In the Meantime
I am in the Detroit airport as I write this, on my way back to AZ. The election is not settled, and that means many Americans are not settled. As a democrat and a Michigan resident, I remain hopeful. As a part-time Arizonan I am grateful. But I also know that whatever the outcome, the work of building a just, equitable and fair society does not end here.
That’s why I look back to those words from Walter Brueggemann I quoted a week or two ago, “The prophetic tasks of the church are to tell the truth in a society that lives in illusion, grieve in a society that practices denial, and express hope in a society that lives in despair.” Whatever your personal politics and response to the election, this is our work as a community in these times. Why? Because only spiritual communities, called and thus accountable to spiritual values, have the moral authority to do this.
Because we believe in the worthy and dignity of all sentient beings, we have to say that out loud when society makes some of them into commodities and consumables and even pathogens. Because we believe there can be a more just, equitable and compassionate world, we grieve when society turns away from that vision. Because of all these and more, we believe there are “resources (divine and human) that are available for achievement of meaningful change [that] justify an attitude of ultimate optimism.” (James Luther Adams, UU ethicist and teacher).
If you are feeling frightened, angry, or hopeless, consider the many generations of African Americans who have endured far more. Look to the wisdom of that community – yes Dr. King but also James Baldwin, Fanny Lou Hamer, William Barber, Gwendolyn Brooks, John L. Lewis, Alice Walker, Bayard Rustin, Maya Angelou, Benjamin Mays and so many more. Surround yourself with these and other wise black voices.
Our task, as a particular spiritual community but also as one of many progressive white spiritual communities, if we want to take on those prophetic tasks, is to follow rather than lead, and learn from those who know how to keep keepin’ on.