Kubatana.net ~ an online community of Zimbabwean activists

Passion for justice

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A few weeks ago, I was reminded of a quotation I had first seen some years back. When I looked it up and found it again, I found it as beautiful and as compelling as I had when I’d first seen it.

Love, like truth and beauty, is concrete. Love is not fundamentally a sweet feeling; not, at heart, a matter of sentiment, attachment, or being ‘drawn toward’. Love is active, effective, a matter of making reciprocal and mutually beneficial relation with one’s friends and enemies. Love creates righteousness, or justice, here on earth. To make love is to make justice. As advocates and activists for justice know, loving involves struggle, resistance, risk. People working today on behalf on women, blacks, lesbians and gay men, the aging, the poor in this country and elsewhere know that making justice is not a warm, fuzzy experience. I think also that sexual lovers and good friends know that the most compelling relationships demand hard work, patience, and a willingness to endure tensions and anxiety in creating mutually empowering bonds. For this reason loving involves commitment. We are not automatic lovers of self, others, world, or God. Love does not just happen. We are not love machines, puppets on the strings of a deity called ‘love’. Love is a choice – not simply, or necessarily, a rational choice, but rather a willingness to be present to others without pretense or guile. Love is a conversion to humanity – a willingness to participate with others in the healing of a broken world and broken lives. Love is the choice to experience life as a member of the human family, a partner in the dance of life.
~ Carter Heyward

I was moved enough to do a bit more research on “lesbian feminist Episcopal priest” Carter Heyward. And what I found impressed me.

Among other things, in an interview with OutSmart, Heyward speaks openly about both her sexual and her spiritual journey, her personal history of pushing the envelope in seeking justice, and her commitment to her principles, despite the possible risks.

Heyward was involved in pressuring the Episcopal church to ordain women, over 25 years ago. She explains:

Those of us who planned and implemented the measure have really come to believe that without some kind of force, some kind of radical act, the church was not going to come through on the ordination of women any time soon, maybe not for 10, 20, 30 years. Sue Hiatt, the woman who really was the mastermind behind this thing, said the church would not ordain women until it’s harder not to ordain them than to ordain.

This struck me as a useful reminder for all of us engaged in struggles for social change. It’s sad but true – most of the time this change won’t happen unless and until not changing become more painful, difficult, or untenable than changing. Unfortunately for us in Zimbabwe, the more difficult things become for us here, the more we seem to turn inwards, focused on how to make sure that our families can get by. Maybe instead of rolling over and giving in, as has been our way, it’s time to think about how to make it harder for the regime to carry on along with its stubborn disregard, than it would be for it to change, so that finding a new course becomes the path of least resistance.

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