So here we are in August, in the dog days. Usually I would be deeply involved in gathering of family and friends celebrating almost any occasion we could have thought of, camping, fishing, walking Natty the dog all over the place, dinners and lunches in the gastronomic wonderland of Asheville, and especially walking in the National Forests. But this is a year unlike any other we have faced in most of our lifetimes.
Most of us have been shut in since April or before, isolating, waiting for the return of something approaching the old normal, waiting for that magic elixir from the labs of hard-working scientists, hoping to hold onto hope. For those of us with extra health concerns, or like myself with my newly-minted knee, we are restricted even further, as any trip into the unknown could lead to the virus and worse health issues.
But in our time of isolation the world has not stood still. It has ferociously moved along. Great events have happened while we have been observing through our windows and from our porches. A lucky few of us are able to selectively engage in these events in person, and the rest of us try as best we can to Zoom our way into participation–even for worship.
But the world IS changed and hopefully we are about to walk through the doorway to a new existence. I for one will never be able to forget the image of George Floyd under the knee of the officer as his life ebbs away, and even more seared into my mind are the other images by the bystander videoing the event of the EMS workers arriving and treating George Floyd’s body like a limp side of beef as his body is lifted onto the plastic sheet and gurney. A quote from the past raced into my mind, “Oh, the Humanity of it all” or in this case “Oh, the total lack of humanity of it.”
Now, the evidence of the long history of racism, abuse, and death at the hands of police has once more smacked us in our faces along with the realization that we are headed toward a white supremacy future if we don’t stop it now. We cannot allow it to fade back into the woodwork again.
In response, Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) are in the streets demanding that the country, and even the world, live up to its promises and change to fulfill the aspirations of our America, all are created equal. In general, White people have been there walking alongside, listening and following the voices of the new movements, and not inserting our voices in leadership. Let’s keep it that way.
Then in the midst of this crisis we lose one of the true giants of the decades-long fight for voting and equal rights, and see that historic group of leaders shrink once again. John Lewis will never be replaced, but there will rise in a younger cohort new leadership to walk to the front of the line. We should celebrate that the movement will never die, that we will continue to stand and walk “forward together, not one step back.”
As Unitarian Universalists we are a people who covenant that all people have value and worth and we are once again given the opportunity to live our values. Find a way, in isolation or not, to show your values and support The Black Live Matter movement.
Michael Beech, Board of Trustees