want to see change come are going to have to do it the old fashioned way… by rolling up those sleeves and investing yourself and much time in people and communities as you begin building bridges of mutual trust, respect, and understanding.

If not we are destined to the continuing escalation of resistance, tension, and division that has defined us as a people in America.

I’m Just Sayin!

Published by Drew G. I. Hart, PhD

Drew G. I. Hart is a theology professor in the Biblical & Religious Studies department at Messiah College with ten years of pastoral experience. Hart majored in Biblical Studies at Messiah College as an undergraduate student, he attained his M.Div. with an urban concentration from Missio Seminary in Philadelphia, and he received his Ph.D. in theology and ethics from Lutheran Theological Seminary-Philadelphia. Drew was born and raised in Norristown, Pa and has lived extensively in Philadelphia and Harrisburg, PA as well. Dr. Hart’s dissertation research explored how Christian discipleship, as framed by Black theologies and contemporary Anabaptist theologies, gesture the Church towards untangling the forces of white supremacy and the inertia of western Christendom which have plagued its witness in society for too long. As two traditions that emerged from the underside of violent and oppressive western Christian societies, he found Black theology and Anabaptism each repeatedly turning to the particularity of Jesus in the gospel narratives. From that arises an ethic of solidarity with the oppressed and pursuing liberation in Black theology and an ethic of radical peacemaking and ecclesial nonconformity in the Anabaptist tradition. Each challenge the violent and oppressive logics of mainstream western Christianity and salvage the call to follow the way of Christ. Together in dialogue they deepen our analysis of the churches failures and the need for Jesus-shaped repentance. His work beyond teaching and writing has included pastoring in Harrisburg and Philadelphia, working for an inner-city afterschool program for black and brown middle school boys, delivering lectures and leading anti-racism workshops, collaborating with local faith-based organizers and activists in his city, and doing a broad range of public theology. He is also a co-leader for a local Harrisburg faith-based relational network called FREE Together which has collaborated with POWER Interfaith, MILPA, the Shut Down Berks Detention Center movement, and a little with the Poor People’s Campaign. Trouble I’ve Seen: Changing the Way the Church Views Racism by Drew Hart, has received great reviews by Publisher’s Weekly and Englewood Review of Books. Endorsing this resource, Shane Claiborne said, “This book is a gift from the heart of one of the sharpest young theologians in the United States. Hold it carefully, and allow it to transform you--and our blood-stained streets.” As a text, Trouble I’ve Seen utilizes personal and everyday stories, Jesus-shaped theological ethics, and anti-racism frameworks to transform the church’s understanding and social witness. Trouble I’ve Seen focuses on white supremacy as an overarching framework for understanding racism, with careful attention to its systemic and socializing dimensions. However, unlike sociology textbooks on the subject Dr. Hart also considers the subversive vocation of Jesus and the nonviolent yet revolutionary implications his life ought to have for his followers today. His newest book project is entitled Who Will Be a Witness?: Igniting Activism for God’s Justice, Love, and Deliverance and will be published September 1, 2020. Who Will Be A Witness? invites the church to liberate its centuries long captivity to supremacist practices, and to expand its restricted political imagination in view of Jesus’ messianic reign. The book guides disciples of Jesus into joining God’s delivering presence through scriptural reasoning, historical reflection, practical theology for congregational life, social change theory, and the Christian call to love our neighbor. It is written for congregations, leaders, and students that understand that pursuing God’s justice goes way beyond waiting around for electoral seasons to come around. It is about the ongoing vocation of the Church right now, at the grassroots level, seeking after the wellbeing of their neighbors through faithful, strategic, and concrete action. Drew recently joined the Inverse Podcast team serving as a cohost along with Australian peace activist Jarrod Mckenna. Together they interview interesting people and explore how scripture can turn our ethical imagination and the violent and unjust systems of our world upside-down, which contrasts with interpreting the Bible as a tool for the status quo. Dr. Drew Hart was the recipient of bcmPEACE’s 2017 Peacemaker Award, a 2019 W.E.B. Dubois Award from a Disciples of Christ congregation, and in October 2019, Dr. Hart was chosen as Elizabethtown College’s 2019 Peace Fellow. Each award recognized him for his local and national justice work and public theology. You can find Drew Hart on Twitter and Facebook, or you can catch him as he travels and speaks regularly across the country to colleges, conferences, and churches. Drew and Renee, and their three boys (Micah, Dietrich, and Vincent) live in Harrisburg, PA and attend Harrisburg First Church of the Brethren.

One thought on “Does Simplistic Opposition Against “the Other” ever work?

  1. True and right on. Unfortunately (and I include myself in this) many people not only get their news from media but also form their opinion directly from it. To the world It seems almost antiquated that in this day we should both think independently about and converse with others BEFORE forming our opinions. And for Christians this also includes reading the bible with all honesty rather than just cherry picking verses. In my opinion FWIW, we all could do with a lot less of the talking heads on TV, replacing it with true conversation. Good post.

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