Before I opened my eyes this morning I began my new daily ritual of obsessing over the lost election and the reality of a Trump presidency. It occurred to me that the election was a masterful success for those forces in society that have worked relentlessly for the continued consolidation of wealth and power into the hands of the few. They succeeded in electing a morally bereft figurehead ready to lead the charge of dismantling any government policy that brings relief to the poor and help to the working class. They moved us closer to the elimination of any obligation of the wealthiest to share in the democratic ideal of civil society.
My mind shifted quickly to panic mode, racing to that part of me that knows I am a teaspoon trying to empty the ocean. I paused to wallow awhile in silent whining mode, thinking of all that we did wrong, and all the ways we could have won. I found that space where many of my colleagues are hanging out these days, sitting around opining about ‘what really happened’, cringing at the parade of cartoon villains appointed to cabinet positions, planning a protest to attend, surfing Canadian websites, reposting witty anti-Trump zingers on social media, and praying for a miracle on December 19th.
All the way woke now; the fight in me aroused. On this day in 1925, my late mother, Mertice Jones Duggan, was born. Mertice was a 1952 Howard Law School graduate (yes, an African American woman), who with her fellow students served as volunteer legal staff that did the research, crafted the language and prepared the legal briefs for Thurgood Marshall and the NAACP attorneys that argued and won Brown v. Board of Education in 1954. This at a time when segregation was legal, black people were systemically denied the right to vote, and candidates won elections by proudly proclaiming “I believe in segregation forever”. Compared to the sneeze of post-election 2016, this era for progressivism was a fatal case of pneumonia. And yet my mother and her contemporaries embraced hope. They trod the path of most resistance. They fought impossibly huge battles. They endured losses, violence, and death _both physically and politically. But they fought on. They lost often, but they continued to fight. And when they won, they won big.
I got out of bed and put on my battle gear. I unsheathed my laptop and made ready my provisions for the journey ahead. My words will not be wasted on whining and despair. My sentences will not analyze every moral slight committed by history’s most depraved leader-elect of the free world. I will waste no paragraphs marveling on the racism, reactionary thinking, or the perceived evil intent of a cabinet pick or a Supreme Court candidate. Plenty of others will do that.
I will focus on the role of progressive faith in bringing the fight to the death-dealing, planet –poisoning, poverty-making, divide-and-conquer politicking, coded speechifying forces of the dark side. I will share the good news of the peace and justice-making capacity of faith-controlled assets deployed to advance mission. I will shout out every effort to expand the economy of God, reduce the growth of global poverty and foil the accelerated consolidation of wealth.
The Christian Right’s abandonment of the moral high ground has created an opportunity for an authentic Christian witness; one that embraces Jesus’ personal mission statement in Luke 4:18-19. This renewed public Christianity will work in joyful coalition with Muslims, Jews, people from all religions, and people of good will that follow no religions but share our desire to create a just world for all.
The giant is no longer asleep.
The Reverend Doctor Patrick Garnet Duggan is a native New Yorker, the son of a Jamaican cabinet maker and a New York attorney. He serves as Senior Pastor of the Congregational Church of South Hempstead UCC and Executive Director of the UCC Church Building and Loan Fund. He loves writing, preaching, teaching, helping church leaders with difficult building projects, and talking about how the church can use its resources to change the world. Twitter: @revduggan1