stories of revolution by love of neighbor

I woke up this morning, pretty much like any other day (though, admittedly, I did “snooze” twice). I got out of bed, got my breakfast, showered, then began scrambling through my closet (and, admittedly, for a particular sweater, through my laundry bag) for every purple article of clothing I could find to wear today (with the exception of my purple flip flops; the Bogota weather was too cold and wet today for that). Why, you may ask? Today is GLAAD (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) Spirit Day – a day in which people all over the place deck themselves out in purple in order to speak out against LGBTQ bullying. Of course, in Colombia, wearing purple for GLAAD Spirit Day doesn’t quite have the context it does when I’m in the US doing such things (given that I wear purple quite frequently and there probably aren’t nearly as many participants here as in the US), but I chose to participate anyway.

I kept an eye on Twitter throughout the day; various tweets went out circulating articles about LGBTQ-related issues as well as posting pictures of people’s purple outfits. Practically all of my Facebook friends who changed their profile pictures today changed them to something purple. Clearly, people chose to celebrate Spirit Day. One of the articles I came across was a Huffington Post Religion slide show of 15 Inspiring LGBT Religious Leaders, and I found myself thinking “Gee, won’t it be a wonderful day when we can have United Methodists openly on lists like that?” Luckily, there are many amazing people working toward that day as part of a growing movement of Reconciling United Methodists.

While I was on Twitter, I saw it explode with articles about how Muammar Gaddafi was killed by the civil war against his regime in Libya today. This was part of the continuation of the uprising that began back in February as part of the “Arab Spring”, the nickname for the string of concurrent movements this past winter and spring, resulting in revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia; Libya’s civil war; civil uprisings in Bahrain, Syria, and Yemen; major protests in Israel, Algeria, Iraq, Jordan, Morocco, and Oman; minor protests in Kuwait, Lebanon, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Western Sahara; and clashes on the Israeli border. Many of these uprisings and protests sought and continue to seek to bring an end to unjust and oppressive regimes.

On Facebook, I saw that a US-2 from the class prior to mine, working with Interfaith Worker Justice in Chicago, had been arrested in the Occupy Chicago protests. This reminded me of how during our Interview and Discernment Days he had told us of his involvement in the protests in Wisconsin back in February against the anti-labor legislation in the state. If I recall correctly, he had been part of a group that performed an act of civil disobedience with the intention of being arrested, but never was. But now, he had been, as part of the movement speaking out for “the 99%” – the people who are experiencing the harm caused by the income inequality in the United States.

So where do these three (or more) seemingly unrelated movements connect? Well, that’s where the next article I found comes into play. This one was similar to some works of social movement theory which I have read in the past. It was an article I found through Colorlines about the present movement moment, or the concurrent events and factors which allow for a social movement to really take off, specifically as it relates to the “Occupy” protests. In the case of the Occupy protests, there seems to have been a confluence of factors which have created the perfect political and social atmosphere to allow for such a large and widespread movement to take root. But it made me wonder…is the movement moment we seem to be witnessing limited solely to the Occupy protests? Or is it a larger movement moment, making possible many different efforts to end oppression? Are we experiencing a global movement moment at the intersections of oppression and marginality?

I think we are. I’m not sure what all the factors are fueling these individual movements (and I feel like that would take far more time to figure out than I have), and I’m sure that the factors are not the exact same in all cases. However, I do think that there must be some connecting factors that are helping to fuel this larger movement moment. On the whole, we’re living in a rather turbulent time; there have been a lot of changes in recent years, politically, economically, technologically, socially, etc. I think that maybe, just maybe, this turbulence and the shifts that have come about because of it might afford us access to the opportune movement moment, where social movements can truly take root and from which we might be able to see some substantial changes.

However, one thing which I think is critical to the potential strength of this movement moment is that the seemingly isolated movements must work together. Solidarity is critical, especially in this increasingly globalized world. All of these movements seek to end oppression of various forms, and are working to create a more just, equal, and inclusive world. Of course, the individual movements need to flourish in their own ways, but must also seek ways to support one another as they seek their individual, but intricately interconnected goals.

A famous quote by Mahatma Gandhi suggests that “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” The opportunity is set before us in this movement moment; the choice is ours and the time is now – will we step up as part of the movements for justice, love, and equality, or will we simply stand by and wait for change to happen?

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