The following is the text from my presentation at the Lights for Liberty vigil in Nashville, TN on Friday, July 12, 2019.
As we’ve watched the news cycles these past weeks, I, like many of you, have felt helpless in the face of abject cruelty and evil. These past few years in particular have been hard on each and every person here in various ways; I know I’ve been worn down, and exhausted, and feeling helpless in the face of this wave of darkness that has reached an apex since 2016.
But this darkness didn’t burst into being in 2016, it’s been here, since the foundation of our country, sometimes in big and obvious ways, but more recently, lurking in corners and beneath the surface, trying to hide from our sight, from the sight of white voters anyway, to push an agenda of racism and xenophobia into every aspect of our government. Crises like this one are the fruit of these day-to-day abuses.
And I’m sure I’m “preaching to the choir,” because here you all are, on a Friday night, standing up to be counted and to say to this administration “not on our watch!” “Not in our time!” And I hope that there is a huge turnout tonight across this nation to say to the powers as we look in their face and say, “no!” We say, “never again!”
I want to be part of a country that is a light to other nations, a country that opens its arms and welcomes the stranger, the immigrant, the poor, the oppressed. I want us to be a nation built on hope, and not fear. I want us to be a nation that operates out of a sense of abundance and not scarcity.
I want all of us tonight to move through our sorrow and frustration, and to take these torches up, to light the fire in our weary hearts and go out into our communities and call people into a vision of a country built on hope and abundance. Greatness does not come from fear. Governments that rise to power preaching fear of the other are toppled by those who believe that fear cannot and will not rule us.
And I still believe that if we go back to our communities and call our neighbors into a vision of hope and abundance that we can start to shift the conversation, shift the mindsets, gradually calling people to walk along with us into the nation that we want to be–a nation that truly is committed to liberty for all, justice for all, and where all can breathe the air of freedom, which first and foremost must mean freedom from fear, freedom from hatred, freedom from violence. And those are freedoms worth fighting for, a vision worth fighting for, and a country that all of us would love to live in.
Everyday resistance, lots of acts of resistance by everyday people, of various sizes all add up like many small streams coming together to be a mighty flood. Some of us got our feet wet at the first women’s march. Some of us have been marching for something since the 1960’s or so. The first time you come out to something like this requires a little extra bravery, so thank you all for showing up to be counted! Let’s keep going out and finding the brave thing to do this week, next week. Let us all commit to showing up, standing up, and speaking up from here to the voting boxes and the very doors of the detention centers until we have set these people free and made new laws and new policies that ensure this truly never ever happens again!