Welcome, fellow hustlers of justice, to my inaugural blog as Reverend At-Large!
I fussed over the right title for this blog. The Justice Hustler? Hustler of Justice? Hustler brings to mind porn or pool shark, and sounds too much like “Huckster.” I like Justice Hustle because it brings to mind that cheery 70s song, “Do the Hustle!” Doot, doot, doot, do doot do doot doot doot!
Is Hustle really the right word? It is, because, hustling is what unites us as hard-working Americans (even when we’re not working, we are then hustling for the next gig, temp job, contract, crumb). And my new career as non-parish minister can basically be summed up at hustling for justice. Hustling is a noble enterprise, because half of hustling involves simply showing up and slowly building relationships – showing up to city council, interfaith and coalition meetings, to gatherings of grass-roots community initiatives. When we show up, we engender trust that we care and that we believe, together, we can make a difference – step by step by step.
And then there’s all the extra-curricular hustling – educating myself by going to a symposium or speaking event. Not only do I learn things and meet amazing people but also network like a maniac – which is hustling.
As a parish minister, my job involved a lot of hustling – hustling to sell the idea that we should care about the poor (who are very much like the un-poor), the ignored, the disenfranchised, the immigrant, the “loneliest who gather in their stalls.” Hustling to get people to show up, and of course, hustling for the almighty dollar. As a Rev. At-Large, my job description won’t change much, except now I can talk candidate politics.
A lot of people say they will move to Canada if Trump gets elected. I keep hearing, “I’m depressed about Trump.” Or it’s vitriol. But it’s vitriol Trump loves – he feeds off it, so let’s move on.
If you want to be angry about Trump, be angry at ourselves – we, the people, who have not prevented the conditions for making Trump electable. For allowing our uneven public education to let so many people down they are furious about being left behind. For leaving behind the poor, for only caring if me and mine are “middle class” – whatever that means anymore.
Whether or not Trump gets elected, the conditions that make him electable need to change regardless. So who’s going to wait until we know who’s our next president and who’s going to start today? We can all hustle for justice, no matter who is president. Local municipal activism will likely remain the most effective way to change America, and we should ride the wave of progressive activism that the Bernie campaign set in motion.
Whether it’s Hilary or Bernie who cinches the nomination (it ain’t over til it’s over), we will need to wade into the “marshy terrain of movement-building”, as Peter Dreier puts it. Marshes are beautiful and exciting places, full of life and potential. If we progressives build a strong boat together, we can path-find our way to new policies and protections for the most vulnerable among us. We can change laws that change lives.
So, I hope you’ll join me on this journey. Blogs will be published Tuesdays and Fridays. Until next time, Do the Hustle!
– Rev. At-Large, aka Rev. Hannah Hustlin’ Hope! Petrie