Posted by: Grandma LaLa | February 19, 2017

Resist and persist in your unique way

This weekend, with our schedule more open-ended than usual, I’ve continued to contemplate the insights from Yale historian Timothy Snyder related to the challenges imminent and future for our core national values and commitments. Learning from the lessons of the 20th century to defend and protect our shared freedoms and diverse community. Focusing on one core issue and institution we will each defend, coordinating and interweaving our actions and advocacy with the unique efforts of other citizens.

Having claimed protecting our planetary ecosystems and (more indirectly) protecting the scientists whose research helps us to identify and make good choices for earth’s future, I’ve also continued to contemplate how best to direct my efforts. I keep coming back to my memory of a conversation in the late 70s.

The Indiana Disciples Peace Fellowship (of which I was the leader that year) had organized a multi-day walk in southern Indiana. The event, called “Meeting Halfway,” involved half of our group walking from Washington (IN) and half walking from Moscow (IN), culminating in a celebration in Bloomington (which was about midway between the two small towns). We stayed in local churches each night and walked on local roads and small highways each day, stopping occasionally to talk with fellow citizens. Our purpose was to engage citizens in conversation about the US and Soviet nuclear threats, talking about the nuclear freeze as one effort to reduce the likelihood of a nuclear conflict between the superpowers.

Bill Breeden was one of my walking companions for that event. Bill and his wife, Glenda, were long-standing peace activists. They knew Daniel and Philip Berrigan from joint anti-Vietnam-War actions in the 60s. They’d been arrested multiple times. They were living a very simple lifestyle “off the grid” in order to be free to make the witnesses to which they felt called. Bill was one of those people who finds a way to direct almost every breath to his convictions and his calling. It was humbling to walk beside him.

At some point in that week, I confessed to Bill that I felt deeply called to witness and advocate for peace and justice, but I didn’t feel called to do things for which I’d be arrested (such as breaking into federal buildings; destroying federal records; trying to find and damage missile silos; etc). I asked Bill if he thought I was selling out and choosing based on fear of the consequences.

Bill’s response surprised me, although knowing him it shouldn’t have. His response was entirely grace-filled; not one word of judgment.

He reflected that we human beings are each individual and unique. He believes that God calls us to defend, protect, and advocate for the same core values of peace, justice, and faithful relationship. But he also believes that God’s call comes to each of us in different ways and for different efforts. We are unique, so our calls to action will also be distinct.

He affirmed that some of us are called to take direct actions. Others are called to march and raise awareness through increasing visibility of the issues and concerns. Some of us are called to persuasively communicate with our national, state, and local government representatives. Others contribute to these core community values through our artistry, through our research, through our teaching, through our mentoring relationships with children and grandchildren.

Yes, some of the actions and efforts to transform our community toward justice need to be coordinated with others. Bill’s point, I think, was that every concerted effort contributes to power of the whole.

I agreed with Bill then ~ and I agree with him now. We’re not all called to march. And those of us that are called, are not necessarily called to join every march. We’re called to act and advocate ~ and to do so in ways that best use our talents, our perspectives, and our voices.

Resist and persist in your unique way. That’s what makes the fabric of our diverse national and international community the strongest!

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