20,000 Steps

This was posted on my Facebook page on the wee hours of last Monday morning….

Yes, I am up very late. It is because I took a nap. I took a nap because I logged more than 9 miles today (20,000 steps but who other than my phone is counting). Much of that was the odd path I took through the counter-protests today. I find myself with many emotions and questions.

First, gratitude’s: To have the leadership of Pastors Michael McBride and Ben McBride. To see Rev. Dr. Rosemary Bray McNatt so prominently featured in the faith-based part of the rally and also to have Sofia Betancourt on the front line of the religious response. (As a multi-racial person with white skin privilege, I followed the lead of the black religious leaders with gladness.) I was also grateful for the hospitality, however unintentional, of The Way, as I shared a van ride with a group from there and met good people and skilled leaders. Because of how the city was cordoned off by police, we were dropped off at an inopportune location and ended up walking through the park as the violence was happening. The care this group of strangers took with one another to be sure we had one another’s backs was noteworthy. The seminarians I encountered and the folks from the Way were good company. And finally, I am grateful that more were not hurt on this day when so many differences came together.

Second, disappointment and anger at the media coverage which did not capture the complexity of the occasion–or even the diversity. Note that I am disappointed and angry AND not surprised. The media has decided that protests are no longer news. I learned that in Phoenix, Arizona where many tens of thousands were ignored. Violence is news. And that has implications.

Third, questions–the kind that make you write at 1 in the morning:
*If the religious response is the non-violent response as it is for many, including me, how do we reconcile the fact that it is ineffective because so many religious people chose not to take the risks of non-violence?
*What is the place of violent confrontation in social change when peaceful means have not addressed the core issues?
*How has the ineffectual and anemic approach of religious liberals contributed to the rise of more violent and confrontational tactics among our younger leaders?
*If, as I know to be a truth, shame is not a motivator for change, how do we get more of the faithful to heed the call of our kin, especially those who are black and brown-skinned and trans
who have so much unwanted wisdom about the essential brokenness of the systems which only keep some of us safe?

In these last 10 months, we have focused so on the reasons why the disenfranchised enabled our current national leadership and so little on why those young adults who share our values stayed away from the voting booth.

In those days ahead, I suspect I will have more questions that answers. We live in interesting times and simple answers do not abound. I know some will fault me for complexifying what they would like to simply celebrate or simply condemn. Simplifying and looking for easy answers with no cost is what got us in this mess– my opinion.

This must be a movement and not a moment. As Pastor McBride said during the rally, we need to be out demanding justice EVERY day.

Forgive me for this rare excess of post. My heart and head have walked more miles than even my feet today. Still–in the words of the chant from today–

I

I believe

I believe that we will win

[because]

The people, united, will never be defeated.