This morning the sky was luminescent, pink at the edges and the air was warm. This morning the out of doors sounded like a jungle, or like some soundtrack of birds, so joyous was the celebration in the trees as the sun rose. We stood in line outside a Baptist church with many others, waited for the doors to be unlocked, smiled through the initial confusion, and then I, #8, cast a ballot.
This is how we do things, we vote in safety, we line up as the sun rises. And all those people, smiling and clutching coffee mugs, they gave me hope.
The stakes are high, the water is wide —
It’s been a long time since there’s been a public lynching, where white folks stood and watched while a black person was hung from a tree, as they cheered and picnicked in the tall grass. It’s been a long time since we rounded up Japanese Americans and interred them, taking their homes and their livelihoods, believing that surrendering to our fear would keep us safe.
But is hasn’t been very long since Ferguson, not very long since Freddie Gray. It hasn’t been very long since a person with terrible hair talked about how he would build a wall and make Mexico pay for it, how we should ban all Muslim refugees. It was only a few minutes ago that the rhetoric of hate and fear was broadcast yet again over the galaxy.
I heard a story this morning on the news, sitting half awake in the car while Husband went into Meijer for coffee and other sundries. It was about how Syria used to be a country of 22 million and how half that number is gone. Half that number is walking dusty roads, braving the wild and cold sea without a life jacket, holding onto the hope that somewhere is safe. But the borders are closing, and these great billowing tents are popping up full of women who have suddenly become the head of household and don’t know what to do next, who cannot even begin to count the miles to safety or the tears their children have cried.
And I told my husband this (and was irritated at the sudden tears, but he didn’t hear the children crying in the story, he didn’t hear how the woman said she woke up one day and decided she would have to be BRAVE), and he said, how come no one is helping? They are helping, small groups of Resistance workers are on the ground, they are doing all they can.
They are doing all they can in the face of a nation that would rather see what Donnie tweets next, a nation that is more concerned about their 401ks, a nation that is spending MILLIONS OF DOLLARS on TV commercials that will somehow decide who leads this nation next.
The tent is full of small children and babies, full of old mothers in law and fathers who can only walk a few miles a day. The tent is not full of food, not full of cash, not full of blankets or other comforts.
This is a journey of a thousand years.
We don’t usually show up to vote, as a country we suck at this. We love to sit around and bitch about who is making what laws and to pretend that two women getting married somehow threatens our own marriage, to pretend that if people have healthcare or a job that pays a decent wage or food to give their children, that this somehow costs us something. But we don’t put our money where our mouths are.
Today is the day.
Today is the day to show up, the ballot is really easy, I promise. You can find out where your polling station is here. All you need is an ID and a few minutes.
Do you remember, in The Return of the King, how the entire world was at war? Do you remember the terrible hordes of flesh eating soldiers that swarmed over the earth, pillaging and killing, raised on violence and hatred? Do you remember those sheltering at Helms Deep, the trolls and the elves, the men? How there was a promise that at dawn, on the fifth day, help would come?
Help is not coming.
The sun will not rise and show us the glorious and majestic train of soldiers led by a man with a long white beard who will turn the tide.
No one is coming to help us, because the work that we are called to is to help each other. We must save each other, and in saving each other we are transformed.
In saving each other WE ARE SAVED.
Our oldest daughter is learning about the Holocaust. You can be darn sure she isn’t learning about what we did to Japanese citizens, and she isn’t learning about the Resistance. She is learning that a man with a strange mustache interred and killed people only because of who they were, because of their religion, because of what they looked like. She is learning that the biggest boot wins, that is the one that can squash an entire nation and hold it down. She is learning that she would have been safe, blonde, tall and strong – Christian.
You can be damn sure I am filling in the gaps.
No matter who wins – our job does not change.
We are the Resistance.
We are the underground network smuggling people to safety through messages sewn into quilts, we are the people passing notes in the street. We are the people stealing through the fields at dawn, our shoes wet with dew, putting people into boats that will carry them to safety, sheltering families in hidden rooms. We are all joined together, this great allegory of trolls and elves and men, fighting the tide of evil that is rushing down at us.
Because no one is coming, because dawn will not brilliantly show to us that saving army, because God is not coming back to fix what is broken in this world.
We are of God, baptized into Christ, sealed and marked as his own. We are the ones who vowed to respect the dignity of every person, the ones called to stand up and to fight. Even if that fighting is done silently and in the dark.
We cannot allow the person who is in charge to set an agenda that leaves people out, an agenda that sentences children to die packed into the backs of human smuggling trucks at the Texas border, one that leaves great billowing tents in the desert, full of women and children with nowhere to go while the roads and the borders are closed to them.
I’m not good at sewing, so will need someone to stitch messages into the quilts we will hang on the rails of our front porches in Main Street, America. We will need food for the hungry, clothing for the naked. We will need to give each other hope.
No one is coming.
We must Resist.
“The mist had cleared, the first stars glittered like metal, and wailing voices could still be heard from the village. Then a thought as presumptuous as spiritual pride itself blotted out the angel’s dark warning and caused Mary’s head to spin. Suppose her son’s salvation was a sign from God, for surely the child’s escape from a cruel death must mean something when so many others who perished could nothing but wait for the opportunity to ask God himself, why did you kill us, and be satisfied with whatever reply He might choose to give. Mary’s delirium soon passed, and the thought occurred to her that she too could be holding a dead child like all those other mothers in Bethlehem, and she shed a flood of tears for the welfare and salvation of her soul… she was crying now with the other women, all of them seated in a circle with their children in their laps, awaiting resurrection.”
The Gospel According to Jesus Christ, by Jose Saramago; after the slaughter of the Holy Innocents