Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Never Give Up

It was both healing and grounding to hear Krista Tippet interview Democratic Congressman John Lewis, an outstanding Civil Rights leader from Georgia. Mr. Lewis credits Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Thoreau for having taught him about non-violent resistance to injustice. He cites Bloody Sunday, the march that took place in Selma, Ala., on March 7, 1965, to demonstrate the desire of African-Americans to exercise their constitutional right to vote, as an example of how he and others prepared for many months using disciplined study, discussion and social drama to act out how they may respond. He felt ready to “put his own body on the line,” to “get in the way” of injustice, in a peaceful, loving, non-violent way! What was gleaned from these preparations was the desire to show care for one another and to appeal to the goodness of every human being, even your attacker; never give up on anyone! “Don’t lose the spark of the divine even in your attacker,” he would say, “Remember that love is not a sign of weakness! We’re supposed to be strong, love everyone.”

Nothing could stop Mr. Lewis from pursuing justice peaceably. During his lifetime he was jailed over forty times. . .but always came out feeling free and bigger! In talking about redemptive suffering, he said suffering can be redemptive only if one’s heart holds no desire for revenge. If we love our country and our democratic society and act upon our beliefs, we will-- sooner or later-- have to “speak with our feet; pray with our feet” i.e., do what the millions of people all over the world are doing at this critical moment in our history. They are marching and waiting for change. “Waiting is an elegant way of proving a right,” he said.  Of course, this does not eliminate the need to acknowledge within our community the frustrations that many share; but as Sister Simone Campbell suggests “perhaps our hearts must break before they can heal.”

One could conclude that “Black lives matter” is a result of the feeling free and bigger that people like John Lewis experienced as they watched the fragmentation of the South being put back together as a democracy. Or, that “All lives matter” is the message today’s disciplined marchers shout out to the world regardless of race, religion, color, sexual orientation, country of origin, etc.  It may take a long while for the message to meet all hearts and signers of executive orders. John Lewis cautions us to use patience. He goes on to say that “at times life is hard, hard as crystal steel . . .but we must not lose faith.”

His final words on Krista Tippet’s program stand true for us today, especially today: “Never give up. Find a way to make it real. Bring competing forces together! Be the glue! The love is there; move people together: A+B=C. Be consistent, persistent and patient. Be respectful, honest and open. There may be setbacks, disappointments . . .but it’ll happen—maybe not in your lifetime but you get to do all you can.”

Thank you, Congressman Lewis! Thank you, Krista Tippet!

Thank you to all who never give up on anyone!
Renee Domeier, OSB


No comments:

Post a Comment