This morning I was reminded of a small cartoon that I saw, years ago, of two men in a hillside, having a moment. One was obviously a “disciple” who was standing in front of the other, pictured as an “Elder/Learned One”. The caption read, “The road is long….take a sandwich!”
This week, as I read and heard the various musings, sharings and outraged comments from millions of Americans who are reacting to the onslaught of actions that this present administration has launched (in its assault on what so many of us hold as true, basic and time tested American values) I found myself forced to face something very real. Most of us are not “struggle tested citizens” in the sense of those in our history who have forged the very freedoms and rights that are now under attack.
Many of us were too young, too insulated or perhaps even too disconnected to get involved in the Modern Civil Rights, Vietnam, Peace or Women’s Movements. For many Americans, this is the very first time that the actions of their government has truly smacked them in the face hard enough to elicit the responses that we are now seeing daily. And it’s hard to see and feel this all around us and not get overwhelmed by it all. We are human and our lives are busy and fragmented. And it hurts!
But this is not new. And the story is not over. We need to gather ourselves and the stories that we either don’t remember or don’t know and get ready to walk the road together…for a while!. And on this journey, we need to remember that a sandwich, some joy and some company are the things that will get us through.
John Hume, one of the architects of the Northern Ireland peace process. is regarded as one of the most important figures in the political history of Ireland. He is a recipient of the Gandhi Peace Prize and the Martin Luther King Award, the only recipient of the three major peace awards. He once said “The civil rights movement in the United States was about the same thing… about equality of treatment for all sections of the people. And that is precisely what our movement was about.”
His persistence was legendary and his passion unfailing. And he took great energy and strength from the work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his fellow civil rights pioneers and using that as fuel, peace and justice prevailed where many thought it never could.
So as we continue to take on this most recent challenge to our nation’s freedom and justice, we must remember that, in our history, we have all the examples we need to persist and prevail. We need tell the stories of all of the women and men, boys and girls who gave us our legacy for justice. And we need to remember what is there to know in this time that will help us to persist and resist!
James Whitcomb Riley, the author of the classic “Little Orphan Annie” once said, “The most essential factor is persistence – the determination never to allow your energy or enthusiasm to be dampened by the discouragement that must inevitably come.”
Remember too, that self care, on the journey, is essential! So, every now and again, take a break, find some joy and sing some songs. It’s a long road ahead.
Mitukuye Oyasin (Lakota Sioux for “All My Relations”)