Written by Jeff Benson
“Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” Matthew 10:39
I am writing this on the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr.
Earlier today I was scrolling through my Facebook feed idly looking for the latest video and seeing how my friends were doing, when I came across a most interesting trend occurring within my social circle. The majority of posts I was seeing were somehow tied to a quote spoken by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. It was then that I realized that I was in complete ignorance of the significance of the day, since I still had to go to work and my daily business proceeded as normal. The only thing that was different was the few extra images of quotes spoken by a man who died for his cause.
As a cultural observer I find this to be incredibly reflective of a modern trend involving grasping for action, and pausing for deep reflection. There is a particular phrase that has been passed around social circles for a number of years that I am not fond of, but the term is ‘slacktivism’. This term refers to the desire to aid in one’s cause or fight for some idea, but the extent to which someone will sacrifice is only beyond what they touch with their social media clout. I find this same concept to be true about our (and I do include myself in this category) responses to crisis when it arises. In the particular case about easing racial tensions in our nation, we craft excellent and poetic images which we share with our selected group of individuals, many of whom are already in agreement with our particular worldview. It is at this point that many (though not all) individuals will stop and carry on, having done their part in “fighting the good fight”.
I question though if that is sufficient to back a particular cause. Should there not be a greater level of sacrifice at hand when we back a topic such as equal justice across racial lines, or furthering to eradicate racially biased language from our culture? It would appear that there requires more, but in many a situation, there is little that the modern millennial (there, I said it) can do. Instead, there is a pause for a deep reflection that focuses inward on the self. While this is all well and good in its own right, without sounding too hateful myself this is an incredibly selfish act. Advancing a cause does begin with the self, this is true, but it then must make the swift transition out of the individual and into the ears and eyes of another individual. It must then move with the hands of all involved to make the change desired a reality, be it through government or writing, art or song, or service. If there is to be change then it must be preceded by action.
It is at this point in my writing that I must claim ignorance since I do not know what action is to be taken, or what our next step should be in furthering the causes left by martyrs such as Dr. King. I am no anthropologist, but perhaps social media is one of the biggest ways that millennials can make cultural change. And though I am not the CEO of a nonprofit, maybe the solution is not simply donating money to a cause either. Yet it is necessary that something be done in order to focus the next generation of students on the lives of the underserved, and instill within them the value of thinking of others. When we think of the ministry of Jesus, even a secular person would agree that Jesus died for what He believed in. Yet as Christians we know that Jesus came to earth to redeem mankind, and loved the world so sacrificially that He gave his own life for it. This should drive us to go further than those before us, and learn to dream bigger and do greater in order to further advance the cause of Jesus and what He wills for our generation.