Like so many, especially in the south, her voice came out of singing in a church choir. Her father recognized talent and cultivated it. News stories spoke of the insistent but apparently gentle power she wielded over other musicians and artists during recording sessions and concerts. Invariably, they admitted that whatever she suggested was better than what they had planned. Her musical talents were extraordinary.
Some didn’t actually “get” the significance of what was lost when she died. Some had long ago missed the messages in her songs about freedom, respect and dignity. Some couldn’t grasp her healing voice and the work it had played during the years to revive those who had been knocked down and who some hoped would not stand back up.
The last 22 or so months have been so difficult for so many of us. We struggle to find ways to express ourselves and interact with others who have not felt any negative impact on who they are, their source of income, how they express their gender/identity, the color of their skin or their nation of origin. People have apparently been given some "permission" to say things they would not have said two years ago.
The Attorney General of the United States remarks that the number of foreign born in this country is getting to be too high. It doesn’t take much thought and little imagination to interpret that to mean that there are too many people here with black or brown skin, i.e., not white... like him (and me). Add that to the string of statements made about ridding the military of trans folks, homosexuals, and those living with HIV. Even while a diversion is created in one area, underhanded actions against so many take place in relative secrecy.
Yet... so many still do nothing. It is only necessary for good people to do nothing for evil to triumph. We live in times of evil actions. Dare I say we live in evil times?
I wonder how much money do some folks feel they absolutely have to have? 40 million dollars? A billion dollars? Do I hear a trillion? Jesus told the rich young ruler to sell all he had and join Jesus’ ministry. The young man walked away. He couldn’t do it. He couldn’t sell all he had.
How "white" do we need to remain as a nation to satisfy some folks concerns? Jesus was an ethnic Jew from the Middle East most likely with dark brown eyes and black hair. It just isn’t accurate to depict Jesus as a blue-eyed blond haired dude to meet the comfort level of some who still have issues with skin that isn’t white.
What level of abuse of women is considered "acceptable"? Are suggestive jokes to be tolerated? Is unequal pay for the same work simply the way it has to be? Must a woman be expected to just "deal" with gropes and leers in order to keep her job? The list is much longer of what some expect others to tolerate regardless of the consequences.
What limits do some want to place on the human and civil rights of queer folk? Where can we live? Where can we serve our nation? To what professions are we restricted? What are grounds for putting us in detention camps?
Where are those who truly follow Jesus Christ? Sure, we can hold rallies and marches that attract hundreds of thousands all across the country. Where are the others, the other millions who either do not care or do not have the guts to speak out.
I’ve grown weary of others telling me that I have to suck it up if they want to allow their religious beliefs and practices to discriminate against me due to my sexual orientation. It’s not religion. It’s bigotry and prejudice.
We still have a voice my kindred in Christ. We STILL have a voice. Elections are going on right now, leading up to November. So tell me, when did you last challenge the bigoted stance of a candidate running in your area? When did you stand up at a town hall meeting and ask a direct and pointed question? When did you last pick up the telephone, type a text or email or write a plain ordinary letter expressing your views?
If we do nothing we deserve what happens to us. We follow one who sought justice for all. It cost him his life. Is the cost of a call, a text, an email or a postage stamp too great for our freedom? Time will tell. Time will indeed tell.
The Queen sang “Amazing Grace.” What will our song be? One of triumph or a pitiful whine?
Please continue to offer prayers for healing and recovery for our Presiding Bishop as he rests and recuperates from prostate cancer surgery.
Bruce Garner, President
Integrity USA: The Episcopal Rainbow