Amen! To the “Beautiful Struggle”

I’ve heard a lot of people in my life comment that they “just aren’t paying attention to the talking heads for a while” or that they “just can’t listen to a thing that man [President-elect Trump) says.”

I am the opposite. I have the radio going most of the time during the day, and still worship Warren Olney on KCRW’s To the Point and hope the man never retires, much like I hope Ruth Bader Ginsburg lives lucidly-enough  . . . forever. Amy Goodman’s Democracy Now is another of my favorites, along with The Ralph Nader Hour on Pacifica, PRI’s Marketplace and The World, and KCRW’s Left, Right, and Center. I read the articles that other people like me who want to know everything they can send to me. I am keeping my ear to the ground as much as possible.

My heart aches for the civilians of Aleppo slaughtered by an evil triumvirate (Iran, Russia, Syria) we might as well start referring to as the Axis powers. Trump’s new foreign policy can kiss my ass – I will never accept Russia as our friend so long as Putin is in power. My mind aches for the people of Standing Rock who, despite a temporary victory, face an uphill battle, and for the residents of Flint, MI who see no safe drinking water via their pipes in sight. My soul aches for the people of South Sudan – where the vast majority of women in the refugee camps are routinely raped and made to watch other women being raped. All these things represent seismic shifts in the magnitude of their inhumanity.

Do not look away, for this is the world we share.

It’s no time to tune out, but we can be forgiven for allowing some holiday respite here and there. I am working to be generous, giving or pledging money to worthy institutions who see building relationships as the first thing to do as well as the last resort.

One fledgling organization I’m proud to be associated with and supplying seed money to is POP, Pasadenans Organizing for Progress. We have raised about 25K so far toward our 100K goal in order to hire a full-time, experienced community organizer. We are the same coalition of activists, professors, clergy, labor organizers, and attorneys who got Pasadena to pass the increasing minimum wage ordinance to reach $15 by 2020. Our organizer will be very busy when we bring her or him aboard, as we work to enforce the ordinance, make sure the undocumented know their rights in the near-term, uncertain future, and organize tenants. Further, we aim to reign in unjust policing, advocate for public education, and enfranchise those who lack a say in many basic areas of their lives.

So many are asking, “what can I do?” in this grave new world?  You can give to POP. POP will be supporting NDLON’s monthly POPular Assemblies in which the undocumented and fully franchised may combine their talents and meet to hear the latest strategies of how we together can counter the fear that ICE and imminent deportation induces in the community – a date in January will be announced soon. POP will also be building relationships between black and brown people, so that they may help one another in their common struggle to counter the penchant to incarcerate people of color.

Florence Annang, a black woman from Ghana, has been attending our organizing meetings and shared some inspirational thoughts with me recently that I’d like to share with you. Florence is a member of the Pasadena Chapter of the NAACP and spoke of the “beautiful struggle” we will undertake during the next four years.

What is the beautiful struggle? It is this: no matter how bad things get, one thing that cannot be prevented from happening, that cannot ever be taken away from us, is the beautiful struggle to love our neighbor and build friendships of solidarity. Florence is especially interested in seeing this happen between Latinos and African Americans, block by block in Pasadena. If the police are raiding a Latino home, someone in that home might call their African American friend in the same neighborhood and vise versa. Slowly the dots will be connected, relationship by relationship, until the targeted of the war on drugs, the war on immigrants, and the war on terror work together in a unified front of resistance.  The powers that be want these groups to disregard one another, the ages-old divide and conquer m.o. – but we at POP understand their potential power.

“What can you do?” If you are white and/or documented and middle-class you can support the facilitation of the forming of these relationships and our organizing work. The minimum wage effort succeeded because brown and white people worked together to create a formidable force that could not be brushed aside by our electeds. Imagine how powerful this organizing body can become if African Americans and Muslims enter the scene. Florence says that “to reveal a love daily that makes no sense is the beautiful struggle.” It may make no sense at first to form the unlikely friendships between black and brown, Jewish and gentile, rich and poor, undocumented and documented, Christian and Muslim, but that is indeed the very beauty Florence speaks of. What doesn’t make sense on the surface can quickly become lovely and enduring, especially as we as a whole community begin to see the fruits such powerful relationships bear in the struggle for a more just and peaceful world.

Together we will not normalize intolerance, ignorance, and hatred. Only together can we effectively counter incarceration nation. Only together can we prevent America calcifying into a feudal class structure. “What can you do?” If you’re a member of the shrinking middle class who participates in the social and political theater of noble Pasadena (you need not live in Pasadena to support efforts to make Pasadena a beacon of exemplary hope for the rest of the country), then join this effort. Giving at least $100 per month ensures that our full-time organizer can be hired sooner than later. That is what I’m doing – but any gift helps us reach our goal.

Join this beautiful struggle – a struggle, in Florence’s words, “to reveal Christ daily.” If Christ language isn’t your bag, translate: to realize our human potential daily in building bridges of resilience and power for inclusion, caring, and fairness for all. True, “to reveal Christ daily” is more succinct. So how about this: Don’t be Christian, be Christ. Don’t be Buddhist, be Buddha. Don’t reference MLK, be MLK. Now is the time to reveal our true prophets – in our own actions, in our own words, in our own friendships.

Happy Justice-Hustlin’ Holidays!

Rest well, for 2017 is going to be one beautiful bitch of a struggle.

– Rev. At-Large, aka Hannah Hustlin’ the Hope Petrie

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