A Weekend in The Arena
On September 7th, President Obama stood in front of the American flag, lighting a spark in all of us to stand up for our democracy.
That same evening, I found myself in the city of brotherly love, feeling nothing but the warmth ignited by the community at The Arena Summit. Coincidence? Maybe. Divine intervention? Definitely.
Over the next two days, fellow SIWMM members and I heard inspiring talks from people working on the inside to change the system that is built to keep us on the outside: a DA working with the Chief Public Defender to create solutions for criminal justice reform; a mother fighting to reduce gun violence after losing her son; a mayor from California piloting guaranteed basic income in the U.S. to help people find bootstraps to pull themselves up by; a healthcare apprentice and a steelworker standing up to strengthen unions in a time when they’re most vulnerable; Women, in all of our glorious forms, and Latinos running for office as first time candidates even when (especially when) people tell them they shouldn’t. It is preached in so many faiths that love and action are intrinsically linked and ineffective when separate. All of the above actions are unmistakably rooted in love: love of our neighbors, love of our humanity, and love for our country.
There is a challenge put before us as we move forward in our action as a group: do we fight fire with fire or do we go high when they go low?
I left the summit feeling like there was a way and a need to do both. Fire can come from a place of love and when it does it can light up our hearts and the community around us. One thing is for sure, we can’t find our way out of this mess in the dark.
I’ll close out these thoughts (and relive an uplifting and only slightly awkward sing-a-long from the weekend) with a line from a well-known song of resistance…
"This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine."