Today, there is more than enough of the things that we all need to survive and thrive, and yet millions of us suffer every day from a lack of food, medicine, shelter, and clean water. Life is being profoundly devalued. These conditions represent a systemic crisis in the ways that we produce and distribute the material needs of life. They are also a violation of our deepest moral and religious beliefs, which hold life to be sacred and require us to care for each other, especially those in need.
On September 12th, at 31 different state capitols across the US, people struggling for dignity, safety, and survival gathered with clergy and the many others who share a vision of a better world. Together, we sang, prayed, and delivered the “Higher Ground Moral Declaration.” This nationally coordinated day of action was part of the ongoing effort of Repairers of the Breach, (an organization led by Rev. Dr. William Barber, II) and others to connect and strengthen a growing movement of people who are actively opposing the extremist politics and policies that divide and inflict senseless suffering on so many of our communities.
The acts of gathering at state capitols and delivering this document were a symbolic and unified demonstration of our rejection of the systems and laws that mistreat, degrade, and destroy human life. They were an affirmation of the principles that the US is founded on – the belief that all humans are created with the same rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness — and the beliefs that are at the core of our world’s religious traditions – to care for the needy, the sick, and the marginalized.
Many of us from the Kairos Center rode on a bus to Albany to participate in the National Day of Action, and we will continue to actively support the efforts of Repairers of the Breach to help build a moral movement. We understand these efforts to be vital expressions of the call for a new Poor People’s Campaign (http://poorpeoplescampaign.org/) and of the broader movement to end poverty.
Worsening conditions and growing resistance have stirred a powerful spirit of struggle and hope in our times. This spirit is helping to provoke a “revolution of values,” which Martin Luther King Jr. saw the need for and called for some 50 years ago and which is needed today more than ever in order to resist and reject an the forces that continue to degrade and take life.
At the Kairos Center we believe that the shape and light of this “revolution of values” is emerging through the suffering and resistance of people in many hidden and unexpected places around the nation and the world: those living in encampments or without permanent housing in rural Gray’s Harbor, Washington; the 65 million workers in the US fighting against poverty wages; the communities in the Gulf Coast whose lives and livelihoods have been decimated by industrial and environmental disaster; the people of Detroit and Flint, Michigan whose drinking water has been cut off or poisoned; the black and brown communities across our nation’s towns and cities who face disproportionate death, poverty, and incarceration from the violence of racism; and from the many more communities of struggle whose suffering, fight, and insight are leading all of us to a new awareness of what we have become and what we can still hope to be.
September 12th was an important opportunity to share this light of how things could be and to strengthen the bonds of the growing force needed to realize that hope. We’re looking forward to continuing this work with Repairers of the Breach and the many others around the country and the world who share this vision.