On Monday, I went to DC to join the Poor People’s Campaign in the final week of their season of Nonviolent Moral Direct Action. There, I joined with hundreds of clergy and low-wage workers from across the country in demanding (1) an end to the filibuster; (2) passing all provisions of the For the People Act; (3) fully restoring the 1965 Voting Rights Act; and (4) a $15 minimum wage.
Considering that over 200 of us were arrested, it was a “peaceful” day—nonviolent direct action in DC often feels like a choreographed dance. The Poor People’s Campaign was organized and informative, letting me know exactly what would happen and how it would all go. Everyone played their assigned roles, and although it was a long, hot, somewhat uncomfortable day, it was also a successful day of showing up, listening to the experiences of those who are most impacted, and putting my body and my privilege where it matters.
What was particularly striking to me about this action was the intentionality around the cultivation of joy. As we stood together risking arrest, as we stood waiting to be processed, as we stood waiting and waiting, we sang and stood in the fullness of our power. We carried each other forward with our voices and our bodies, dancing and singing in an embodiment of love and care. Actions like this aren’t actually about risking arrest. They’re about risking fierce joy and deep fulfillment of faith and call. They’re about risking deep love and engagement in the world, such that you become interconnected with a cause and with people in ways that will not let you go.
When I think about that phrase the Poor People’s Campaign uses —“moral direct action”—I think what is most important is to remember that not all “direct action” means risking arrest in front of the Senate. What matters is that we—each of us—risk the direct action that makes our heart quicken with love and justice and the fulfillment of our faith. What matters is that we—each of us—risk the fierce joy that comes from being in community with people. What matters is that we—each of us—risk engaging with a cause in a way that tethers us to that which we care about, forever.
For me, this is what it means to be a person of faith.
Where are you risking fierce joy and care today?
Forward together (not one step back!),
Thanks Laura ! It is good f or us to know of your experience – and to keep you words in mind, that we will each find a way to act in our own way to make a difference!
As someone who is too old to do what you did, I applaud you for your participation in the battle for justice. Although I prefer ensuring a minimum level of living to all rather than a minimum wage to workers, what is being sought is worthy (and, in some cases, essential). It seems that it will require an end to the existing filibuster rule to get the essential goals accomplished. By essential. I mean ensuring that our constitutional rights get protected by adding four committed liberals to a Supreme Court that is controlled by religious conservative extremists, that the residents of the District of Columbia get to enjoy the benefits of living in a state, that citizens everywhere get their right to vote protected, and that people everywhere are more protected from the deadly menace created by the gun industry. If the filibuster remains as a preventative obstacle to the above, attention must be turned to changing faces in the Congress by exercising our right to fund and vote in the 2022 and 2024 elections.