This past Saturday, our Rev. Dr. Maria Cristina Vlassidis Burgoa shared her vision of social justice at a Poor People’s Hearing in Oakland, California. WE are the ones we’ve been waiting for!
Poor People’s Campaign, April 2019
Rev. Dr. Maria Cristina Vlassidis Burgoa
In my tradition before we say our own names we honor our ancestors by invoking their names: I am the great grandaughter of Dominga, the grandaughter of Rosario, the daughter of Lily, my name is Maria Cristina Vlassidis Burgoa. I was going to begin my remarks by quoting the prophet Isaiah, but as a queer/Two Spirit Unitarian indigenous Universalist Minister, I decided on another prophet and theologian closer to my own experience: Audre Lorde.
“I have come to believe over and over again that what is most important to me must be spoken, made verbal and shared, even at the risk of having it bruised or misunderstood… we all hurt in so many different ways, all the time, and pain will either change or end…I began to recognize a source of power within myself that comes from the knoweldge that while it is most desirable not to be afraid, learning to put fear into a persepective gave me great strength…My silences have not protected me. Your silence will not protect you…within the war we are waging with the forces of death, subtle and otherwise, concious or not-I am not only a casualty, I am also a Warrior. What are the words you do not yet have? What do you need to say? What are the tyrannies you swallow day by day…? Each of us is here now because in one way or another we share a commitment to language and to the power of language and to the reclaiming of that language which has been made to work against us…In the transformation of silence into language and action, it is vitally necessary for each one of us to establish and examine our function in that transformation and to recognize our role as vital within that transformation… scrutinize the truth of what we speak, share and spread the words that are meaningful to us, teach by living and speaking those truths…”
Water/Agua, Shelter/Techo, Accessibility/Accesibilidad, Justice/Justicia, Freedom/Libertad
Equality/Igualdad, Peace/Paz, Compassion/Compasion, Resistance/Resistencia, Love/Amor
They say this is the richest country in the world, and yet we see a country in ruins. They say here there is a constitution which protects people and yet we see how the rich trample on its spirit and chisel away at its bones. They say here you can achieve the American dream and yet we are living a nightmare. In this country and in this State people are dying of hunger, people have been forced to make the hard cold pavement their home for years, people at the border are being greeted with tear gas, machine guns, cages for children and infants who are separated from their parents, where they are abused and where they are dying. Today the people, the afflicted, the hungry, the imprisoned, echo the prophets throughout the ages in every religion and the people with and without religious affilliations or beliefs, shout out a call demanding justice, righteousness and the dignity of all, in the form of clean and accessible water, healthcare, peace and freedom from militarism, and an end to mass incarceration of people of color.
Fifty years ago, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and many others called for a “revolution of values” in America, an end to militarism, racism, and economic injustice—to insist that people need not die from poverty in the richest nation ever to exist.
FIfty years later, we are in worse shape, including ecological devastation. FIfty years later, this nation is more divided than ever. The breach between rich and poor is geting wider and wider, racism is becoming blatant and the forces of evil are getting away with murder, emboldened, openly in daylight, every single day. We who live at the margins, we LGBTQ2, queer youth, we unemployed and underpayed, veterans, immigrants, indigenous peoples, people of color, are living a nightmare, are living in the jagged edges of the breach, are feeling the impact of being treated as disposable objects for the profit of the few. This is immoral. This is tantamount to a death sentence for entire communities, a sentence which will be inherited by the next generations.
And yet, and yet… we DO have good news…today more and more communities are rising up and recognizing this is not the America of our dreams, this is not the great nation that it could be, the people are demanding freedom, libertad! The people are rejecting immorality in the form of poverty, mass incarceration, militarization, ecological devastation, and egregiously inhumane immigration policies. The people are rising up and denouncing this immoral government’s fake state of emergency and pointing to the real emergency which is subjecting the most vulnerable human beings to cruel and unusual punishment.
The people are echoing the ancient Prophet Isaiah and pointing towards the White House and those who claim to be our leaders, the people are rejecting and denouncing those spouting hatred and caging little children and the people are answering YES to the call of Isaiah to:“Remove the yoke from among you, the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil, if you offer your food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted, then your light shall rise in the darkness… Your ancient ruin shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of the streets to live in. (Isaiah 58)
We the people are the rapairers of the breach, WE the people are rising up like the waters, we the hungry are rising up, we the thirsty for clean and accessible water are rising up, and turning the tides, we the grieving masses are rising up, we the labeled illegal and aliens are rising up, and we say enough. Basta! We who believe in freedom cannot rest. We who believe in freedom will not rest until it comes. And we cannot wait for it to just come along. No, we have to make it happen. And WE are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We have a job to do people, a breach to repair, a day of reckoning right here right now not in the afterlife, we are living in the war years and we have a revolution of love, justice and mercy to ignite, we have a nation to heal. Come build a new America released from captivity, a new America so rich its jails are empty, its schools and hospitals free for everyone, its streets for dancing not for families to perish on, its oceans and rivers abundant with life, its halls of justice places of dignity and honor of the inherent worth of every human being, its land without walls, once again sacred and cared for. Come build a nation where justice shall roll down like waters and peace like an ever flowing stream.
Let’s do it! Si se puede!