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When the past isn’t past

So many have spoken about the interactions between the past and the present that to say so has become a truism. We know how the conflicts from the previous era live on in our shared life and also know how critical events in family history live on.

I have one image from my trip to Alabama this week that I share. It was in the Equity Institute. Shortly after you enter you pass through an area with dimmed lights and a series of “windows.” In each of them is a ghostly holographic figure of a slave. They talk, in low and hushed voices, as if fearful of their abusers, about the abhorrent conditions of their lives.

In the last window on the main wall is a slight figure, smaller than the rest and almost motionless except for an occasional faint movement of breath or a slight movement of the hands clasped so tightly in front of the small body. No words. Almost no motion.

Ben McBride of PICO, a national faith-based movement focused on issues of equity and belonging, invited us throughout the trip to think about whose humanity is being disregarded in our times and who is being called into leadership despite the risk.

This week the ACLU is representing the incarcerated immigrating children in another case trying to stop these dehumanizing practices. And our young people are calling us into a climate strike. Others among them are calling us into action to prevent the senseless gun violence which is so common as to be almost mundane for them.

Echoes of those ghosts seem everywhere.

Author William Faulkner was right when he said, “The past is not dead. It is not even past.”

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