by Rev. Alan DickenWhen I was in Ferguson, there was a righteous anger that charged the hot August night air with energy. When I was in Charlottesville the day after the protests and the death of Heather Heyer, there was a sadness that hung in the chapel that I was in. There was a desperation that pushed our steps forward when I was on my home streets of Cincinnati. We were taking action in a Jericho March around the courthouse so that the walls of injustice may come tumbling down that we might finally see justice for Sam Dubose, an unarmed black man shot by police.
Each demonstration was a cry for justice, yet none of those experiences felt the same. The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call to Moral Revival – it was something else entirely.
As we stood there on the steps of the statehouse in Columbus, Ohio, there was sense of the righteous anger over racial injustice. Ferguson lit a fire in this country, and we carried that flame with us. There was too, a sense of sadness in the needless deaths of so many who have died due to poverty related causes.
While the anger and sadness stirred in us and around us, I couldn’t detect even the slightest bit of despair. The despair of the other demonstrations that I had been a part of was not present. It had been replaced by hope.
Yes, there was anger. Yes, there was sadness. Yes, the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call to Moral Revival is about making this nation mourn and lament for what it has done and continues to do to the poor. But there was also an electric hope that charges the movement!
We are reacting to systemic racism, poverty, the war economy, and ecological devastation, but there is also a vision that is cast for a new world. It is the Beloved Community, the basileia, the Commonwealth of God here on earth.
We listened to speakers share their stories to a crowd of hundreds. When we did, we heard both the tragic truths of our distorted morality, and the glimmer of possibility in a more just tomorrow. We heard the mournful realities of poverty that affect the lives of millions across this country, and we also heard the drumbeat of a new more faithful future. We heard the deep wounds of the people, and the hopeful sound of marching footsteps heading toward a promised land.
This is just the beginning. The start of the 40 days. The birth of a multi-year, multi-state, multi-faith movement. Now is the time. One marcher is quiet. The hundreds we saw in Columbus made some noise. But if we come together now, we have the chance to walk together so that the sound of all our footsteps may grow and rise up to become an overpowering cacophony of hope and joy and love so that the din of racism, poverty, the war economy, and ecological devastation may never be heard in God’s creation again.