Tomorrow many Christians will celebrate a feast of fire which they call Pentecost. Some of you may remember the story, and it feels as if fire is raining down on all our heads today, around our country, just as it did on the early apostles of the Pentecost story.
I asked my friend, a Lutheran minister, what he plans to say to his congregation tomorrow. He had just driven several hours to get home in time to attend a rally here in Columbia which turned ugly after he left, thinking it was over. He pointed out that we can let fire consume and destroy, or we can let it rise up inside us to emerge as righteous action.
Anger which destroys is not what is needed right now. Anger which demands justice certainly is. That fiery anger can be the fuel that keeps us working for something better long after the last protester has gone home. Here in South Carolina, one of the only states in the country without a hate crimes law, there is one crawling slowly towards a vote – get fired up about getting that passed.
Don’t just collect cans of food at a once-a-year Pagan festival – find out what is needed in your own community to address poverty, unequal education, domestic violence, and all the plagues that would destroy. Don’t just look away from the white separatists and anarchists who would turn us against each other. Live your truth right in front of them. Speak up, step up, and do the work. Most importantly, don’t just lament your white privilege (or lack of it) – live your life in a way that will tip the scales of Maat back to balance, for all of us.
Finally, I want to quote Michelle Obama, a very wise woman, who tweeted yesterday: “It’s up to all of us—Black, white, everyone—no matter how well-meaning we think we might be, to do the honest, uncomfortable work of rooting it out. It starts with self-examination and listening to those whose lives are different from our own.
“It ends with justice, compassion, and empathy that manifests in our lives and on our streets. I pray we all have the strength for that journey, just as I pray for the souls and the families of those who were taken from us.”
My prayer as well, may it be so.