FOR MANY PEOPLE the word “anarchism” conjures up images of wanton destructiveness and lawless, violent chaos. But, as associate editor Betsy Shirley explains in this issue, Christian anarchists aren’t about mayhem or violence. Rather, Shirley says, they look at the long-standing and deep-rooted injustices and oppressions in our society and don’t feel that small-scale reforms will be enough: Systematic problems require systematic solutions.
Some, of course, dismiss such analysis as unpopular and unrealistic. Former President Barack Obama cautioned this fall that we must be “rooted in reality.” Obama said, “The average American doesn’t think we have to completely tear down the system and remake it.”
That’s an important conversation—between those who advocate and work for concrete, achievable improvements in the social systems that affect people’s lives and those who focus on broader, structural change (and those who do both). The more we’re able to see that as a creative tension and not an insurmountable barrier, the more likely it is that we’ll be able to achieve steps toward real social change.