Friday, May 14, 2021

Hopeful Thinking - Saturday, May 15, 2021 - The Noble Goal

What does the term “woke” really mean? To some people it’s a battle cry, to others it’s an inspiration for eye-rolls or snide comments. Most of us fall in the middle. Like many things that have a tendency to confuse us, it’s an intention. The term ‘woke,’ in the broad sense, references a desire to be more aware of social justice issues. 

In the minutia, however, there are great variations to the community of woke-ness. Those who tend to be more extreme in their views are the ones who also tend to be the most noticed, and therefore become the defacto prototypes of how a concept is publicly defined. That’s unfortunate, because the social justice community, by and large, is an extremely loving, gentle, and compassionate one, who wishes for unity among us all. It just doesn’t always look like that. Because that’s not the view we’re often given.

The same is true on the opposite side of the social and political spectrum as well, of course. The more extreme someone’s perspective, the more likely it is to find its way into the news cycle. Why else do you think the face-painted, bare-chested gentleman in the furs and horns known as “the QAnon shaman” became the predominant media face of the January 6 insurrection? Because he was the weirdest one. 

Though I personally disagree with the politics of that group, and certainly disavow their actions that day and since, I am quite certain that not all of them were accurately represented by the QAnon shaman as their media spokesemblem. Even other QAnon’s probably winced.

So let’s take a lesson from that. Let’s remember how things are presented to us, keep their reporting methodologies in mind, and figure out for ourselves that these extreme ideas and individuals act as only a tip of an iceberg; a portion, by the way, which cannot accurately describe nor represent the experience occurring among the rest of it. The tip of the iceberg does not speak for the whole. The tip of the iceberg barely even knows the rest exists beneath the surface of the water. They think their small portion in the sun represents a totality. Have compassion for their misguidance, even as we work toward preventing them from causing harm.

There are a small percentage of people in the social justice advocacy community as well whom I find to be a little tiresome. I won’t presume to psychoanalyze them. But I will always honor their intention. They seek for an improvement in the world. They seek equity among us. They are advocating for fairness. That will always be an intention that sits on the right side of history. It is honorable work. Thank God for them.

Sometimes, however, when we overlay good intentions with challenging personalities, the resulting behavior and rhetoric ends up becoming a distraction to the honorable work attempting to occur. Their extremism becomes an obliterating factor, even a hindering one, to their stated objective. But this is part of the learning curve. 

What else should we expect? Humanity is dragging itself from the dark ages still. And when you step back a few paces you can see how far we’ve come in just a few hundred years. True progress expresses itself in milestones spaced often farther apart than a human lifespan. It’s hard to really appreciate just how much we’ve accomplished since the invention of the printing press over 500 years ago. Maybe we should cut ourselves a bit of slack.

The full spectrum of those whose intention it is to create equality in the world, including both social justice extremists as well as those just slightly left-of-center, collectively accomplish the objective together. We need loud activists in the streets as well as those who quietly vote with their dollars. Both should develop a greater appreciation for one another.

When someone with extremer views than yours from either side of the spectrum presents themselves to you, be kind. Be compassionate. Keep it in perspective and remember that extreme views never truly represent the whole. And because of that, they may live out their chapter in the sun, but they will not last. All pendulums tend toward the center over time. Patience is asked of us even though it requires a lifetime of effort. We will not enjoy the shade of the trees we plant today. Be at ease with that.

Have patience with the fact that we are currently engaged in a very good fight. And we are winning. Look at what’s occurring in the world with a hopeful eye. You’ll see the trend as well. We are trending toward unity. Don’t mistake one step back for an undoing of two steps forward just made. Progress is a cha-cha. Be a comfort to those who fear it and remind them that history is on their side. Keep working.

Criticizing the woke community will get us nowhere. It’s just fighting amongst ourselves, and that’s not a sibling battle we have time to pause for right now. Pay attention to the ideas they are trying to express and if they are loving, if they are expressing a desire that all people be treated equally, live up to that idea in your own way, and with your own words. Be a part of the solution.

The military tactic to “divide and conquer” is an old method of keeping power. It still works, but not as well as it used to. The Internet is a savvy mechanism, and has a way of keeping us connected even amid an onslaught of untruths about one another. Unenlightened people still find ways to employ the divide and conquer trope, however, in order to retain their power. Rival countries manipulate our social media to keep us fighting amongst ourselves, and no less is true for some of our own domestic powers. Don’t let them win.

The best news is they aren’t really winning, anyway. The most they can hope to do is slow the progress they fear so much. Or at least manage to prolong its existence for the rest of their own lives so they don’t have to experience it for themselves. 

Take the time to notice what the majority of people in this world want: peace. Even though they all have their ways of bringing in about, and their ideas of what will constitute it, peace is the goal. Thousands of years of gradually decreasing warfare, despite an orders of magnitude increase in population, is evidence that goal isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. It is winning its slow and steady race.

You don’t have to go to the protests in order to be a part of that progress. You don’t have to make a demonstration of your position in the world. Simply voting is enough. But keep in your prayers and good thoughts those who are moved to do differently. Their goal is no less noble than yours. 


  1. The goal is peace on Earth. Most men and women want to have the simple needs of life available to them. We want to have a decent roof over our heads, food to feed our families, work to support our families, a church we can depend on to fill our hearts and souls, and a community that is peaceful. Let us Vote for all men. Let there be no war and descruction tearing apart peace and harmony on Earth.

  2. Jesus said the lukewarm will be spewed out of his mouth.
    This is the day to stand up for God. Stand against evil.
    Don't be all warm and fuzzy.

    1. That was from Revelations, not Jesus. Jesus was warm and fuzzy.

  3. I was missing the history of the word #woke and the phrase #stay woke, which were originally created by Black activists and are considered to be AAVE(African American Vernacular English). The anti-woke movement has diluted this to mean any progressive idea. Please see this article