Hi Sisters – what an amazing weekend! Here’s a blog I wrote this morning, inspired by Marianne and our time together.
Wanted to share a blog post I write this morning, inspired by Sister Giant
A More Perfect Union
How is a democracy “of the people for the people by the people” protected and sustained? For the first time in my life, in its sixth decade, I am asking this question.
Leaving Sister Giant this weekend, I’m moved to go into deep meditation around questions surrounding our fragile and essential experiment in democracy. I learned more this weekend than I can possibly articulate, which I will be “metabolizing” over the next weeks. But what is most apparent to me is this:
Our democracy is sick. It is barely surviving on life support. And if we don’t act quickly and intelligently, it will be lost.
It is not Donald Trump that has caused this – he merely rode the incoming wave of forces that have been meticulously cultivated over many decades.
What do I do about it? Yes, like you I suspect, I’ve been signing petitions, marching, making donations to social justice organizations like the ACLU, and spending half my waking hours on Facebook and Twitter.
Marianne Williamson, in her seemingly infinite intelligence and wisdom, challenged us to go beyond the question of “what do I do?” To understand the original vision of our founding fathers. To understand the forces at work since that time that have sought to block human liberty, deny equality, and restrict human freedoms. And to consider our own complicity in these processes.
What? Me complicit? A nice, White upper middle class Jersey girl who minds her own business?
That’s exactly right – too much minding my own business. I was born into most advantages: a “very good” public school, a 5-bedroom home on one wooded acre, a swimming pool, and the “choice” to work at age 17 so that I could make more trips to the Monmouth Mall.
Growing up and as a young adult, I was “bored” by the topics of civics, history, and government. Music, math, science, psychology and religion were much more interesting to me. My Dad told me I could succeed at any career, be anything I wanted to be. So I ignored the subjects I thought were boring, abstaining from such courses in college and grad school. Even as I grew older, I paid ZERO attention to local politics, and little attention to national politics – I didn’t like the “negative energy” surrounding politics, and judged our public servants as “not intelligent enough” to be worthy of my attention and discourse – I’ll stick with my university crowd, thank you very much.
As the national divisions (red/blue, right/left) grew stronger in the 90’s, I felt the rift in my own extended family and grieved for the now strained relationships that were once sources of ease and love. I prayed that these family members would see reason and find their way back to the Christian-based values on which they had based their lives. I even indulged in the self-serving thought that older members of my family were in cognitive decline, causing their willingness to tolerate political leaders who promoted intolerance, homophobia, racism, and sexism while seeking to weaken gun safety laws and environmental protections.
My inclinations throughout my adult life have been to build family and community ties (shout out to the Oberlin community for the experience and utopian vision of what is possible). And yet, the communities I’ve sought to build and strengthen have been among like-minded, artistic, and “educated” people. I’ve never extended this focus beyond my own comfort zone or to the civic level – to everyone within a town or region, or to supporting and working for the laws that support a community life that sustains everyone.
It has never crossed my mind until now that democracy is fragile – perhaps its most fragile since the Civil War – and needs my care.
Since my life began, I have been a very lucky recipient of much that our democracy has offered – public education, free speech, freedom of travel and exploration, private property, economic security, safety, and a multicultural society. Other than voting every few years, and a few days of working to “get out the vote”, I have done nothing to care for our democracy. I have paid no attention to local or state politics. I’ve barely read bills that are up for vote. I’ve never attended a town hall or political meeting. In short, I was handed a functioning democracy as a child, and I have done nothing to care for it, keep it healthy, or protect it. I’ve assumed it would always “be here” for me.
My assumption died this past weekend. I am now one of many stepping forward to take care of this democracy we all share. I believe in the “more just and perfect union” and E Pluribus Unum as ideals to strive towards. I will care for our democracy as I care for my own health, my friends and loved ones, my creative work, and the sustainability of our earth. This is an essential foundation of my American life, an essential foundation of all our lives. Having confessed my sin of neglect, I will now work to make amends and do my part to assure the continuance of this precious democratic experiment.
Love it! And nice to “e-meet you” 🙂 I love your ending. “MY assumption died this past weekend.” It sure did. We’re all figuring out our way to engage and become a citizen.
I went onto this site to see how to connect and stay engaged, and will be committing to take actions, just am in the stage of figuring out how. Let’s stay in touch! Where is your blog posted?
That sounds awesome, Stacey. Just on Facebook (friend me?). Do you have any other suggestions for places to post it?
Thanks for sharing. Pleasure to meet you here virtually. I am still digesting much of what I experienced last week at Sister Giant all the while doing one thing a day to stay awake and in touch. Let’s all stay connected here in NJ. We will all need to support one another.
Absolutely, Beth. If you’d like to friend me on Facebook, you are welcome to as well.
Just discovering this forum. Anyone near Summit who wants to stay in touch for meet ups, let’s connect!
Peace and love,
Rev Dr. William J Barber II
Diana Butler Bass
Vera de Chalambert
Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal
Senator Bernie Sanders
Heidi L. Sieck
Rev Angel Kyodo Williams
Marianne Williamson 2016.
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