On Activism

"Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,
Nothing is going to get better. It's not."
-Dr. Seuss
What is it that you care about? By which I mean, what do you really, really care about? What's important to you? Are you willing to fight for it? The obvious answer is "yes." Of course you're willing to fight for it. That answer has almost certainly been drilled into your head since you were very young; maybe parents or other relatives taught you, or maybe the culture taught you, but if you really care about something, you fight for it. So here's a bigger question: why don't you?

I'm going to use Christians as my main example in this post. This is partly because the majority of my audience are Christians, and partly because there are so many Christians in America. According to a quick Google search, over 70% of Americans identify as Christian, and over 50% of those are, specifically, Protestants. This leads to a very important question. Why isn't the nation run by Christians? This country is a Democratic Republic. That means that, within the boundaries of our constitution, the majority gets to make the decisions and decide how the country will be run. And seeing as how the constitution doesn't say anything that would restrict a Christian's beliefs, it would seem as though every political decision would be compatible with the Bible, since the majority of the country identifies as Christian.

Are Christians really the majority of the country, though? I would argue that our culture has had the name "Christian" tacked onto it, with no further changes. Most of the people who identify as Christian are really just "Sunday Christians." This term refers to somebody who goes to church on Sunday and calls themselves a Christian, but doesn't really let it affect their lives.
At this point, most Christians reading this post are probably nodding to themselves, thinking about how true this is. "Yeah, he sure is calling out those Sunday Christians! Well, actually, the Sunday Christians are thinking the same thing you are. You may even be one. The problem is that the Sunday Christians don't realize that they're Sunday Christians. Because they think of themselves as "Christian" every day of the week, they don't recognize that it isn't a part of who they are.

Sunday Christian doesn't mean that you don't call yourself a Christian on other days of the week, or that you don't interact with other Christians outside of church, or even that you don't read your Bible every day. What it means is that the Christian culture is all that affects you. And this is where the Christian majority of the nation comes in. Because so many people call themselves Christians, it's safe to continue doing so. It's easy to look at all the articles online and think that Christians are being persecuted in America. Maybe we are. But are you? Has anything happened to you worse than somebody shouting at you and calling you names? Has there ever been a time where being a Christian has cost you more than you gained from the community? If you stopped being a Christian, would you lose anything? Respect of friends, standing in your community, etc.?

I don't know about you, but my friends pretty much all identify as Christian. A few people online have called me names. One person refused to buy a candy bar from me when I was fundraising for AWANA Leadership Camp. But if I stopped being a Christian, I would lose a whole lot more than I would gain. I would gain the respect of a few random people online that I'll probably never meet, and I would lose the respect of friends, family, and so on. Not that they would stop talking to me or hate me or anything, but I would lose more than I would gain. This isn't why I'm a Christian, but it is why many people are, and they don't even realize it.

Here's my point. If you aren't willing to fight for something, it isn't really important to you. Planned Parenthood, which should have been defunded so many times by now that it isn't even funny, is still in operation. In a "Christian" nation, where the majority of people believe that life begins at conception as the Bible indicates, Planned Parenthood should never have even started, and by now, even non-Christians should be able to see what's going on with them. (I recently did a post on abortion, showing why it shouldn't be legal even from an atheistic perspective. You can find that post here.)
"There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest."
-Elie Wiesel
Christians are still nodding. "I do hate abortion!" you say. So here's the question to prove it: does it show? Are you an activist? Or is activism too "extreme?" Activism means exactly what it sounds like. To be active. Here's an example: I don't eat Ben&Jerry's ice cream because they donate directly to Planned Parenthood. This isn't really activism, actually. More like abstention. But it's more than most people can do. Here are some examples of excuses that I've heard from Christians regarding this topic. "Out of my purchase, only a few cents go to Planned Parenthood. They'll keep getting money anyway." I despise abortion so much that I can't stand the thought of them getting even a few cents from me. Even if Ben&Jerry's ice cream were free, knowing where they donate their money, I would probably get sick eating it. Do you understand? I hate abortion. I believe that it is murder, and I take that belief seriously. Out of sight should not mean out of mind. Here's another excuse I've heard. "For all we know, they could be donating to someplace else too, like orphanages. The situation is too complex." First of all, we don't know that they're donating to anyplace else. This isn't a good reason to keep buying, this is a potential excuse. But let's say that you could prove that they're donating to some other cause. If this cause is so important to you that you're willing to let some of your money be donated to Planned Parenthood so that some of your money can also be donated to this other cause, then surely you would be even more willing to give up the ice cream and donate to said cause directly. This way none of your money is going to Planned Parenthood, and the organization you're donating to will end up getting more money out of it as well.

This doesn't just apply to Ben&Jerry's ice cream. It applies to Starbucks. It applies to Pepsi. It applies to Macy's. Here's the problem. People think that I'm some type of extremist. People are so addicted to their Starbucks coffee that they can't bear the thought of just shopping somewhere else, much less giving up coffee altogether. People think that I'm taking ice cream too seriously. Actually, if I were taking ice cream seriously, I would be saying to give up all ice cream. Look at the things I've mentioned giving up. If what they have in common is that they are all ice cream, then I am taking ice cream seriously. If what they have in common is that they donate directly to Planned Parenthood, then I am taking seriously what I believe to be murder. If you can't even give up your coffee, ice cream, etc. for what you believe, then how exactly are you taking your own beliefs seriously? I'm considered to be an activist, but actually, I just take my beliefs seriously. An activist isn't what I am, it's what I aspire to be someday. I write a blog post once a week and avoid certain brands. If you consider that to be extreme activism, there's a problem.

I'm not telling you what to believe. That's for my other posts. I'm not telling you (in this post) that abortion is murder, or that gay marriage is an oxymoron, or that we didn't evolve, or any of that. I ordinarily attempt to show logically why certain beliefs are accurate and important, but here, in this post, I'm not telling you what to believe. I'm telling you that whatever you believe, you should take your own beliefs seriously. If you call yourself a Christian, I should be able to see in your actions that this is what your life is about. I should be able to see that when you say you care about the Bible, you're not just flowing along with the Christian culture, you're acting like you really do care about the Bible. If you care about something, let it show.
"The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference."
-Elie Wiesel

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