Tomorrow my sister Kathie plans to go to a “Moral Mondays” demonstration in Raleigh. She may even participate in civil disobedience there. Because she lives in North Carolina, I’ve been watching the right-wing coup that has been taking place in what has been a relatively progressive Southern state. The state took over Asheville’s public water district, which has always been locally-run and locally-funded, without negotiation or compensation. The legislature is now in the process of dismantling voting rights, firing environmental regulators, cutting unemployment compensation, firing teachers’ aides, increasing class sizes, and ending safety net protections for the most vulnerable people.
Powerful billionaire Art Pope, active in ALEC, is now North Carolina’s Budget Director. Pope has been called “a cross between the Koch brothers and Karl Rove.” Big money, corporate sponsors, and entrenched political players are clearly at work here, aligned to make true democracy irrelevant. And yet, in the face of incredible odds against them, people are rising up to say “no.”
This is not just happening in North Carolina, but around the world: in Taksim Square, in Brazil, in Idle No More and related actions against the Keystone XL pipeline, in anti-drone actions, in appearances of still-alive Occupy movements. People are also engaged in smaller but persistent struggles taking place around the world.
It is heartening to see people rising up in resistance to the Powers that Be. Why? For one thing, many of us know that only through “we the people” is there any hope of turning back the ascendant evil of today’s domination system, which consumes life and threatens the future. For another, when people join together, rise up, say “enough,” and organize new ways of being in community, it is an expression of our humanity. I’m convinced that the Spirit is present wherever people resist dehumanization and come more fully alive.
During the Nazi Regime, theologian William Stringfellow claimed that in times of great social evil, resistance enables us to maintain our humanity. We live in such a time. Stringfellow wrote, “In resistance people live most humanly. ‘No’ to death means ‘yes’ to life.”
As we stand together, respecting all aspects of our diversity as human beings, joining in solidarity with people of every race, class, and nation, resisting the powers of death, we express our humanity. We are connected! We are in solidarity with each other as we take our turns standing against the takeover of our world by institutional forces that would have us believe that they cannot be stopped. As I wrote in “In Resistance is the Secret of Joy“:
In resistance to the institutions and systems that destroy the earth and crush the life out of people, hope comes alive. As we withdraw our consent from these Powers, practicing noncooperation, finding or creating life-supporting alternatives, what has seemed impossible becomes possible because we are willing to pay the price to make it so. It is like the difference between being a spectator in the stands and being a player on the field. As Dorothee Soelle says, “Only when we ourselves enter the game and bind our own life inextricably to the game’s outcome does hope arrive.
As we begin the process of breaking free, we recognize others engaged in the same process and we see that change is not only possible, but is happening now. Then, in spite of the risks, losses, and even sacrifices, the struggle becomes joyous, even fun. Fun? Yes, fun, energizing, inspiring, hopeful.
People rising up in so many places is hopeful. It is evidence of a resurgence of humanity.
I wish I could go with you tomorrow, Sister. I’ll be with you in spirit.
To find out more about North Carolina and Moral Mondays, read “Protestors Shake Up North Carolina’s Legislature.” Read about the takeover of Asheville’s water district, clergy involvement in Moral Mondays, Art Pope pushing the ALEC agenda, and “Why North Carolina’s Moral Mondays Matter for Democracy and the Planet.“