I recently remarked that a little subversiveness has always been good for the country. Of course, this was meant as a joke, so it’s somewhat foolish for me to try to defend the claim. Whether the claim is true depends on how “subversive” is defined. I’m sure that there are many different lexical definitions of “subversive,” but, if I remember correctly the word comes from the Latin subvertere, meaning literally “to turn from below.” In that sense, democracy is pure subversiveness.
All revolutionary social changes have had a subversive component. The Protestant Reformation, labor movements, the Civil Rights movement, and the fight against slavery are just a few. All of these were radical movements that, in the end, were good (I’ll have to beg forgiveness from my Roman Catholic colleagues in the chaplaincy about the first one…) So, this is not subversiveness as in attempting to overthrow, but rather to change. Those in power are not always right. (Ironically, I’m listening to The Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again” right now.)
Of course, the ultimate example of subversion is the Gospel: An almighty God who chooses to change the world not by compulsion, but by sacrifice. What could be more subversive than praying for one’s enemies?
Pray for peace…