Prepent: 40 daily reminders to change for good and go into a new year, better. read more/subscribe
36 of 40
Oct 1/Tishrei 6
Rev. William Barber, the man who started a social change movement in North Carolina called Moral Mondays, preached in New York City last night, guest of Auburn Seminary and Groundswell and brought the house down. Or rather, up, on our feet.
In that electric style of prophetic preachers he called on us all to stand in the gap of social inequality and rise to the challenge, biblical and contemporary, of saving the soul of society from all of of the ills that keep hijacking it and us away from the true justice and equality and simple honest happiness, for all.
He reminded me why my son loves superheroes so much. It’s not just the violence and fireworks. Deep inside his soul he years for for the battle of the good guys taking on all evil and saving the world on every episode, while looking great in tights.
On Kveller, a Jewish parenting site, Sharrona Pearl wrote a couple of days ago about a conversation at the dollar store that woke her up to the reality of poverty right around the corner and what she needs to know and what she can do about it. Too late for Maria Fernandes, who died tragically this week while taking a nap in her car, in between her three jobs at Dunkin Donuts in NJ just to be able to keep up with the rent. But not late for millions of others struggling with minimum wage. What is my response? our responsibility?
Yom Kippur, just three days away, is about our house cleaning as individuals – and as a public. It isn’t easy for a congregation, community, city, nation or state to come clean and step up to do better for the lives of all, for the health of soil and soul and society and it doesn’t happen overnight but it does happen. And it usually begins with one individual crazy enough, as Rev. Barber is, to step in the gap.
So how will I save the world this coming year? How will you? How will we?
One of those late night strolls through Facebook (still grateful yet growingly suspicious and tired of) stumbled on Mark Manson’s Seven Strange Questions That Help You Find Your Life’s Purpose: A recommended short read. Not exactly just another life hacking list. For question #4 he writes:
“to live a happy and healthy life, we must hold on to values that are greater than our own pleasure or satisfaction.
So pick a problem and start saving the world. There are plenty to choose from. Our screwed up education systems, economic development, domestic violence, mental health care, governmental corruption. Hell, I just saw an article this morning on sex trafficking in the US and it got me all riled up and wishing I could do something. It also ruined my breakfast.
Find a problem you care about and start solving it.”
You may be doing this already, committing time, talent and money to a cause or three that matter to you. Great. Keep it up. How will you upgrade this year? And if not, let’s get going.
For those of you who are joining me at Lab/Shul this coming year – this is a serious agenda I want us to discuss together. The power of one is only as great as the power of many in stepping up to the gap and claiming the prophetic vision of justice for all. In Hebrew this is called Hinenni – Here I am.
Hinneni: Here we go.
One thought to “36 of 40: how are you going to save the world? yes, you. #prepent5775”
Forgive me, but William Barber imho hardly presents suitable material for a role model. There is only one place for a member of the Christian clergy during a criminal case, and that is at the defense table. His conduct during the Duke lacrosse hoax was a disgrace. He should have been acutely aware of the dangers of mob opinion and false accusations. Instead, he (and the NC NAACP) sought to keep the FBI from investigating the case, opposed a change of venue, backed (through Irv Joyner) a racial quota for the jury, and sought a gag order. These exactly reverse the usual NAACP positions in racially-charged cases.
Moreover, Barber’s NAACP showed no interest when Nifong’s prosecution sought to try and convict an immigrant Sudanese cabbie on trumped-up charges, after he refused to change his testimony and lie for Nifong; or when the Durham police department investigated the conduct of only one (black) officer during the case, that of Sgt. Shelton, the sole officer who tried to insist that Mangum (who was well-known to the police) was lying. The cabbie (Elmostafa) was later awarded a national award for resisting Nifong’s pressure, but neither Durham nor the NAACP has recognized this.
Finally, it is a disgrace to the city of Durham, the NAACP, and the Christian church in general, that when the New Black Panthers arrived in town during the case, they were given a warm welcome. Nifong met privately with Malik Zulu Shabazz, then the organization’s head; and the oldest historic black church in Durham opened its doors to a city-wide rally in which Shabazz and another associate were keynote speakers.
I can hardly imagine a Christian church opening its doors to a uniformed nazi; but evidently it was all right for a uniformed Panther (a member of an organization which has called for the extermination of all Jews) to be given the pulpit, from which he reportedly proceeded to make a joke about the Jewish name of one of the lacrosse defendants, and from which his associate proceeded to denounce Jews, Jewish influence, and Zionism. Out of the congregation of civic, civil rights, and religious leaders, apparently no one objected; no one walked out; and no one has since deplored the entire incident.
For that one case Barber’s NAACP reversed everything that organization has fought for, which had the effect of helping a malicious prosecutor in his bid to convict three innocent persons for a crime which never happened. That in itself is enough imho to disqualify him from being a role model to be emulated.
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