The funeral for Congressman John Lewis will take place at 11 am today, July 30, at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. He wrote an article to be published today in which he said, “Ordinary people with extraordinary vision can redeem the soul of America by getting in what I call good trouble, necessary trouble.” I definitely want to be about the work of redeeming the soul of this country, but being called to make trouble is a little edgy and uncomfortable, and I have to admit that it makes me a little nervous to think about causing trouble. Perhaps as nervous as Jeannette was walking into the halls of Congress for the first time. Perhaps as difficult as it was for the young black man in Missoula to tell his story to the Mayor and City Council and to keep re-telling it. And perhaps as uncomfortable as it was for our Fr. Jim Hogan Search for Peace awardee to speak up for justice when his teacher asked him not to wear a shirt with Colin Kaepernick on it. Incidentally Mr. Kaepernick went from a football player to an activist overnight by seeing one bit of trouble that was necessary and stepping into it. So I wonder, what is the the good and necessary trouble that I am called to? Will I recognize it? Will I be able and willing to get over my discomfort and own it? Answering these questions for myself will be my way of honoring the service and sacrifice of Congressman Lewis to make sure the seeds he planted sprout and grow…Betsy
At a time when we all need some good news and some hope in the world, I have some light to share. I’d like to introduce you to three of the young people in our community who are walking the walk to make a difference — three who are living John Lewis’ call to seek out “good trouble”.
- Mica Kantor is a leader in the climate protests in Missoula. Often, he and his mom are the only ones out there. And he shows up for many climate-related marches around the state, including the Sunrise Movement trainings. Even though he is just in the 5th grade, Micah is showing that you can stand for what you believe in by just showing up quietly and persistently week after week.
- Sylvie Aganoti-Tower is a youth leader on EmpowerMT’s Youth Advisory Council and a co-facilitator for their Middle school EPIC group to develop leadership skills. She was an emcee in the community MLK day celebration and is working to create a BIPOC support group to work for racial justice at her school. She is a positive role
model to youth and adults alike seeking to understand others and find common ground through knowledge and validation.
- Asher Barnes is an 8th grader who has been working for justice and peace for many years, quietly standing up for his peers who are ostracized and not afraid of speaking up for his beliefs and what he believes to be right. Viewed as a leader by his peers, he doesn’t shy away from conflict and even stood up to criticism from a teacher for his support of Colin Kaepernick and the BLM movement. He has helped raise money for efforts in this community and around the world because he believes, “If we want the world to change, we have to work for it.” His example is indeed a model for all of us who want the world to change.
These three young people are the finalists in the Fr. Jim Hogan Search For Peace award. We will be honoring them on Wednesday, July 29 at 7:50 pm at the Bonner Park Band Shell, just before the City Band begins to play and one of them will receive the Medallion Award. Thanks to Gary Gillett and the band for giving us this opportunity to bring a positive note to our world. Join Fr. Hogan and I (with a mask and some distance of course) on Wednesday for three examples of the best of Missoula’s youth and the music of our Missoula City Band.
See you there, Betsy
On Thursday July 16 Betsy wrote..
I invite you to join me in the peace park at 9 am this Saturday, July 18, to work on clearing some weeds and adding a fresh layer of white cloth so that “peace” shines through clearer. Bring white scraps of fabric (old sheets, towels, rags or ones you can gather from a thrift store), gloves, water and weeding tools and meet me there. Together let’s make peace more visible…Betsy
Speaking of peace signs in the North hills… We are currently searching for a contractor to help us with a project to put a different peace sign back together! If you are or know of a contractor who might be willing to help bring back some Missoula peace community history email us at email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org or call 406-543-3955.
Equal Rights Amendment: It’s Time
I hope many of you were able to watch the recent PBS American Experience special documentary “The Vote” on the fight to pass the 19th Amendment extending the right to vote to women. While Jeannette Rankin and Montana did not feature prominently in this telling of the story, “The Vote” underscored the incredible struggle and courage of those involved in gaining political rights for women. To paraphrase suffragist Alice Paul after the 19th Amendment became law, this is only the first step toward equality for women.
Alice Paul went on to introduce the ERA amendment in 1923.
“Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the
United States or by any state on account of sex.”
Nearly fifty years after it was first introduced, the ERA finally passed the House and Senate with the required two-thirds majority in 1972. The amendment was then sent for ratification to the states, but only 35 of the 38 states needed had ratified it by the time the Congressionally imposed deadline of 1982 expired. Continue reading
Time to Commit to DOING and BEING Better…
Like many of you, I have been learning to sit with discomfort. My heart is cracked open as I hear my BIPOC neighbors tell me stories of what it is like to live in black and brown bodies — stories that until now I have had the privilege to ignore. Hearing them is uncomfortable. But having to live them is unconscionable. So the least I can do is open myself to the discomfort, sit with it and let it teach me.
A few weeks ago, we mentioned our desire to start a book or discussion group and several of you expressed interest. It is important for there to be a space for us as white people to do the work of becoming anti-racist. This group can be an important start to that work. We are targeting early August to begin and will likely do so via zoom at least initially. Meanwhile we are reading, listening and learning. I encourage you to do the same and I hope you will consider joining us and even inviting a friend. In the words of Winona LaDuke, “there is no social change fairy”! There is only us. The work is messy and uncomfortable but it is what we are called to do. And this, my friends, is the time to say yes because black and brown lives more than matter…Betsy