Rev. Valerie's Reveries

This blog contains personal reflections from Unitarian Universalist minister Valerie Mapstone Ackerman.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

OUR WORST FEARS REALIZED?

XMAS 2005

[Another little missive from my journal.....What would it mean if we decided that our worst fears were being realized? This question posed by a colleague got me on a rant which I share below. See I told you I'd rant!!]

If we realized that we were unconsciously or neglectfully or distractedly or (perish the thought) willfully complying with the degradation of liberty and justice for all via seamless cooperation between political and corporate power (the new and improved fascism) then maybe, just maybe we would forgo re-runs of Desperate Housewives, remove the earbuds connected to our iPods, turn off Fox News, recycle the Victoria's Secret catalog, step outside the Starbucks, cancel the reservation at Chez Ch-Chi, foreswear another junket to yet another exotic land, donate the SUV to the Girl Scouts, avoid The Mall, renege on the contract to build or buy a McMansion, renew our membership in ACLU, The Interfaith Alliance, Greenpeace, the Sierra Club, PETA, NRDC, Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, Pastors for Peace, etc. etc.

In other words, if we noticed that we were supporting and perpetuating astonishing injustice, through inaction and inattention perhaps we would decide to make whatever sacrifices were necessary to change the course of events. Further, if we realized that changing history requires cooperation, concerted effort and deep commitment perhaps we could teach ourselves to follow leaders and teach ourselves to become leaders and learn to recognize the log in our eyes more frequently then we spot the mote in the eye of the other. And then perhaps we could find the necessary compassion to awaken and act in the face of the juggernaut of destruction apace in Washington and our state capitols and our courthouses and city halls. Just a few days ago Congress finalized the game plan for not just shredding the safety net (that began long ago, before the safety net was even off the loom) but replacing it with a wet paper towel. As a nation we have abandoned the young, the poor, the elderly and the disabled systematically, intentionally, heartlessly. We have "channel[ed] all the treasure to the chosen few" (Eliza Gilkyson) by means of worshipping the false idol of "the free market."

Whether we choose to acknowledge it or not, we have abdicated our responsibility to BE the prophets we wish to follow. If we allow ourselves the luxury of concern for the poor and the weak, we sit waiting for Gandhi or King or Jesus or Joan D'Arc or Jane Addams to return. We assail any reasonable facsimile of these great men and women of history (or legend) because we always see first shortcomings or imperfections or weak analysis or pitiful idealism. Too many parish ministers self-censor with one eye on the budget and the other on the wealthy curmudgeon in row two.

UUs love to play the game of naming the great men and women of our history while forgetting that they paid a dear price at the hands of their U or U contemporaries and while also forgetting that the price paid was ALWAYS worth it because nothing good comes of compliance with oppression. Read again MLK's "Why We Can't Wait" and "Letter from the Birmingham Jail" if you need a refresher course in being called to make history happen.

How did the story go?....Thoreau is in jail for nonpayment of a poll tax when his friend (Emerson?) asks why he is there. He says, "The question is why are you out there?" Do we know where we are and why? Are we choosing to see what is before us? And if we have seen, can we still defer doing the grassroots organizing that always has and always will be the source of all change for the better?

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