Saturday, December 27, 2014

An Ode to my Little Sisters and to a Growing Movement

          Those who know me a bit know that I am a proud political nerd. If I had a dollar for the amount of times that I check POLITICO, a news site focused on U.S politics, I would treat each of you to a flight to New York City and a really nice meal and a savory cocktail afterward.

            And as much as I can be cynical in regards to the state of our Democracy and the influence of crony capitalism the other day I ran into a photograph that reminded me of the humanity still struggling its way out of some of our politicians and the hope-potential still very much present in the resurrecting social movements which our country and our world is capable of. If you have some extra time in between your facebook or instagram cruising I encourage you to hear me out for a tiny bit.

            Like most U.S Americans I have had some good laughs due to Vice President Joe Biden. Don’t get me wrong I like the guy, I just can’t help but laugh a little when seeing him run around the White House with President Obama encouraging all of us to workout or the times when his tongue has slipped and he has said something he clearly was not supposed to say such as when he told President Obama that the healthcare bill was a big ‘fudging deal’. To have some laughs at his disposal check out this great top 10 Biden Political Gaffes by Time Magazine (Time Biden Gaffes). And yet the other day as cheesy as it might sound I was left a bit inspired by a picture I saw of him and his grand daughters.

            Both the picture and the caption left me surprisingly inspired. In the picture the Vice President was hugging both of his pre teen grand daughters as they looked out into some fireworks. Clearly the picture was political but it was also something deeply personal. In the picture Biden says something to the extent of how “"I will not rest until my granddaughters have every single right my son & my grandsons have." In the simplicity of his statement our Vice President reminded me of something that I hope to be reminded of every single day and that I myself acutely encountered during my time back from graduate school while in Los Angeles.

            I have been engaging in conversations and strategy sessions around how we will take our Democracy back, in conversations about how we can confront some of the racism at the root of our criminal justice system, of how we can create the momentum to sustain and build strong foundations for a new progressive movement for the 21st century- a movement that addresses the widening gap between the top .01% and the rest of us, and that finally engages all of us from all social classes and all racial/ethnic backgrounds in having the tough dialogue and action around the racism/sexism and other otherings still present in and still harming our society and our souls. For the most well thought out, bi partisan talk on this listen to Harvard Law Professor Larry Lessig speak to the need for this movement here.

            If this movement is to sustain us and be sustained by us it has to be both deeply personal and deeply universal. It has to have names that trigger our heartstrings and flood out our eyes. It has to cradle us to sleep at night and keep us awake on those early mornings on the way to work.

            Cornel West, professor at Union Theological Seminary, says that ‘Justice is what love looks like in public’ and if we are to be sustained in life long work for justice in the public square we must open our hearts to those names that flashing through our thoughts remind us of our deep desire to love the world with others until the day when ‘our swords turn into plowshares and violence is no more’.

            On Christmas Day I remembered that two of those names for me out of many where Victoria and Stephanie. My two little sisters, Victoria and Stephanie-11 and 10, where skipping around my mom’s apartment building with the joy of children imbued with the fullness of those special days that remind us of our need to love each other in simple and full ways. ‘Look at our cow jammies’ they said, with the beautiful subtle smiles of children who have yet to feel the weight of the brokenness of our world.

            My sisters had both received cow pajamas for Christmas and these two little cows completely filled my heart in an afternoon full of Disney and Home Alone and exploring worlds of new toys. As I made freshly squeezed orange juice Stephanie, the 10 year old, made sandwiches and I must say that no New York Deli and no Los Angeles hipster gastro pub can make a sandwich that tasty.

            As we played the afternoon away I could not help but re center my desire to work with all of you in the struggle for a more just world. Like Joe Biden with his granddaughters I want to ensure that my little sisters grow up in a country and in a world that offers them and all other children rich opportunities to engage the word of God aching to come out of their life-masterpieces and bless us all. And I am willing to offer my life to work with you all in confronting any systemic injustices in the public sphere that might limit their potential.

             Maybe part of the reason that our country is so polarized is precisely because the consequences are so personally felt even in the midst of the political. I hope that for the sake of our Stephanie’s and our Victoria’s and for the sake of those names that pull at your heart strings and make you smile as bright as the sun we can finally come together and think through ways and changes and a movement worthy of the deep love that we have for those whose smiles overshadow any of our cloudy days.

            Our country’s history and our world’s history has progressed forward in social movements composed of those beloved communities rash enough to hold on to this deeply personal, deeply universal hope and it is up to all of us to continue to sustain this spirit. I am excited to continue to engage with each of you in conversations around how this bridge building and this movement growing can happen.

            I have never been more hopeful that the love deep at the center of our human experience and of our human relationships will prevail over any cold economic/political theories that might pretend that profit growing can happen in a vacuum unwed from the relationship growing and love sustaining that makes us all human.

            And to those in the Oligarchy that resist and might call us childish and idealists we will hold up a mirror to remind them of the humanity that has been sucked out of them for there is nothing more idealistic then their notions that the system as it is, is working for all of us. And together we will sustain ourselves in new anthems and recycle ones of old proclaiming over and over the Rhyme and Reason in the way of John Denver, famous U.S American folk singer “ For the children and the flowers are my sisters and my brothers, and the song that I am singing is a prayer for non-believers. Come and stand beside us. We can find a better way”

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