I have learned to see time like it is a fly rapidly zigzagging as it seeks a place to settle. As an activist seeking change on many issues, I try to figure out what is timely right now. So I’m always trying to catch the elusive time fly. Time sits still for only a fraction of a second where I might be able to grasp it. Then it’s off again. The world is always moving. Always, I have to figure out the call of the moment.
Often a challenge with social justice is that we are zigging while the times are zagging. One day there’s a camp in the middle of the city, alight with energy in the name of the 99%. The next day no one has time and the camp is swept away. One day the streets are filled with people protesting a war. The next day there are smaller actions against climate change, dedicated and growing. One day outrage erupts around violence from police. The next day that outrage moves inside of government buildings. The next day there’s a pandemic.
I try to plant seeds: an idea here, a new relationship there, an activity over there. Then I watch to see what blooms. I can never be sure what it will be, but I know I must care for whatever takes off and it will not last forever. Time moves on. The fly changes course.
During the crucial 2020 election, with democracy at stake in the middle of a pandemic, it was timely to write letters and make phone calls to get out the vote. As we heard of possible voter intimidation, it was wonderful that UUCF could respond by giving out snacks and water as a friendly presence at the polls. When George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor were killed at the hands of police and protests spread across the nation, it was important for us to have our own witness, which we did in Vienna. With this pandemic crisis, where people have struggled to have work and afford necessities like food and rent, it was so timely to organize our monthly food drives, which have now continued for over a year, building connections and serving the community. Even little things, like actions taken over the Martin Luther King Weekend of Service, which occurs around the Virginia legislative session, offered an opportunity to collaborate across social justice areas for virtual advocacy in Richmond; and most of the things we asked for passed.
I wonder about our potential at UUCF and in Unitarian Universalism as a whole. At the Highlander Center in Tennessee, Rosa Parks trained so she might disrupt the segregated bus system in Montgomery, AL. She had no way of knowing how deeply this act would resonate with the time – what would emerge and be magnified by the actions of a deeply committed network for civil rights. When outrage sparked in Ferguson, MO, after the death of Michael Brown, they had no way of knowing this would build an international Black Lives Matter movement. As we try to respond to the call of the moment, what might our potential become? How might we serve the needs of the world and ourselves?