This morning I hiked a hill above our home. It was so steep that my lungs began to explode with burning, short breaths. At the crest of the hill, my breathing returned to normal and I compared the tremendous effort and exertion with the energy it is going to take to maintain freedom in our country today. Most of the time I consider if what I am doing will make the world better. It is a conscious choice to focus each step on moving in a positive direction, each word I speak on raising hope, and each interaction I have with others to be fiercely for truth.
The political and social environments today are toxic with hate speech. Many people — more than half our nation — feel woeful after the election. There have been vicious attacks on people of color and women in the few days since the newly elected politicians have said they want to abolish a woman’s right to choose, cancel billions of dollars in climate finance, the future vice president spouting anti-LGBTQI politics, and people wave Confederate flags at parades. It is astounding.
New Zealand Green Party member, Metiria Turei, wrote in the Guardian “We need to say now, even louder than ever before, that we will keep fighting for the values we believe in. We will not stay silent when men brag about sexually assaulting women. We won’t accept lies and hate speech about women, or migrant, refugee and Muslim communities. We won’t stop pushing to prevent catastrophic climate change.” 1
The fight for equality and justice is part of my DNA. I have a sense memory of oppression, peace marches, and songs of resistance. For two days, I mourned the country’s return to the outspoken hatred, misogyny and racism I had seen my whole life. But now I am fired up, as President Obama encouraged us to be before Tuesday, November 9th. I remember what is required to transcend the roadblocks, the fire hoses, and the attack dogs.
Since 2012, when I studied “Spirit, Compassion, and Community Activism” with Susan Carter, Ph.D., I have described myself as a spiritual activist. Activism does not just mean a militant protest or demonstration. Dr. Carter wrote: “I personally equate activism with social action — and agree that both can be in the form of the ‘little’ things in everyday living, as well as larger public actions. I like to think of activism in relation to ‘activation’ — as a spark, or as a “putting forth” — to put spirit into action in the world.”
As a spiritual activist, I pray for strength and vision for each of you. I pray for the healing of divisions, misperceptions, and ignorance. I promise to be an ally for those who are being attacked or harmed in any way. A short video by “Films for Action” lists five ways to disrupt racism: 1. Don’t be a bystander 2. Film it (a racist act) and report it 3. Stick around for the victim 4. Tackle the culture of racism 5. Actively fight racism (www.facebook.com/videorev »)
And I say, chant your chants, sing your songs, challenge the actions of elected officials, and work for equality and integrity for all.
I searched for the hymns of the movements of my childhood. Earth Wind and Fire’s That’s the Way of the World is a message I am singing now:
Looking back we’ve touched on sorrowful days,
Future passes, disappears…
You will find peace of mind
If you look down in your heart & soul…
Don’t hesitate cause the world seems cold…
Stay young at heart cause you’re never ever old.
That’s the way of the world…” 2
Marian Wright Edelman wrote: “…Never has the call to moral and political struggle for justice been more urgent in our nation and world as now when forces of regression seek to erode — indeed destroy — racial and gender progress and dash the hopes of millions of children for a life free from poverty, hunger, homelessness, unequal education, health care, and a chance to get ready for school through quality early childhood supports.
How can we make a difference? By remembering and respecting the sanctity of all human beings — created by and equal in God’s sight — whatever their race, creed, color, gender, sexual preference, or disability. In this time of racial, gender, economic, and political divisiveness, coarsening of political rhetoric, and fraying of America’s democracy, I hope we adults can transmit respectful messages of hope and decency that build and not tear down our community, national and world civility and mutual respect.” 3
I sincerely hope you will join me in creating a more perfect union that is wise, understanding, reverential, loving and powerful. In the ‘60s, we said, “Power to the People.” Today, regaining this power sounds like a mountain too high to climb, but I will not turn back.
November 15, 2016