Today, along with 999 other faith leaders (there would have been more, but the conference call capacity tapped out even before the call began), I spent an hour on listening to the leaders of the Groundswell movement, the Moral Resistance Movement, the Revolutionary Love movement, the Shoulder to Shoulder movement: Valarie Kaur, a Sikh woman, mother of a two-year-old, and resistance leader; Rev. Dr. William Barber, of the Moral Monday movement in North Carolina and author of The Third Reconstruction; and Catherine Orsborn, community organizer against Islamophobia, sharing their vision of how we might respond to these times.
It was a powerful call, knowing that I was in the company of so many not only longing to be a part of something bigger, but willing to be. It was a powerful call, taking in the wise and grounded information and instructions from these skillful religious leaders in interfaith relationship with each other and the rest of us.
Here is what I heard Ms. Kaur say:
- Call your elected officials. Every day.
- Exercise your voice in all your spheres of influence: work, family, play, spiritual life.
- If you have 650 words in you, write them down and get them out: in an op-ed in your local paper, in a blog.
- Take part in this weekend’s actions of solidarity with immigrant and particularly Muslim communities.
The day after the election, Ms. Kaur wrote one of the most powerful invocations from that haunting day. Here it is, in part:
What if this darkness is not the darkness of the tomb, but the darkness of the womb?
What if our America is not dead but a country still waiting to be born? What if the story of America is one long labor?
What if all the mothers who came before us, who survived genocide and occupation, slavery and Jim Crow, racism and xenophobia and Islamophobia, political oppression and sexual assault, are standing behind us now, whispering in our ear: You are brave? What if this is our Great Contraction before we birth a new future?
Remember the wisdom of the midwife: “Breathe,” she says. Then: “Push.”
Now it is time to breathe. But soon it will be time to push; soon it will be time to fight — for those we love — Muslim father, Sikh son, trans daughter, indigenous brother, immigrant sister, white worker, the poor and forgotten, and the ones who cast their vote out of resentment and fear.
Reverend Barber, powerful orator, compelling political tactician, and clear-sighted prophet, reminded us that “we’re not in the worst time, we’re just in OUR time.” He reminded us that things have been worse in this country – slavery and lynching; indigenous genocide; female disenfranchisement – and that we are wise to remember this and let it inform and inspire us. He reminded us that underneath the impetus for civil disobedience is the clear-sighted moral obedience.
Rev. Barber directed us to do these things:
- Go to the Repairers of the Breach web site and learn what it offers – videos, readings – it should take 4-6 hours and remember: this is not just about Trump, but was happening long before he became candidate and won.
- Sign up here if you are willing to be trained to use your body in your acts of resistance.
- Pay attention for upcoming announcements about tactics and dates.
Do not let this be just a moment. Be a part of making it a movement. All successful movements must have a methodology.
Thirdly, this is what I heard from Catherine Orsborn:
- There is a call for all houses of worship, as an act of solidarity with Muslims, who have been specifically targeted by the current administration’s executive orders and rhetoric, to focus on amplifying the voices of Muslims at their religious services this weekend.
- In this week coming, send a note of encouragement to a local Islamic Center – even flowers, or offer to draw chalk message of love, welcome, and protection.
- This coming Friday, attend prayers at a local mosque or community center. It’s best if you call ahead of time to let them know of your plans and if you are not already in relationship, to begin that important journey. We are in this together and it is well past time we know each other.
Here is the link to the Rapid Response Guide for People of Faith & Moral Conscience. There’s alot in this document –powerful stuff. Perhaps good to sit with others to reflect upon it and better integrate it. This comes to us from the which seems to be doing some kick-ass organizing and inspiring!
There is much to do. More than one person can do. More than one thousand people can do. This is so very true and feels at times like a heavy load.
From my own faith tradition, Unitarian Universalism, I offer these words of inspiration and comfort from Everett Edward Hale:
I am only one, but I am one.
I cannot do everything, but I can do something.
And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.
These are our times. They belong to no one else. So with humility, intentionality around rest and laughter, persistence and insistence, let us be the ones who rise up, building not only resistance, but resilience along the way.