You go somewhere you haven’t been before. You raise your hand to make a comment in a room of strangers (or acquaintances [or people you love dearly]) that you know might be off-putting to some. You read a book from a perspective you’ve not encountered before.
These instances might take a person out of their comfort zone. They sometimes do that to me. My pulse races, my brow sweats, my stomach moves. Venturing into uncertain territory makes us vulnerable, puts us at potential risk. Sometimes the stakes are small for us, but our risk might pay off for others.
Tonight, Newland Smith was honored by the Episcopal Peace Fellowship for his tireless activism: anti-racism work, committee and delegate service to the General Convention of the Episcopal Church, and solidarity with Palestinian liberation from Israeli occupation–and he’s done much on all these and other fronts. In his remarks, Newland named those folks who’ve “pushed” him to go further and take the next step in each area of this activist work. And he concluded by saying maybe he’ll work even harder because others will keep pushing him.
Newland’s quiet, insistent own push for peace with justice encourages me to work harder, to sing, whisper, shout, pray for peace and justice. It’s with and through others that we can find ways forward to not just common ground, but better and higher ground. To ground where houses of worship aren’t stormed by terrorists with guns–not a historically black church in Charleston, not a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, not a Unitarian Universalist church in Knoxville. Where Palestinians aren’t subjected to apartheid conditions. Where states don’t kill their own citizens. Where more money is spent to forge human flourishing than plan for warfare.
That ground won’t be forged easily, but if we all keep pushing each other, we can get there. So, thank you, Newland, for pushing the Episcopal Church–for pushing me–to become the change we seek.