How to Stop Protesters

Don’t allow your mouth to lead you into sin. Don’t protest before the messenger that this was a mistake. Why should God be angry at your voice, and destroy the work of your hands? (Ecclesiastes 5:6 WEB)

One Friday I used a compensation day and stayed home from the office. Beth was off, bright and early, to help with the school lunch and Moms In Touch, and would be gone all day. For several days we discussed going to the opera and I finally agreed.

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In the early afternoon I headed off to Vienna. Taking the bus, enjoying the train and then a Subway provided time to read my latest book. I arrived downtown with some spare time and decided to walk over to Starbucks and enjoy a nice Mocha. As I approached the street corner I heard shouting from a megaphone. The chant was something like, “Boycott the American business. No to war,” or a similar anti USA sentiment. Coming around the corner I observed a group in front of Starbucks with a big banner encouraging people to stop patronizing the American business in protest against the war in Iraq.

Ignoring the protesters, their leaflets, and skirting the outer boundary of their banner I entered this bastion of American independence and capitalism. Where else will they charge you unimaginable sums to select from a long list of options to enjoy a drink emblazoned with advertising? There is another shop in town called Coffee to Go which is a Starbucks’ clone. Their coffee is just as good and about half the price. But, they were on the other side of town and Starbucks was right beside the Opera house.

After ordering my Mocha Grande to go, I decided to stay inside, out of the freezing breeze, and read more of my book. I passed the full seats on the ground floor and sauntered up the stairs to the first floor seating area. Even upstairs I had difficulty locating an empty seat to enjoy by 5 Euro cup of Mocha. The murmur of contented, high rolling coffee drinkers, was occasionally disturbed when the megaphone enhanced voices mumbled their way through the double glass windows. A couple folks would glance through the window, to observer the protesters, take another sip, of their American capitalistic fluid delight, and go back to their book, newspaper, or conversation. This was clearly a demonstration of the power of coffee over protesters.

Just think of it. A big protest, loud shouting, papers distributed, banners waved, and still the power of coffee won the day. Even the Gendarmerie, whose presence was to insure a riot did not break out, were so bored they were phoning their spouses, or significant others, just to have something to do. Standing guard, outside in the cold breeze, several tried to hide the Starbucks cups in their hands. It appeared the protesters were increasing the business just by the curiosity they created. Think of all that coffee.

Did you know there is a big difference between European and American coffee. I don’t mean the difference between dish water drink versus spoon melting strength but the basic flavor and origin. The majority of American coffee comes from South America in contrast to the European coffee source based in Turkey I’ve been told. This goes a long way to explain the ubiquitous coffee shops in Vienna.

When the Turks invaded Europe they were brought to an inglorious halt just outside Vienna thanks to the combined efforts of the Austrians and the Hungarians. In their haste to return to the land of Paul the Apostle, the Turks left behind hundreds of thousands of bags of coffee beans. The Viennese, always quick to see a good business venture, gathered up the spoils of war before they were spoiled and opened coffee shops throughout the city and region. Honest! Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction. So again coffee had great power. It helped restore the spirits of a nation recovering from war and poverty.

Maybe we could squelch the numerous peace protesters if we could get them hooked on a Double Mocha Latte with cream, or a great Café latte. They would be so distracted with the great taste, the nerve shaking caffeine, and the need to maintain a second mortgage to pay for such delights, they wouldn’t have time to waste protesting such things as war, poverty and inhuman treatment. This could be an insightful plan put forth by congress and other bastions of political intrigue.

People like to protest. War, taxes, other people, whatever they don’t think is right, at least for them, they protest against it. Sometimes they protest for justice and other times for personal gain. I’ve always thought it interesting there are no calls for protests in Scripture! If you look up the word protest, and its derivatives, you don’t see the church called to stand on the street corner and shout in opposition.

Instead I remember reading where Paul wrote, “If it is possible, as much as it is up to you, be at peace with all men.” (Romans 12:18 WEB) Instead of protesting, God calls us to live a life worthy of our calling. God calls us to live a life like our Savior, who only protested once, by himself, in his father’s house. Remember, the beatitude, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.” (Matthew 5:9 WEB) We are to be the salt of the earth bringing the seasoning of God’s grace to mankind so we will be at peace with one another (Mark 9:50).

I like Viennese coffee and a good America Café Mocha. Sipping on some Java, thinking of my Savior’s love for me, both work to calm my heart at what I see as injustice around me. Then I realize, I need to work on myself, from the inside out. Maybe, just maybe, if we don’t stand on street corners but work to get our own house in order we can enjoy a cup of coffee, be at peace with the world around us, and look forward to Christ’s return and the end to injustices.

Would you prefer your coffee from South America or Turkey? If you’re not sure, just visit Starbucks, or Coffee to go, and they will give you a long list of options. 

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