How is our current turmoil different from what the country dealt with in 1968? That year there were high-profile deaths, rioting in the streets, political upheaval, etc. Chicago police were under scrutiny for abuse of protesters at the Democratic National Convention. There were a lot of events taking place similar to what is happening in 2020.
I may be missing something, but it seems to me that here’s the big difference: in 1968, protesters wanted to see changes take place in systems of government – elect new leadership, pass new laws, get us out of Viet Nam, fulfill the promise articulated by Martin Luther King Jr. and Bobby Kennedy, etc. But today I am hearing protesters say that changes in the system are not sufficient; systems need to be dismantled and replaced – they are inherently oppressive.
My innate skepticism leads me to worry that systemic replacement will not guarantee improvement, but rather create opportunity for havoc to reign. Substantive systemic change is arduous, requires broad support, and if it is to be effective must have common agreement to the goals of the change. In other words, change for change’s sake is dangerous.
Ask anyone who has presided over small scale system changes such as new accounting systems, new information technology, etc. Careful planning, system-wide participation in the process, and strong leadership commitment are necessary to reduce the disruption of system change and overcome resistance.
My worries about outcomes for our society lead me to pray fervently for wisdom among those who are making decisions for our country, state, and city. These are perilous times and I appeal daily to God for His providence.
I also continue to pray for those in the leadership of Salvation Army Corps. Unanticipated change has already taken place and will require exceptional wisdom in adapting to new realities created by COVID-19. Worship, service delivery, fundraising, and programming have all been affected. This is not change for its own sake; it is change that has been thrust upon us.
May God grant wisdom, patience, and persistence to all who must adapt to this incredible change.