Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A Disciple Might Step In Front of a Truck

My mother always told me to look both ways before crossing the street. Hopefully somebody taught you the same. Because of that it was counter-intuitive to step out into the Ambassador Bridge's main truck depot on Thursday, October 27th with 150 fellow activists . We stepped in front of trucks (betting they would stop!) to put ourselves between them and the city streets of our neighborhood. The drivers, who are not to blame for the problem, were kind enough not to run us over.

Why put ourselves in front of trucks? And more importantly, why do so as a Christian? When the economic system of the community was oppressing the people and offending God, Jesus overturned the tables in the temple (Matthew 21). In other words, he interrupted, even temporarily obstructed the entire economic system of the temple.

The truck access to the city streets of Detroit is not only illegal, but immoral. Despite years of legal rulings, the company has refused to comply, sending trucks on local streets instead of to the freeways, where they belong. As a result, we have pollution, crowding and wholly unsafe conditions in our community. The bridge company does not take actions that reflect a care for the people who live and work in the area.

The activists on October 27th interrupted international trade for forty minutes on a busy workday afternoon. In an act of civil disobedience, the first thought was not about what was legal, but what was just. The legal system and the company were betraying the community. Therefore it was imperative that we demonstrate our own power.

We align ourselves with a long history of those acting in civil disobedience because of their faith, values and care for their people. The civil rights movement in the American South may be the most obvious example, but we can also think of the man standing in front of the tank in Tiananmen Square, and the recent round-the-clock protests in Cairo.

Faith leads us, and it leads us more than the safety of our finances, or the need for a clean arrest record. Civil disobedience is risky, but so is following Jesus.