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  • Writer's picturesonnyholmes

Reactionary knee jerks.

Our founders were committed and inspired to establish a government that sought the common good. Amendment 1 of the Constitution of the United States guaranteed several important rights of American citizens---

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the

free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right

of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of


Most of us are aware of the freedoms established in this amendment, especially the freedoms of religion, speech or expression, or of the press. Less known is the "right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances". Citizens of these United States may assemble and solicit the government for correction of laws that abridge the common good. Numerous times in United States history the people have protested perceived injustices that had been enabled by law. Famous protests include the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in August, 1963; the Anti-Vietnam Protest in November 1969; Solidarity Day in Washington DC, in September, 1981; the Anti-Nuclear March in New York City, June, 1982; the Million Man March, Washington, October, 1995; among many others. There have been labor strikes, educational breaks, price freezing exercises, public marches, rallies, sit-ins, walk outs, processions, days, pilgrimages, motorcades, tractorcades, cavalcades, and barricades.

From our earliest days down through history we've known the value and blessing of our right to peaceably assemble.

On occasion these rights to peaceably assemble have escalated to riots of violent destruction. It's not that rare in American history that a valid gathering of citizens could suddenly erupt into a dangerous mob scene. You know, like the Boston Tea Party. It has certainly happened before the recent riots following the George Floyd killing by police. The other day I found a very interesting article at www.cnbc about the most destructive riots in our history. If you'd like to read it click here. Of course, the most recent ones touch our lives now. We see them and are fearful for our nation. They are perhaps easier for us to understand when we're talking about the common good, factions, and minority/majority politics. You see, the peaceable assembly of citizens, even when the numbers are large, doesn't always gain the result the faction is seeking. Their passion for the issue under consideration often ignites more flammable emotions. We have seen the results. Peaceable assembly doesn't always produce the desired outcomes.

It's a perplexity of exponential times. Contemporary citizens generally approve of the faction goals to reduce racial discrimination in America. They will not, however, blindly nod assent for events or activities that are illegal, destructive, or against the public welfare or common good. Broadly, the majority of Americans do not favor trying to sanitize our past by removing historical markers, defacing monuments or statues, or re-naming buildings. The Majority of our population do not approve of the illegal and dangerous actions by those seeking to erase our history. The Christian worldview through which I interpret most things asserts this biblical truth---

Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for

every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show

perfect courtesy toward all people.

Titus 3: 1-2, ESV

Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as

servants of God.

1 Peter 2:16, ESV

You, therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried

away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability.

2 Peter 3: 17, ESV

Beloved, do not imitate evil but imitate good.

3 John 1: 11, ESV

That's the real down-side of reactionary reform, that is , constantly seeking to meet the needs of those factions who begin by peaceably assembling. If their agenda is not met, their actions often dial up to a higher and more dangerous level. We can surely agree with groups like Black Lives Matter in their desire for racial equality in our nation. Just the same, we must not give approval to their destructive ways.

Reform is necessary at times. It should always be the will of the people rather than the reactionary knee-jerks that usually trigger something worse.

Copyright: <a href=''>urfingus / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

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