Monday, January 23, 2017

Why I marched

On Saturday I drove my oldest two daughters up to Champaign/Urbana to participate in our local Women's March. We joined several thousand men, women, and children and met up with some female United Methodist pastor friends. Todd, feeling left out but home working on his sermon, decided to put Harper in the car and join us. The march was peaceful, inspiring, and energizing and I was glad I'd brought my family to participate. We had lunch at a local restaurant and spent time with our clergy friends. It was a beautiful afternoon, both literally and figuratively.

I've received some questions (and criticism) about my views on the march. It seems to some that my faith and position as a pastor's wife are at odds with my views on social justice. Or that it's unchristian to disagree with our leaders and that we'd all be better off just staying quiet and going along to get along.

Not coincidentally, my social justice views line up very closely with those of the United Methodist Church on many, but not all, causes I care about. But I thought I'd clarify why I marched and what I believe. I don't expect everyone to agree with me, but perhaps this post will spark a discussion or raise awareness or inspire compassion.

So here goes.

Some folks were fired up that pro-life groups were "banned" from marching. I'm a pretty skeptical person by nature, so I was watching closely for censorship or exclusion. I can tell you with certainty that I didn't see it happening and that the tone of the crowd was open and inclusive. No one was checking causes at the door. There was no door; all were welcome. That said, I'm not sure how the rally speakers were chosen; I was not part of the planning committee. What I do know was that the speakers were diverse in age, race, culture, and faith background and spoke on a number of topics like common sense gun legislation, Black Lives Matter, the environment, and reproductive rights.

Which brings me to this: the pro-life and pro-choice camps could do so much more if they could find a way to work together. We have much in common, and ultimately want the best for all women and children. I think Fr. James Martin said it best on a post on his Facebook page this weekend:

I've read a few people trying to paint me as pro abortion. This is false.
I am pro life.
That means that I'm also pro social justice. 

That means that I am not only for the dignity of the human being from the moment of conception, but also for the dignity of the human being until the natural end of life. For life does not end with birth. A person who is truly pro life is pro all life, pro every stage of life, pro every stage of life for every person. For all life is sacred, because all life is created by God. 

That means that I support anything that helps a person live a full, healthy and satisfying life, in every part of the world. So I am for care for the poor, for a living wage, for affordable health care, for adequate housing, for a humane work environment, for equal pay for women, for generous child care, for the support of the aged and the infirm. 

That means I support caring for the marginalized among us: the refugee, the migrant, the displaced person, the homeless, the unemployed, the person with disabilities, the single mother, women who are abused, minorities of every kind who are persecuted, and all those who feel left out, mocked, lonely, ignored or frightened. 

That means that I am against torture, because it is an affront to human dignity. I am against the death penalty, the most serious affront to an adult life. I am against abuse and mistreatment in prisons. I am against war as a way to solve problems. 

That means I respect the lives of all creatures, and am therefore for the care of the world in which we live, for the environment in the broadest sense. 

That means I am pro peace, pro justice and pro reconciliation.
The longer I am a Jesuit, the longer I am a priest, the longer I live, and the more I pray and listen and observe, the more convinced I am of the sanctity and beauty of life.
So, yes, I am pro life. Pro all life.
I hope you are too.

The march showed the intersectionality of all of the issues for which we marched. Environmental justice is connected to food justice and maternal/child health, which is connected to economic justice, which is connected to racial justice, which is connected to gender justice. No single issue drove this march. And as much as people wanted to say it was anti-Trump, it wasn't. We won't accomplish much if we march for what we're against rather than what we're for. And if we wait to march until we all agree, we'll never leave our homes.

I deeply hope that the numbers of folks who came out for the Women's March will also take the the streets the next time a black body is shot without cause, or when the water protectors at Standing Rock are assaulted, or when our common land and water is degraded by yet another oil spill, or when our government takes away programs that serve the most vulnerable among us in favor of tax breaks for the wealthy.

I hope that white men and women begin to understand their privilege and reach out to their brothers and sisters of color to listen and try and understand how different their experiences can be. I hope that instead of telling them, "Don't worry, everything will be OK", they'll really listen and ask what can be done to help. That's something I'm personally trying to work on, as I don't often hear from people of color where I live, because frankly, there aren't any.

I'm curious to hear your stories. I'm open to hearing your comments. I'd be happy to answer your questions.

But know this: even if we don't agree, I marched for you. I marched for your children. Because I know we only rise by lifting each other up.

1 comment:

  1. Pro-Life groups were not banned from marching, however the women's march on Washington did remove the pro-life group from its official list of event sponsors and said its platform was pro-choice. They stated you cannot be pro-life and an authentic feminist. Really? I can and I'm guessing so can many others. My take away from this Women's march is I pray that this many believers and more in Christ would be bold, March and STAND UP for their beliefs in our amazing God. Let the WORLD know we are not ashamed of the Gospel, that we will shout it from the roof tops if needed. Why do we stand up for other things but not so much for our faith? Instead of Black lives matter I choose to think and say All Souls Matter. I choose to change the world 1 person at a time through sharing the Gospel. So please don't march for me or my children however as moms who believe in our Savior Jesus Christ I will lift your family up in prayer and ask that you do the same for mine.


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