June 5, 2018
The rally at the State Capital began at 2 pm, but I got home at 11 pm. We experienced a rally, a march, a “die in” at a lobbyist’s home, blocking traffic and peaceful measures of civil disobedience all working to share a message about the violence and injustice of ecological policies and the connection to issues of healthcare. Throughout the day, a familiar refrain rang out, “Everybody’s Got a Right to Live!” Care of earth and care for fellow human beings focused our attention and cries for justice to be done, and the demand to engage in a “War on Poverty, Not on the Poor!”
Events of the day moved from our own Rev. Dr. Kelle Brown leading the assembly and sharing an impassioned story of her family’s experience with support in healthcare dealing with HIV/AIDS, to marches and actions around the Capital neighborhood. The experience was designed to draw attention to the injustice of policies which perpetuate profits over people, which promote the continued poisoning of people in Flint, Michigan; the 4,600 lives lost and devastation still being experienced in Puerto Rico following last year’s Hurricane Maria; the pharmaceutical industry profiting from people being trapped by the desire to sustain sickness rather than provide for treatment and cures. The examples go on and on.
I arrived with my clergy collar, children of the world stole and rainbow lanyard cross, holding my sign to join those in affirmation and in protest. I became one called on to function as a “Peace Keeper” to be a barrier between demonstrators and the public. I stood in front of them as persons lay in the streets. Others used their car horns to rage against being inconvenienced in our privilege, rather than standing with the poorest among us against policies perpetuating and legislating violence on the earth and people. Others, including our own Tad Anderson, committed themselves to being “arrested” for the cause to continue to draw attention to the Poor People’s Campaign demands. (For a more complete understanding, please go to https://www.poorpeoplescampaign.org/demands/ )
At the end of the day, 16 persons were arrested. Olympia police officers were helpful and professional; we made our point… and yet a question lingered in my mind as we conversed on the drive back to Seattle and in my dreams. “Does EVERYBODY really mean EVERYBODY to us?” The challenge came to own our complicity in the actions which still take place today at home and around the world, because the injustice is not one we all personally face. While we may find inconvenience, we do not experience oppression and violence in the same manner. We could choose to be present or not, rally and march or not, face arrest or not, even have a place to go home. The painful reality at the end of the day for me was that I was not really invested in EVERYBODY, and neither is the community of faith. The collective outrage was tame. The resistance was painfully polite. The impact… nothing in the news to call people to greater awareness. And the response from our own people was timid. We pride ourselves in being people who support great causes, yet over the span of the campaign, we’ve been content with 3-5 Plymouth people being our representatives, rather than raising our collective voice in mass by our participation. It caused in me a lament and a prayer of confession, “Forgive me, God, for my disregard and neglect of both the earth and all your people. Lead me to live in such a way that EVERYONE will know that “Everbody’s Got a Right to Live!”
Yours in grace and hope, Rev. Steven Davis, Executive Minister
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