Friday, November 18, 2016

The Holy Work of Resistance

The analytics on my Twitter feed tell me my most retweeted tweet from last week was “I thought by now I’d be less nauseous.”

That data tells me what my heart already knew: that I am not alone in my struggle to process both the immediate impact and the long term implications of an election giving the most divisive and unqualified candidate in the history of politics the power to implement the misogynistic, racist, homophobic, Islamophobic, nativist, xenocentric policies which were the hallmark of his campaign. 

Likewise, the election told me what my head already knew: that we are a nation deeply divided and that the deep-seated combo of privilege and patriarchy are powerful roadblocks in the decades old journey toward making liberty and justice for all in this nation not just a pledge we make but a reality we live. The widely circulated meme names it with this quote: “When you’re used to privilege, equality feels like oppression.”

 The irony that liberty and justice won the popular vote is small consolation as the dust settles and we watch white privilege and patriarchy poised to dismantle the safety nets and protections in place to guarantee that equal protection equally protects all – not just some – Americans.

To my well meaning friends and colleagues who have quickly moved to calls to “wait and see” and “hope for the best” my response is this quote from Rabbi Abraham Heschel: “Patience is a quality of holiness, but it may be sloth in the soul when associated with the lack of righteous indignation.” For as a Christian – as a priest and pastor – I am righteously indignant at what is happening in our nation not in spite of being a follower of Jesus but because I am a follower of Jesus — and not feeling at all patient.

And so I take heart in these words from Gay Clark Jennings – the President of our Episcopal Church House of Deputies. She writes: “Reconciliation is holy work. Resistance is too. When the agendas of the president-elect and the new Congress scapegoat people of color and Muslims, deprive our fellow citizens of control over their lives, desecrate God’s creation or enrich the wealthy at the expense of the poor, we must oppose them. This is not a partisan political statement; it is a confession of faith.” 

This is not a time for patience. This is a time to use our collective righteous indignation as fuel for the holy work of resistance. This is a time to recognize that as the dust continues to settle one aspect of our post-election reality is the pulverization of the silos of competing oppressions that have too often separated us from those who are in fact our allies in the larger struggle.

This is no longer some straight people standing with gay people because their right to marriage is threatened; this is no longer some Christians standing with Muslims because their Mosque is under attack; this is no longer some white allies marching in Black Lives Matter protests or some cisgender folks showing up in solidarity on the Transgender Day of Remembrance. This is all of us under attack at the same time by the same agenda – an agenda antithetical to the core values of both Christianity and the Constitution.

And if we’re not righteously indignant we’re abdicating our responsibility to both our faith and to our country.

I thought by now I’d be less nauseous. But now that I think about it, I was nauseous for nine months twice – and ended up with two great kids to show for it. That was then and this is now. And now ... in this moment ... the stakes are way too high to let waves of nausea at every breaking news update immobilize us. Way too high.

So count me in. Count me in for reconciliation where it’s possible and resistance where it’s not – and count me in for solidarity in the struggle until liberty and justice for all finally becomes a reality we live, not just a pledge we make.

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