Monday, January 21, 2008

King Day

King Day, 2008, falls in a season of hope and peace and dreams that are profoundly American – and a season of sadness and anger that we still live so far from the realization of those dreams.
Yesterday I gathered with a small group of hardy souls to continue our monthly witness for peace at Lafayette Park, across Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House. It was cold – 18 degrees – and as we sang “We Shall Overcome” our breath hung as frost in the January air.
As I walked to the park across the closed portion of roadway directly in front of the White House, I was struck again by a deep sense of gratitude for living in a country where one can gather in front of the elected executive’s home and lift a voice of protest. Listening this afternoon to a song that mentions Tiananmen Square reminds me of the privilege of living in a country that still has space for speaking truth to power -- and of the responsibility for doing so.
Oh, to be sure, I am just as cynical as any about the nature of this particular executive’s use and abuse of power, and I am deeply angry and saddened by the atmosphere of fear and paranoid security that surrounds my home city. As our witness moved toward its conclusion last evening I was summoned to speak with one of the guards because I held the permit for the witness. I sent back word that I’d respond when Fr. Joe Nangle was through praying. Joe prayed long enough that the officer had moved on to someone else, and I headed off into the night un-accosted – still full of the mix of hope and anger, sadness and dreams, and imagining a future otherwise.

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