Activism and the Exhaustion of “Why Bother?”

be the change

Emett Till. Vincent Chin. Trayvon Martin. Renisha McBride. Jordan Davis.

These names keep going through my mind after the Dunn Trial verdict. Or should I say lack thereof…All I can think about is babies. They’re babies, for God’s sake. So something more deeply sinister and poisonous is operating in the world. Why would anyone even consider the possibility that this man should not be found guilty for 1st degree murder??? I’m wracking my brain – eff the Stand Your Ground law – for how the law is supposed to be for the people but it only works for some of the people. The rest…well, the best thing to do is probably to stop playing our music loud, stop wearing hoodies and going to convenience stores for candy, stop going to bars and fast food restaurants, stop making any eye contact with those in privilege and power.

Or maybe we should stand our ground.


I’m not sure what I would have done without Twitter and blogs and internet communities these last three years. Drowning in this harsh and beautiful endeavor called parenthood I often felt like my only lifeline to any semblance of life-outside and my former-life was the World Wide Web. The Young Clergy Women Project. 8asians. Deeper Story. Next GenerAsian Church. And so much more. Without these communities – and despite my inconsistent level of participation and commitment – I think I really would have lost myself. Lost passion, lost purpose, lost calling.

At the same time, these precious gifts we call “the twins” and “baby #3” have fueled a distinct kind of passion and urgency in that I feel like there’s a much more compelling reason for anything I do today. Blogging? For them. Connecting with others on Twitter? For them. Joining with others in dialogue about church and ministry? For them. College ministry, work on the boards, side projects, writing books? All. For. Them.

I know it sounds weird. Like a sad and weak justification for the things that I do that especially take me away from the children. Oh, that mom-guilt is really piercing, and just so particularly agonizing to every cell in my body. Never knew that kind of pain and heartache could exist even when there is really nothing wrong in our lives. But still, I hold onto a kind of pseudo-eschatological view of everything – like it’s on us to bring God’s kingdom of peace and justice to this world. And so that means speaking up about the horrible violence and oppression, working in whatever way possible to bring about meaningful community, and doing what I can to help shape a future that is hospitable and live-able for them.

I’d been laying a little low lately. Consumed by terrible sleep schedules even when all the children sleep all night (truly, a rarity). All manner of random thoughts laying waste to what’s left of my brain cells in the middle of the night. Trying to run the kids hard during the day so they will crash at a decent hour. I was treading water in some ways. But then #trayvonmartin and #renishamcbride and #newtown nd #jordandavis aand I keep thinking I need do something. Then #notyourasiansidekick kicked it in high gear for me again. The Twitter campaign and movement to reinvigorate the voices of Asian America started by Suey Park gave language to some of the angst and frustration I’ve been feeling towards these recent tragedies with children and guns in the US.

What can we do? I love what she says here:

In the coming months, I’m really hoping to start shifting our collective consciousness. That means disseminating information that I have been able to get a hold of, sharing the work of ethnic studies scholars above before me, like Asian-American feminists that have been doing this work for quite a while, and finding a way for our generation to build off the generation before us. We can use our unique skills, like our social media power, to enact real tangible change.

That feels productive. Powerful. Even if I feel closed in by the walls I can do something – thanks to social media. I can be a part of a movement. I can lend my voice.

I’m tired. But, aren’t we all??? So why bother? It’s for them. So we can’t stop. We can’t stay here. We won’t stand our ground. We’re going to press on…to that heavenly prize in which God in Jesus Christ is calling us. What about the kingdom of God as a movement? Not just social justice. Not just church. Not just theology or doctrine. But, a movement towards and a movement to bring about a different reality, one where everyone has the right to live and breathe and sing and dance and play their damn music as loud as they want anywhere they want in this world.

Because it’s for them.