Is This Our Selma?

Some late-night musings and meandering thoughts...

A blog post from Rev. Kim Crawford Harvie at Standing on the Side of Love yesterday says, "Immigration reform is our Selma."  I read this and think it means that I should go to this event that SSL and others are promoting now, a march in Phoenix on May 29.  In 1965, you see, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., put out a call asking UU clergy to come to Selma, saying, "The people of Selma will struggle on for the soul of the nation but it is fitting that all Americans help to bear the burden. I call therefore on clergy of all faiths to join me in Selma."  Many did, including the Rev. James Reeb. We are now, the next SSL post says, "Called to Arizona" to march along with our UUA president, Rev. Peter Morales.

Last year, the Human Rights Campaign put out a "clergy call" asking clergy to come to Washington D.C., and I went.  I felt a bit like this was our Selma.  Certainly civil rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people is an important civil rights issue in our day.  I planned that trip on pretty short notice, and got some funds from our local PFLAG group and from the UUA to help with the trip. 

So I'm feeling pretty guilty about not packing up and heading to Phoenix right now.  Will I hang my head in shame in years to come, knowing I missed the Selma of our time?  Perhaps.

On the other hand, I wonder if it really is our Selma.  Immigration Reform has not been an issue that I've seen as the biggest issue of our time.  Is that because I've been comfortable up here in the Midwest, where we don't notice it as much?  Is it because I live comfortably in a cultural enclave?  Is it because it doesn't touch me personally?  These are the questions I challenge myself with, as I remind myself that just because it doesn't touch me doesn't mean I shouldn't get involved.  Of course, LGBT issues don't personally touch me, either, and yet I've been very motivated on them, writing, preaching, marching, and lobbying regularly on them.

Clearly immigration reform is a major issue.  And while it may or may not be the most important issue of our time, it is a major justice issue.  My denomination is telling me that this is a really big issue--one of the two big issues, the other being LGBT issues--just by creating SSL focused on this issue particularly.  Our study-action issues and other social justice statements reflect this.  Perhaps it is, indeed, the Selma of our time, and I have not been paying enough attention.  I need to educate myself more, and I need to get more motivated politically on this issue.  Basically, I need to get more motivated on immigration reform. 

I probably will miss this, even if this is our Selma.  I'm not scheduled to preach on May 30, but I checked airfare prices today, and it would be over $400 for the flight alone.  Michigan isn't exactly next door to Arizona.  That would be money out of my pocket, because my remaining professional expenses are over-committed already.  I almost put in a bid on Priceline for a cheaper flight anyway, just to see if I would get it, but at the last moment I backed out--I think I was afraid I would, and it wouldn't be an easy trip for me. 

So, when my child asks me, "Where were you on that day?" in ten or twenty years, I hope I can tell her that even though I wasn't there that I was trying to do something about this issue.  I hope I'll learn that we're doing something here locally, or if not that I'll start something.  I don't want to have heard the call and have turned a deaf ear.  


Scott Wells said…
I went to read the "Standing on the Side of Love" blog post, expecting a manifesto or rallying-cry, and got little more than melodrama and hyperbole.

The urgency is sudden, and for us, invented. The tactics are stunningly old-fashioned and self-serving. In short who invited us and why? Note the use "our Selma" -- not "their struggle".

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