Though I have strong opinions regarding most political matters, Wise Blood was never intended as a political blog. Today, however, I’m treading — albeit lightly — into political terrain.
Current events trouble me. I find this video chilling. See what you think.
Individuals who hold elected positions — we used to call them “dignitaries” — were once deemed to deserve and be accorded with due respect … no matter their political point of view.
So it disturbs me Congressman John Lewis — an invited guest — was turned away from the event. He made the effort to come. (Whether or not his appearance was calculated for political points is irrelevant, at least to me.)
Should Cong. Lewis (because of his position) be more highly esteemed than the others assembled at Woodruff Park? Not at all, and the video shows Lewis comported himself with dignity and humility. When turned away, he didn’t express consternation or create a scene. He quietly left the venue. Though he was poorly treated, I commend his restraint.
What most troubled me was Occupy Atlanta‘s condescending approach to deliberative assemblies. Forget the mutual respect embodied within Robert’s Rules of Order. Forget as well the usual purposes for assemblies: to inform, to foster communication, to coalesce around shared ideas and to agree upon a future course of action.
The OA website offers its notion of “participatory democracy” as a means to build “consensus” but adds: “… in a large crowd where everyone is supposed to get a chance to be heard, deviating from it quickly causes chaos.”
Seriously? Rather than ceding a modest ten minutes for the congressman to speak, this “participatory democracy” devoted ten minutes to ruminations over whether or not Lewis (their invited guest) should be allowed to speak!!
It would be generous to characterize the exchange as debate; this was a demeaning exercise. The OA moderator addressed his listeners as if they were minimally functional nursery school children, utilizing truncated speech that was mindlessly parroted back by the crowd. Applause was discouraged in preference to “effusive hand gestures.”
The moderator reminds the assembly: This isn’t a vote. But, express your feelings in favor of Cong. Lewis speaking. The crowd responded compliantly with effusive hand gestures. Express your feelings against Cong. Lewis speaking. Again, the crowd responded with effusive hand gestures.
Alas … there was no “consensus.” Lewis was rebuffed, meaning the second group’s effusive hand gestures had effectively outvoted the first group’s effusive hand gestures. (Oh, sorry, this wasn’t a vote, right? Yet I feel it was something akin to a vote.)
OA’s conceit of “participatory democracy” reminds me of another event. Recall (from John 18:38-39, NASB) when Pilate (having interviewed Jesus) announced to the crowd: “I find no guilt in him.” Pilate subsequently sought the mob’s counsel on what should be done with Jesus.
Typical of a mob drinking lavishly from the intoxicating well of “participatory democracy,” they responded to Pilate: “Crucify him! Crucify him!” (John 19:6)
Don’t be surprised if Madame Guillotine is waiting in the wings.