Thursday, October 20, 2011


I was standing in line for the bathroom at a Burger King in New York City.

Why?  Because we were about to spend a day in the city and my children needed to use the bathroom.  So naturally we looked for the cleanest and most convenient place to use a toilet and settled on the Burger King across from the protests in New York City.

Now I am a fan of protests - there is something dramatic about a group of people standing up and saying, "we've had it!"  It could be any issue and I would find it enthralling - intriguing - just what makes a person risk something to speak out against the norm?  I find it courageous and exciting.  Even those that I disagree with, I have to applaud them for their passion.

So the protests that were going on were secondary to my search for a bathroom as I stood in a line about 20 people long for the men's bathroom with one son who just couldn't hold it any longer.  He was about to protest he had to go so bad.  As we stood there (for a very_long_time - it actually wound up about 45 minutes) I noticed two very weird things, almost Orwellian.

It looks like the good people at BK realized that one bathroom for 3 floors of food service creates long lines.  So they put a TV in between the men's and women's room.  The TV was tuned into some kind of MTV.  So basically my kids had images of barely clothed women moving to a beat that we couldn't hear while some guy in tattoos sings about the joys of thug life.

I was tempted to change the channel.  So I checked out everyone else's reaction.  I thought if everyone else thinks this is ridiculous then we can change it.  But I was astonished.  Like a giant video pacifier, about half of the people were glued to the screen.  In fact one of the protesters sat at a table and stared at the screen.  Staring is too soft a word.  You would have thought there were a pool of saliva at his feet - he was completely glazed over watching the screen.

Maybe he was tired.  Protesting is draining.

But then as I saw others, I was weirded out thinking that everyone is okay with this.  It is times like these that I feel like an alien on my own planet.

Standing in line I wanted to change the conditions - I wanted to protest against the garbage coming through the screen.  But each time I think about that, I have to remember I am an alien on my own planet.

If the Christian message is true, then it must be conducted through my demonstration of it, not my demonstrations about it.  I effect change by the way I move through this planet - that is a movement - a collection of people acting like Jesus (who left no instructions for political movements, field guides or talking points).  The conditions change when I engage other people in line and make conversation and show grace.

But I am still figuring it all out . . .

1 comment:

  1. Actually, as a parent, it is your right to protect your child. I have been outspoken about the profanity we have seen downtown Harrisburg at one of the rallies not long ago. There are laws in place that protect our children, and if you notice, even prime time tv has ratings for age appropriateness, even movies have ratings, so that we parents can be aware. As a mom, I would have said, loudly, "Oh, dear, this is not appropriate for young children. I'm sorry, Little Fellow, let my find something more suitable." I would have also said something to the people behind the counter. It is our right. Freedom of expression does not mean to be indecent with language or behaviour in the presence of young children. There are laws in place, decency laws to protect them.
    So, next time that happens, you just tell them you have the right to protect your child from indecent programming, and do so with confidence. You will find that once people come to their senses in that circumstance, they will agree.