This blog first appeared on the DailyKos website on 07.31.16
Repairing the Breach
One spring afternoon twenty-five years ago, I was sitting on the front porch of a friend’s house when he told me a “joke” he had heard the previous day:
Joe was working in the hay field when the Lord appeared to him and said,
“Joe, I am going to grant you a wish, any wish that you want. But before you tell me what that request is, I want to tell you that whatever you wish for, I am going to give to your neighbor double that wish.”
Without so much as a moment’s hesitation, Joe declares to the Lord,
“I want to be blind in one eye”.
As I have grown up - mostly Southern, rural, and agrarian - I have repeatedly found that punchline to be profoundly troubling for a constellation of reasons. As many people have observed, the joke’s punchline illuminates a dark side of the American cultural narrative. The implicit argument in the punchline maintains that as long as there is someone in the social hierarchy to look down on, so long as one is capable of assuring there are others in worse shape than you perceive yourself to be, so long as you believe that you are at least holding your own in a zero sum game, then being blind in only one eye is not viewed as a loss, it is touted as a perverse competitive advantage. And by manipulating this “us versus them” mentality, the cynical and opportunistic among us continue to inject fear, greed, and loathing - an unholy trinity to be sure - into the discourse in the public square.
It is to refute, repair, and replace the tenants of this cynical and immoral hijacking of America’s national conversation that the "The Revival: Time for a Moral Revolution of Values" tour has been launched. The tour’s aim is not only to combat these divisive agents but also to identify the guiding principles we should use to chart our way forward in building a society based on a moral revolution of values - values that demand that those guided by faith and moral conscience, “Do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God”(Micah 6:8).
Rev. Blackmon, Rev. Morales, Rev. Barber, and Rev. Forbes marching in Cleveland to the RNC, July 11, 2016
Reverend Barber, Reverend Forbes, Sister Simone, and Reverend Blackmon have chosen seven pillars of testimony on which to build the foundation of the tour in the hope of bringing moral clarity and civic engagement to the discussions in the public square at this time of national foment and consternation. The pillars of discussion and examination address the topics of education, access to health care, immigration, environmental stewardship, voting rights, a living wage, and equal protection under the law for all peoples. The Moral Revival faith leaders equally condemn the rising tide of xenophobia, islamophobia, and demonization of the “other” roiling the country. Subsequent posts will address each of these revival pillars in detail.
How we as one people, one society, and one nation make choices that define our way forward will irrevocably shape how we construct (or destruct) a more perfect union in our beloved communities and country. There is no doubt that to get to a solid footing on which to build a national revival of moral clarity, we must examine squarely the painful and regressive missteps we as a people have made in how we address these issues. As Reverend Barber often observes, “We have a heart problem in this country”, precisely because these moral issues are not addressed solely or even particularly by “governmental policy”. Love, Justice, Mercy, Humility, and Respect are the metrics that we, as citizens, must direct our political leadership to employ in order to discern our course forward together.
“The Revival: Time for a Moral Revolution of Values” Service in Philadelphia, July 25, 2016
"The Revival: Time for a Moral Revolution of Values" is a multi-state initiative led by the Rev. Dr. James Forbes and the Rev. Dr. William Barber. They are joined in some states/locations by the social justice leaders Rev. Dr. Traci Blackmon and Sister Simone Campbell. The purpose of the Moral Revival meetings is to challenge faith leaders and those concerned with social justice to express their opposition to "harmful policies that disproportionately impact the poor, the sick, children, immigrants, communities of color, and minority groups."
A powerful component of the Moral Revival message is the local "witnesses" who give their testimonies of how they have been directly impacted by regressive, cynical, and immoral legislation and practices in their hometowns.