What I learned about the prophets from reading the Old Testament:
- They usually only came around when bad things were being done by the people.
- They were not always well-received by the bad people.
- The people in the land were generally wicked. The bad people far-outweighed the good and were in positions of leadership.
- They had a message telling the people to change their ways.
- What they said was highly offensive (to the bad people) and the backlash often ended in their execution.
Those times may have been a couple of thousand years behind us, but is the world we live in really that different? There is a controlling force that wants us to live in a certain way. It wants us to have freedom of speech only if it is in line with their views. We are safe only if we stay in the herd, abide by the rules of the shepherds, and don’t make too much noise.
There is only one way to avoid criticism: do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing.Aristotle
Imagine trying to live your life free of criticism. You are safe if you don’t step out of the boundaries. But as soon as you do, as soon as you break free from the herd, you run the risk of criticism. How much courage does it take to go out on your own, to say and do and be what you believe in your heart to be right? Without such bravery by others, we would still be living on a flat earth.
There are dangers in being an outlier. You could get canceled and de-platformed for having a voice that is different. Go far enough, you could be arrested, tortured, and even quietly removed from existence. It sounds extreme, but there are nations that have zero tolerance for those that do not quietly acquiesce to their rule. Don’t believe me? Go ask a Cambodian immigrant that fled their homeland in the 1960’s about the Khmer Rouge or a former Soviet escaping to America during the Cold War. It is not easy being different in a world that does not tolerate it. But as hard as it is…
The world still needs its prophets. Okay, maybe not prophets. That takes a calling destined only for a few. But there needs to be people willing to step up and cry foul when the world, or at least their part of the world, begins to stray. Without them, who knows, we may still believe the universe revolves around the earth.
Do, say, believe. You might get criticized. You might find that you were wrong and grow from the experience. You might create change, or you might be ostracized. Nelson Mandela said, “Your playing small does not serve the world. Who are you not to be great?” He knew what it was to be an outlier and take a stand. We can learn from people like him and strive to make the world a little better for the next generation
Feature painting: Jonah by Michelangelo from the Sistine Chapel. Jonah wasn’t exactly excited about being a prophet. After a little prompting from God and a large fish, Jonah eventually followed his calling.