Tag Archives: Beyonce

Year of Self Compassion #20 #truthtopower

This week I have been chastised, metaphorically beaten up, listened up and loved up. The thread holding these diverse and sometimes divisive experiences has been that ancient maxim from the Quakers speaking your truth to power. And there are all kinds of power – power of the purse, power of persuasion, power of the big end of town, power of the secrets, power of pretense, power of the system – there is a laundry list of power at play in our lives every single day. I am overwhelmed by some of the powers that are circling in my worlds and this warrior princess is more weary that warrior at the moment.

To tell the truth to power is one thing and then to deal with the consequences is another. I have been thinking about Rosa Parks who said enough was enough and stayed seated. The consequences for her and her community were far reaching and the liberation did not happen straight away. My thoughts have also turned to Charlie Perkins who too hopped on a bus and kept on driving and headed into the centre. And on this Pentecost Sunday my thoughts also go to the pathetic group huddled together in an upper room too scared to go out and speak their truth to power and then were afforded a surge from a higher power to kick them along out into the street to spread their good news. Speaking your truth to power comes at a price and every now and again that price feels too high, and a cup drawn from the well to keep you going is essential. A dear friend brought her cup and cakes around for me yesterday – such a simple act of kindness coupled with her listening ears was a salve.

I watched the royal wedding as I heard The Kingdom of God choir was going to do Stand by Me and I wanted to hear that. This is a hugely political song and one loved by Martin Luther King, it was even inducted into the US Library of Congress for its special place in history – this is no ordinary song choice – it is political. But I was in for a bigger treat with the sermon by the leader of the US Episcopalian Church Rev Michael Curry – the first time this church has had a black leader. His homily about love being the way drawing from slavery, the bible, Martin Luther King and I wondered for a moment if Beyonce was going to get a mention (see Beyonce Mass in Grace Cathedral, San Francisco if you want to know more). This was a truth to power moment in history, with billions watching around the world, Chicago born Rev Curry preached on human rights in the 1,000 year old Windsor Castle, the home of a colonial power who had traded in slaves, built kingdoms and queendoms on the backs of the poor, who pillaged jewels from far off lands, who put generations in servitude on their ancestral lands. He preached about love, which for each of the couple had their own versions of what that meant in their families of origin. (I say Amen. All the people say Amen.)

We all remember the broken-hearted 8 year old who had scrawled “Mummy” on the flowers adorning his mothers coffin. I am a republican and long for Australia to be a republic. I am rarely interested in the royals, but watching this ceremony I was fascinated to see the new world of the USA influencing the old world of Europe with the message of love. Choosing Stand by Me – my favourite song of solidarity – turned it all around. Here were the gospel singers offering up their voices to stand with Windsor – an invitation to come to a new party – one where everyone is equal and well that sounds quite a lot like a new world order or indeed the same gospel being preached from the pulpit! I love these twists and turns, these moments in history when you know something is about to happen. All the signs are there, the foundations have been put in place and the truth to power actions will be louder than the speeches.

I was uplifted by the preacher. I was uplifted by the music. I was uplifted by the actions of a young couple who had found love. Love is always the way. There is no other way but to love and draw deep from the courage that love demands to speak your truth to power. Using the platforms of privilege many of us has a price tag and I felt encouraged and reminded of that last night. Speaking your truth to power will bring collateral damage, sometimes friendly fire, but there is no stopping that justice river roll into town. In this year of self compassion I may have to soften my approach to be more gentle on myself, and go a bit slower to bring others with me, but there is also the truth to be spoken and the power to be challenged. And now that Stand by Me has been sung at Windsor and the grandson of a black slave has preached love is the way there too, I have another well to draw from in those moments I find it hard to dig deep. Thank you Team Markle.

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Let justice flow like a river Photo by Phil Houston on Unsplash

Dancing with Speeches #46 March on Washington

In late August 1963, Martin Luther King led the march on Washington for jobs and freedom and delivered his famous “I have a dream” speech in front of the Lincoln Memorial. His words rang in the ears of a generation: “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. I have a dream today!”  This is a dream that is yet to be fulfilled and now we find ourselves on the brink of another march bringing another generation to a nation’s capital.  Here is a speech that might be heard in January 2017 to introduce a very special contributor.

Thank you for coming today to Washington.  We are living the dream – the dream of Martin Luther King; the dream of women and men, boys and girls throughout history who have stood together shoulder to shoulder, the dream of Maya Angelou to rise up, the dream of women like Geraldine Ferraro and Hillary Clinton to lead our nation, the dreams of all the little girls who have been hugged by their grandmothers and told they can do anything.  These are our dreams and we will not let them go  away for anyone and we will keep working on making them come true.

Thank you to the wonderful Indigo Girls for leading us in song – what a great choice – This Land is Your Land.  Yes it is this is our land and there is no more turning back.  Thank you Mavis Staples for rousing us with We shall overcome and to the amazing southern belles – Beyonce, Dixie Chicks and Dolly Parton – for singing Higher and Higher – because you know how it is …. when they go low … we go high.  There is no movement without music and it is a joy to see so many young musicians and singers taking up the mantle and leading the way for their sisters and brothers.

What are your dreams? I am dreaming for justice, for freedom, for emancipation from fear. I am dreaming for equity.  There is nothing else we can dream for – without equity there is no growth in our economy, no social stability and at worst no hope. We are trading in hope and we are in credit!  We are trading in justice and we are in credit!  We are trading in courage and we are in credit!

We are bound together.  We prosper together.  We grow together – and we liberate each other.  We turn to each other in our moments of grief, in our moments of disappointment and we turn to each other in our moments of success – and success we will have – we will overcome and that day is coming, not just some day, but today and tomorrow and the next day.

With grace, grit and gratitude we will rise.

With courage and humility and tenacity we will rise.

And now join with me to welcome our next next speaker – Michelle Obama.

This Land Is Your Land
Words and Music by Woody Guthrie

This land is your land This land is my land
From California to the New York island;
From the red wood forest to the Gulf Stream waters
This land was made for you and Me.

As I was walking that ribbon of highway,
I saw above me that endless skyway:
I saw below me that golden valley:
This land was made for you and me.

I’ve roamed and rambled and I followed my footsteps
To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts;
And all around me a voice was sounding:
This land was made for you and me.

When the sun came shining, and I was strolling,
And the wheat fields waving and the dust clouds rolling,
As the fog was lifting a voice was chanting:
This land was made for you and me.

As I went walking I saw a sign there
And on the sign it said “No Trespassing.”
But on the other side it didn’t say nothing,
That side was made for you and me.

In the shadow of the steeple I saw my people,
By the relief office I seen my people;
As they stood there hungry, I stood there asking
Is this land made for you and me?

Nobody living can ever stop me,
As I go walking that freedom highway;
Nobody living can ever make me turn back
This land was made for you and me.

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