Being The Wrong-Way Guy
During the Christmas break, I bought another book to add to my growing collection: The Idea of Canada: Letters to a Nation. The book is a collection of letters that David Johnston wrote to Canadians – some notable, some unknown – during his tenure as Governor General of Canada.
One of Johnston’s letters is devoted to praising the “wrong-way guy.” In the context of the letter, the former Governor General is speaking of policemen, first responders, and soldiers that run towards danger as everyone else runs away. In the eyes of the fleeing, such brave men are going the wrong way. Rational men run away from danger, not towards it. Why are you running towards that mass shooter?
Johnston thinks that such bravery stems “from a deep-seated, sacrificial love that drives away fear, a pure form of love that enables someone to look beyond his or her limitations, to remain on his or her guard, to stand firm, determined, and composed even in the midst of a crisis.” He even quotes St. Augustine: “’What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has the eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men.’”
As our former head of state, Johnston can’t help but opine what that bravery says about our country. He ends his letter with the conclusion that bravery “says we have a desire to make this country even better, and that – paradoxically yet gloriously – going the wrong way moves us closer to becoming the more caring nation we all want Canada to be.”
Now, I’m not sure what David Johnston’s religious convictions are, whether he wrote these words from a heart of right faith in God or misplaced faith in humanity. But his words rang true to me, not primarily in the sense that Canada needs more first responders or front-line workers to run towards the danger zones (though we need more of those heroes too), but in the sense that Canada needs more Christians who are willing to be “wrong-way guys.”
In an era and in a country that is seemingly flowing in one direction, we need to be “wrong-way guys.” We see our wider culture flowing in one direction, a direction away from God and His will. The cultural tide in favour of personal autonomy, abortion, euthanasia, gay marriage, gender transitioning, and authoritarianism is sweeping our country towards the brink of a waterfall. Too many Christians are willing to go with the flow of culture or remain in a seemingly safe little eddy along the riverbank, dangerously close to being swept into the current.
Instead, we need the courage to turn back against the current, to plant our feet on solid ground, and to begin making our way upriver.
In the public square, this means we don’t only want to save ourselves. We want to serve and save others. Furthermore, we want to glorify God. That means sounding the alarm and pointing to the right way. That means writing to our elected leaders to implore them to rectify injustices. It means writing a letter to the editor for your local paper to reveal the light of truth to the society around us. It means joining a political party and voting for policies and leadership contenders that are willing to acknowledge their submission to God’s law. It means running for office or supporting someone else with those aspirations; maybe not national or provincial office, but maybe local office.
It means going “the wrong way.”
David Johnston. (2016). The Idea of Canada: Letters to a Nation. Penguin Random House Canada; Toronto. 23-27.