The limitations and redemption of wokeness
This mental habit is closely related to what we now call “wokeness.” In an older frame of mind, you try to perceive the size of a problem objectively, and then you propose a solution, which might either be radical or moderate, conservative or liberal. You were judged primarily by the nature of your proposal.
But wokeness jams together the perceiving and the proposing. In fact, wokeness puts more emphasis on how you perceive a situation — how woke you are to what is wrong — than what exactly you plan to do about it. To be woke is to understand the full injustice.
There is no measure or moderation to wokeness. It’s always good to be more woke. It’s always good to see injustice in maximalist terms. To point to any mitigating factors in the environment is to be naïve, childish, a co-opted part of the status quo.
If “being woke” is little more than another term for outrage or indignation, then I think that Brooks is right about woke movement’s inability to produce progress. Also, I especially like how Brooks shows that wokeness isn’t limited to the political left; any group can have its own trigger words and safe spaces.
However, Eric Mason suggests an alternative: “redeeming” wokeness from a mere “urban colloquialism” to something deeply connected to God’s mission in the world:
Woke is an urban colloquialism used by black nationalists and those who are in the Black Consciousness movement, of “being woke,” in the sense of the systemic sociological, economic, and comprehensive disenfranchisement of African Americans.
But I love the Bible when it says, “Redeem the time for the day is evil.” I believe that there are so many things in our world that are redeemable, and one of those items… is this word “woke.” The greatest woke passage in the Bible is Ephesians chapter 5, when Paul says, “Awake sleeper and rise from the dead and Christ will shine upon you…”
I believe that the “wokest” — if that’s a word — people on the planet should be believers, cross-ethnically around the globe. And this wokeness is not merely centered on sociology, on economics, on geography, on psychosis, and all of those different things — which are all important for the gospel to influence. But I believe that wokeness [has to do with God’s] goal based on Romans 8:29… “to conform us to the image of Jesus Christ.” And in this disposition of conformity, wokeness should not only awaken to the issues in our context as it relates to race and injustice, but to anything that is exalting itself against the knowledge of Christ that needs to be torn down and decimated.