Silence and a can of red paint spurred more heated responses from students and onlookers than many recent hard-hitting forums.
Some posters riled and offended onlookers, but in a silent protest, the message must be strong enough to make a clear point.
The mute protestors, with blood-red hands, said they wanted two things: peace and dialogue.
They received their second wish.
Before the protest, Paul Goncalves, senior Biblical text major from Itu, Brazil, said he hoped the protest would ignite a discussion about Christians’ response to violence.
The university community does not shy away from heavy topics – Lectureship bombarded attendees with intense human rights issues and recent forums faced racial issues head on.
But the community’s silence on the more political issue of war strands the university in passive indecision.
The Sept. 21 Peace Protest, which coincided with the International Day of Peace, unearthed an undercurrent of passionate opinions.
The dedicated militants and staunch pacifists who shared views in passing and on the Internet confirm the protest did its job.
Behind-the-scenes discussions are underway, launching students, faculty and staff into an examination of what Christian life means in a time of war.
On his blog, Lame-O Weblog, Mark Elrod commented on the protest, and about 20 bloggers responded a mere four days later. Clearly, the protestors hit a sore spot because bloggers’ responses ranged from admiration to disgust.
“Kudos to ACU,” wrote blogger ithomas. “Whether or not their signs and methods were politically kosher, they presented their views to their classmates: classmates who are most likely to disagree 100 percent. That’s bold and necessary.”
Others scorned the strong messages.
Blogger Randy wrote, “The ‘Jesus is a dead Iraqi Child’ poster was over the top and offensive.”
Also, in about 90 wall posts on Goncalvez’s Facebook.com group, ‘Peace is the Way,’ students planned the protest, shared their views and demonstrated a great deal of passion on the issue.
Although bold, the protest made a point within reasonable bounds, and students could follow the example and take a visual, active stand, rather than spouting opinions online to those who already agree.
If the university intends to “educate students for Christian service and leadership throughout the world,” students must engage in such gray issues where no easy answer exists.
Look forward to hearing more real discussion, doing more reflection and seeing more signs.