How to Reach Your People
Everyone has “their people”. Sports fans share a camaraderie with those who like the same teams (we saw quite a bit of this last week in American baseball). People share a bond with other people who like the same music, books, and movies. We’re drawn to the people who share our culture.
I grew up in suburban America. I played video games, collected comic books, listened to The Cure, and rode a skateboard. I love skateboarding. When I hear wheels rolling by on the pavement, something in my heart jumps. When I see a knee-high waxed concrete ledge, I imagine all the skateboard tricks that could be done on it. I have a collection of skate magazines that take up significant space in my home. And I still consider the skate video to be one of the highest forms of art. So because of my love for skateboarding, skaters are my people. I empathize with them.
The Eagles of Death Metal
You may have heard the name of a band called The Eagles of Death Metal. They were the band playing onstage during the Bataclan Massacre in Paris a year ago this week.
And where was the first time I heard about The Eagles of Death Metal? In one of my skate magazines, in an issue from the late 90s. Their music was described as being “perfect for white-lining it on a desert highway at 4:00 AM.” How could I not be interested in that?
Skaters are my people. And fans of The Eagles of Death Metal are my people too. I empathize with them. But even if you can empathize with someone, that doesn’t mean that they are going to share all your values.
Grief for My People
Of all the acts of terrorism that I’ve heard about in my life, including 9/11, attacks that happened up the street from where I live, and a bombing that happened about a block away from me, the Bataclan Massacre grieved me the most.
When I heard about this act of terrorism, I grieved for days. I kept picturing in my head that crazed terrorist executing one person after another on the stage. He was killing my people.
My People, Not My Values
Do I listen to the Eagles of Death Metal? I vaguely recall listening to them once about 16 years ago. Although I could appreciate elements of their aesthetic, I could not embrace their art. Why? Because of my values.
Their art incorporated cynical references to the devil, and I don’t like to joke about the devil. My values would have me embrace art that only references the devil if necessary, and does so in a way that neither glorifies him nor mocks the severity of what the devil represents.
The music of The Eagles of Death Metal does not agree with my values. And if you listen to them, we do not share some of the same values. But you’re still my people. I empathize with you.
A Sobering Thought
Last weekend, I went skateboarding in downtown Jerusalem. The place was alive with skaters bouncing off the streets. This was home for me. I was with my people. And if we were hanging out in Paris last year around the same time, some of us would probably be going to see a show at the Bataclan Theater afterward.
But as much as I enjoyed seeing the local shop team tear up the entrance to the city post office, as much as I enjoyed weaving lines of tricks around skaters my kids’ age, I began to feel a tinge of sadness. These guys (and girls) share my culture, but they don’t share my values. You could see it in the little things, someone smoking something over here, someone with a satanic symbol plastered across the front of his shirt over there, etc. And if we were hanging out in Paris last year around the same time, I wouldn’t be going to the Bataclan Theater afterward. Because of my values.
The thought that such a decision could result in my life being spared is a sobering one.
How to Reach Your People
…Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country. – John F. Kennedy
What happens when your people don’t share your values? Do you preach to them? Do you criticize or condemn them? Do you tell them how much you’re right and they’re wrong?
No. You love them.
And what does that look like? Loving is giving. Here are a few ways to do that:
- Ask yourself how you can give to your people. Don’t expect to receive anything from them.
- Don’t act entitled around them in any way. No one will care about you if you don’t care about them first.
- Treat your people with respect – even if they don’t respect you.
- Pray for your people. Spend time and effort articulating your desires and hopes for them to God. He’s the only Higher Power that can help.
Do you grieve for your people? How can you serve them, what can you do for them today? Let me know in the comments below!
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