I saw a photo today of a little peace protest of Christians, who looked like the saddest, scraggliest little group of tepid people you have ever seen. I don’t mean the people were scraggly. I mean the gathering was scraggly.
The optics of protests are so important. God, they are so very important.
I’ll write more about this, but let me just say as a conversation starter that leaders must decide what the point of the gathering is, and if it is meant to be a media event, make sure you’re communicating something that visually works FOR your message, not against it.
We must be wise as serpents and gentle as doves, people! COME ON! Get with the program! There was a reason Jesus went to the trouble of arranging for a colt AND a donkey for his ride into Jerusalem.
Optics! Because while it was absurd to ride two animals to the Holy City, both of those animals had immediate historical meaning for the crowd (I’m not exegeting historicity here, but savvy symbolism). Bam! Brilliant visual messaging.
If you want to witness for peace because it gathers together the faithful in a way that builds community and strengthens resolve, great. Do it privately if you have an insignificant number of people. Don’t call it a protest.
If you want to protest, you need to have a strong presence — if not numerically, then in message and symbols. Carry posters. Wear a slogan Tshirt. Don’t just stand around in a loose clump of mild-looking folk who look like they’re waiting for the potato salad to be brought out to the picnic tables. I took one look at that group and I thought, “Oh, wow, now, I’d just as soon go to the Trump rally just to feel some life force and conviction coming from a crowd. I’d hate everything about it, but at least I could relate to their passion for change.”
I expect to get some heat for this criticism, but go ahead.
You know what I’m going to say: organize to make a visual impact. Work through your fear of power issues and CLAIM SOME. Direct the cameras where you want them to be – don’t let the photo editor tell the story of your insignificance by using a long shot that emphasizes the tininess of the group. Have a strong message. Stage and say something dynamic. This is no time for vague cliches about peace.
The wrong image is worse than no image.