I spent most of yesterday mourning the passing of Civil Rights warrior John Lewis, and learning more about him. It was a sad day. Our country is in a perpetual state of loss. Losing this deeply good and brave man right now is almost too much to bear.
I read many John Lewis quotes yesterday. This one spoke to me as I was wallowing in a sense of hopelessness:
I regret to say that I took a screenshot and didn’t write down exactly where this comes from. In searching for more information this morning I found this quote, which is similar but not identical:
But we must accept one central truth and responsibility as participants in a democracy: Freedom is not a state; it is an act. It is not some enchanted garden perched high on a distant plateau where we can finally sit down and rest. Freedom is the continuous action we all must take, and each generation must do its part to create an even more fair, more just society.
It is not just that we must keep working because we are living in such troubling times. We must continue the work because that is what Democracy requires. Some times may be better than others but Lewis reminds us that Democracy and freedom are not sit-down-and-rest states of being. They were always meant to be active.
As the old saying goes, you can’t just talk the talk. You have to walk the walk.
Locally I am encouraged every day by people who walk the walk. These are people whose efforts are transforming lives and who, in one way or another, challenge us to expand our thinking and do better. Erika Strauss Chavarria and the amazing team at Columbia Community Care. Chiara D’Amore and her work at Freetown Farm. Bonnie Bricker at Talk With Me. The young people of HoCo4Justice. Every day around us are people who choose love as an active verb.
Is this the Beloved Community of which Dr. King spoke? Or is it the way that we seek it?
If there is “some enchanted garden perched high on a distant plateau where we can finally sit down and rest” then it is for John Lewis and all the warriors who walked toward danger in order to bring about justice. Let them now rest easy.
Let us now carry on the work.