Get Up and Go
“When a man asks himself what is meant by action he proves that he isn't a man of action. Action is a lack of balance. In order to act, you must be somewhat insane. A reasonably sensible man is satisfied with thinking.”
James A. Baldwin
I've lately been involved in the national movement/organization called Faith in Action. It is a large group of people from faith communities across the broad religious spectrum, who want to move the needle forward in terms of social justice. Most recently we hosted a forum for two candidates for District Attorney to discuss disparity in sentencing, mass incarceration and the inequities around who goes to jail, and for how long. More than five hundred people—from Christian to Bahai—met at a large Missionary Baptist Church right here in the heart of Dixie, where it isn't cool to be open-minded about much of anything.
Now, in the interest of full disclosure, almost nothing in me wants to get up off my seat and go out on dark streets at night to do this stuff. I'd so much rather be at home with something sewing-related in my hands, just thinking about all the terrible injustice there is in the Land of Free and the Home of the Brave, and tut-tutting. In fact, that's what I've done for about forty of my seventy years. But there's another “something” in me that just won't allow it. It tells me that I'm sick and tired of this; that injustice is simply wrong on the level of the human heart and soul. People of conscience, and most certainly people who stake a claim to God, must stand up and be counted in the justice column. But, I confess that I wish it weren't me.
I have a million reasons. Well, maybe not a million, but certainly a few. I don't like to drive at night, especially in unfamiliar parts of town. It scares me more than a little to see street scenes of protesters. It has a dangerous feel to it, and it looks exhausting. I want to pick and choose my justice issues—and I choose the safe ones that are happening far, far away. These are all reasons of a sensible person, right? But then, I see on television a group of white men, who led an armed take over and occupation of a national park for months, acquitted of all charges, while an unarmed Sioux Indian is mauled and arrested by riot police, for trying to protect the only thing he has—his own sacred territory. Or a black man, shot dead for running away after a traffic stop. It's just not right, y'all. Somebody has to stand up and say so. If not me, then who?
People of faith cannot afford to be silent in the face of injustice. We cannot be content with thinking about it, and feeling bad. It's time to get up and do something. It's definitely insane, and out of balance, and I don't like it one little bit. But the call is clear. Who will answer if not we who call ourselves the children of God?
In the Spirit