Check out Whosoever's latest Godcast, if you haven't already. I had a great interview with Dr. Hyena (who is concealing his identity to avoid harassment from the Klan), one of the organizers of the Ku Klux Klowns that totally put the KKK in their place in Knoxville earlier this year.
Their amazing counter-protest is exactly what Jesus is getting at when he counsels us to not resist evil. We don't let the evil of the world set the rules of engagement. Instead of angrily yelling at the evil, the Klowns deftly lampooned them, ending their protest early. This is what Walter Wink calls Jesus' "Third Way."
The Godcast also features an interview with transgender author and consultant Vanessa Sheridan. She's an amazing woman who has written a book reconciling her transgender identity and her spirituality. She also works to educate the corporate world about TG issues.
Here is the text of my meditation moment for the Godcast on how Dr. Hyena and Vanessa Sheridan are both educating our opponents using Jesus' Third Way.
When faced with opposition, our society only gives us two choices: fight or flight. Jesus, however, urges us to find a third way - a way that opposes the violence and hatred in our world, but refuses to let the violence and hatred dictate our response. As Walter Wink writes in The Powers that Be, Jesus' third way is "at once assertive and yet nonviolent."
Wink's book is full of examples, but my favorite is story of the residents of a squatter's camp in South Africa before the fall of Apartheid. One day, the police came with bulldozers to tear down the camp. They gave the women there five minutes to get their stuff and leave. Instead of packing up, the women stripped off their clothes and stood naked before the bulldozers. The police turned and fled - embarrassed by the women's nakedness.
Wink writes: "The Powers that Be literally stand on their dignity. Nothing deflates them more effectively than deft lampooning. By refusing to be awed by their power, the powerless are emboldened to seize the initiative, even where structural change is not immediately possible. This message, far from counseling an unattainable otherworldly perfection, is a practical, strategic measure for empowering the oppressed."
This is why the Ku Klux Klowns were so effective that day in Knoxville. The Klan left their rally hoarse and dejected because they were deftly lampooned. For that moment, the powerless were emboldened against these racists. The racist structure of our society has not changed, but the oppressed now understand they have a practical, strategic measure they can use to seize the initiative. We need not cower when racists or homophobes start their rants against us.
We have the power of parody, the power of deft lampooning to put them in their place. We can strip naked before them and watch them run.
In a like manner, Vanessa Sheridan has found the third way - focusing on educating those in the workplace about the issue of transgender people. Through her revolutionary educational practices, she is helping those who may have verbally or physically abused transgender people in the workplace come to a place of understanding - if not acceptance - of their co-worker's transition.
Both the clowns and Sheridan are employing practical nonviolence as a way to educate and overcome the hatred and violence in our world.
Wink says nonviolence "is not victory over the enemy but the transformation that only love can effect. And that transformation may change us every bit as much as those whom we oppose." In short, he says, nonviolence "invites miracles."
May we find ways to invite such miracles into our lives today.