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!),