There was a time when Protestant Christianity was considered to be a popular force for good, rather than a popular force for oppression. There was a time when the American Dream, the American government, and America’s commitment to “liberty and justice for all” were all aligned. There was a time when we all wanted to be brothers and sisters. Some of those times were a long time ago, some just seem to be a long time ago.
I had started to give up on that world view under Ronald Reagan, more under George Bush I, more under Bill Clinton, I gave up the hope for “truth” to win out when Bush II, Cheney, etc., took us to a war we knew was a lie. The Lie led to predictable consequences when the market crashed. I had hope for two years under Obama when the Tea Party and Republicans made their presence felt and “took back America” for themselves, instead of for the country’s people who had elected that President. I hoped against hope when Trump got elected that America wanted to do the right thing. Most of America, I remain convinced, does want to do the right thing. Still, a larger and larger portion of America, plus a leadership that wants to be hateful, added to by “evangelicals” who are interested in keeping things like they were in the 1950’s (read “white”) led to where we are.
In short, decent, actual regular people live in a world where they have have come to believe that their leaders want the outcast to suffer. Some of those regular people bought into that and also want the outcast to suffer. What they don’t realize is that, after society removes the outcast, they’re next. The government wants some people to not be American, right-wing religious leaders want some people not to be considered human, or worthy of love, and the rest of the world doesn’t matter, either, because our psyche and souls are sick, and they have been for some time. The will to divide us into “real people” and “outcast” is blasphemy — the sin of hatred for the brothers and sisters that the same “Father ” that created us.
So, in the middle of speaking into a void religiously, emotionally, and politically, a voice of hope came from my wife, sitting in the living room. “Hey, did you hear about the minister’s march on Washington? Something about judicial reform, Al Sharpton…. are you going?” I knew immediately that that was the only place on earth the God I believe in would want me to be.
I’ve been getting old lately. I have diabetes and the day of the march, I had a blister on my toe (I know, boo hoo…) My breathing has been bad, my hip hurts if I do any walking or climbing, and just generally I’ve felt worn out. In the words of an old song, I’m “sin sick and sorrow worn”. Yet, on the morning of the walk, because that was where I needed to be, my feet did not hurt, my lungs never required a “puffer”, and my hip didn’t hurt most of the journey to the Department of Justice. My mind, body, and Spirit were in synch. My psychology heroine, Virginia Satir, calls that “congruence” and says it is a state of flow with the Universe.
I long for the day, and felt it myself at the March, when the world feels in synch again — when people begin to believe that God calls us to love each other rather than divide ourselves, when justice makes sense to our national soul so that we actively chase it, when God’s name is used for the right things, when my wife, my daughter and I can all laugh at things that are now just irony.
Before the 3,000 ministers and 2,000 laity marched, those things were like a penny dropped down a deep well: they made no noise. Now, at least, I hear an echo coming back. At the rally, people of three or four faiths, many colors, different genders and gender identities, and different ages — in the middle of their own pain — prayed for the people of Houston. I suspect that many of those Texans wouldn’t let some of us share a toilet with them, or others expect justice from them, or expect control of our own bodies in that state. Yet the prayers came, and they came easily. This, in real time, is what “we shall overcome” means. This is what Jesus meant when he said “pray for those who persecute you”, and our community on a field in DC had managed it.
Yes, Martin and Jesus were there in Spirit, so yes, it felt good to be in community. The speakers and preachers were of one mind and one accord — that we should take care of each other simply because God created all of us. There were no arrests that I know of, there was no violence, no weapons — nothing but a peaceful line of 5,000 people. Was there anger? Maybe. Was there a lot of hurt evident? Definitely. Grace, though, was stronger than all of those things.
In the book “Little Big Man”, the native Americans say, when asked about White man’s time schedules, say things like “It was a good day to go fishing”. Yes, there is trouble in the world. Yes, North Korea still threatens war. Yes, some member of the administration undoubtedly lied that day. Yes, Taylor Swift had out a new (horrible) song. Robert Mueller’s team continued doing what it is doing. None of that mattered. We couldn’t remain frightened that day, or hang on every syllable of the news cast. It was a good day to care, and a good day to march. It was a good day to be with God. As I’ve said, there was no place on earth I’d rather have been that day.
Resisting with Peace,