Together we walk a tight rope of opening up economic and community opportunities while keeping people safe. Seeking that tenuous balance, our faith and ethical traditions call forth from us acute attention to those in our communities who always bear the brunt of inequity: People of color, low-wage workers, immigrants with and without documents, those without full access to quality health care, those who suffer with mental illness, those with disabilities, those of the LGBTQ community.
Our congregation, Parkway United Church of Christ, has gathered creative strength by preparing for the Poor People’s Campaign Culture Day of Action on May 20. Our digital letter banner proclaims with other communities across the nation: “Everybody’s Got a Right to Live”. It’s one step in preparations for the Mass Poor People’s Digital Justice Gathering on June 20.
We celebrate all the powerful local initiatives that have popped up to respond to current needs. Coalitions have mobilized to distribute food, deliver meals to home-bound elders, distribute masks, exchange goods and labor, offer tele-therapy and online support groups, address the crisis for our undocumented neighbors, partner with resettled refugees and other immigrants, support those who worry about paying rent or mortgage or fear eviction, provide health care, offer supplies for infants, stand up for worker rights and those who are incarcerated or detained.
Heightened awareness by many of us to the long-standing invisible suffering and structural skewing of resources is worth shared attention. This is not just a time to get through and go back to what was customary. We want to transform our seeing, relating, collaborating, acting. The “new normal” of which we speak means a different way of being community.
We say: Everybody’s got a right to live:
While exercising the right to vote. We rise up to demand full funding of local boards of election to provide safe conditions for this year’s election and to make absentee voting easy and transparent.
While at work. Health, safety, dignity and a voice in decisions is essential, especially for those who offer health care, provide for our food, keep our spaces clean, care for our children, provide for the public good. We know immigrants and people of color have always been disproportionately affected by the danger in the work place. Women and all workers deserve a work place free of sexual assault and harassment.
In daily living. The vigilante shooting of Ahmaud Arbery in Brunswick, Ga., is a reminder of the violent white supremacy culture operative in every community. It’s past time for daily acts of repair.
In accessing health care. Not only is health care for all a moral imperative; it is an economic necessity with so many health care institutions on the brink of bankruptcy and requiring essential employees to be furloughed. This includes quality mental health services and access to support for persons with disabilities.
In the midst of the climate crisis. Those who are economically vulnerable continue to bear the greatest costs of our changing climate in extreme weather events, health disparities, and displacement. Bluer skies and vibrant bird song in these weeks draw us toward restorative strategies of living on the planet.
Everybody’s got a right to live.