“Don’t protest against what you disapprove. Do without it.” Italian philosopher and mystic Lanza del Vasto.
This advice is offered in a NY Times article by Christy Wampole called “In Praise of Disregard“. Let’s think it through for a moment …
Rosa Parks disregarded the code that said people of color sat in the back of the bus. When asked to move so a white man could sit down, she disregarded the request. Was it a “protest”? Was it passive aggression? Or was it an act of “holy disregard”?
“Do not judge,” says Jesus (Matthew 7:1). Perhaps another way of thinking about that text is to consider it from the perspective of redemptive disregard. One thing social media has done for us and to us is to intensify the constant bombardment of polarizing news. We are daily subjected to controversy. And we are invited – encouraged even – to put our two cents in on any and every issue. Wampole writes:
“Often, my whole afternoon is wrecked by reading one article or watching one debate. And that lost afternoon is irretrievable. Those hours I could have spent pursuing my research, or engaging creatively in something, or writing an article like this one, which demonstrates some faith in humanity, are lost because of a morbid attraction to provocative rhetoric and lost causes.”
One story about Jesus tells us he was confronted with a woman accused of adultery. Jesus bent to the ground and drew in the sand, seeming to be disinterested in the entire matter. When the woman’s accusers persisted, Jesus finally stood up, telling the sinless one among them to cast the first stone. Then he stooped down again and returned to his sand drawing. The crowd dispersed, leaving the woman standing alone with Jesus.
“Disregard” seems to have enabled Jesus to home in on the essentials without getting caught up in the controversy. No condemnation – and the simple invitation to the woman – “Leave your life of sin.” Yes. An invitation to a life of holy disregard.
Have a blessed Tuesday.