29/02/12 From the Minister's Soapbox. Protest comes in many forms...
Protest comes in different forms and we are moved by different things, most of us have probably had little to do with any protests and I don’t imagine many of my readers have engaged in civil disobedience. Over the years some top notch campaigns will have come and gone without our help. Perhaps we always meant to do something about apartheid etc. We may have thought we would write a letter and then forgot all about it. The British are not good at complaining we are often told.
Today twitter, internet petitions, blogs and web sites are giving some groups quite a lot of clout. Some groups that should not succeed are doing well because they have got publicity and they are making the most of it. But not everyone captures that amount of coverage. There are a lot of people who fall through the net of publicity and concern. If we believe in justice we should be careful to watch out for such people.
Some of you will know that I have been working with a father caught up in an international custody battle which involved the abduction of his two sons. We managed to get his case onto BBC Spotlight and it appeared in the Times as well. But all other routes including politicians, courts and the Justice Department have proved impossible to pin down. We haven’t been able to make enough noise that authority decides it better be seen to be doing something.
Before you man the barricades or paint your placards you might like to know that certain subjects won’t get very far if media, government, or big business decide to batten down the hatches and wait for the protests to go away. When Jerry Springer the opera came to television a few years ago 60,000 complaints flooded in demanding that the broadcast be cancelled. The BBC said it had been an organised protest so they discounted it. Not that long ago a rather controversial bunch demanded something from the BBC and with only a few thousand emails and a very organised campaign it got it’s way.
At Christmas this year I wrote to Waitrose and complained about an ice cream advert in their magazine showing the three wise men bringing Italian ice cream to the Nativity scene. It was one of several adverts I saw this year using Nativity images. I was more interested in making a point and didn’t really expect to change the world. However, Waitrose wrote back with the news that not only would they not be running the advert again but the company who made the stuff would not be using it again either. Perhaps they have something else in mind for next Christmas.
Jesus told the parable of the persistent widow who kept going to the judge looking for a ruling. She wore him down with her visits.
Jesus is talking about prayer but he is also talking about persistence. Slavery, child labour and apartheid disappeared because determined people worked for a better world. Wilberforce, Wesley and many others gave benefits to our society because they would not be silenced and would not go away. If we don’t speak up about today’s issues we can hardly complain when the town and the country end up like a dogs dinner. God asks us to look out for those who are ignored and left behind. He asks us to speak up in the face of injustice and wrongdoing and it’s not easy. So choose carefully and pursue what really matter in life.