Patience is not a quality that I demonstrate very well, but I can respect the holy merit of patient waiting. Advent is the season where Christians wait, long, and prepare for the birth of their Messiah, Jesus Christ. In Judaism, we too long for the Messiah, who has historically been described as a prominent political or military figure, similar to King David, who will usher in a great period of peace and harmony. This long-standing image has sustained the Jewish people for thousands of years, but what if our Biblical understanding of the Messiah does not match our modern-day needs for what constitutes a Savior? Perhaps we are not looking in the right direction.
After what has been one of the most socially and politically turbulent periods in recent American history, I have no problem admitting that I am sick and tired of waiting and longing for a more holy, peaceful and just time. While I feel as though much has been done to seize the emotional and spiritual momentum surrounding many of the tragic events that occurred this past year, we cannot wait to push forward for the social justice that we as a country and religious community deserve. We can no longer passively wait for fundamental rights such as due process, a fair trial in a court of law (one where the decision has not already been decided by a Kangaroo Court) the right not to be racially profiled, and the right to marry whomever one is lucky enough to fall in love with, regardless of their sex, orientation, or identity.
What if the protest movements that have spawned out of the memory of Michael Brown’s death and all the other countless, senseless murders at the hands of police offers are Messianic in nature? Now, I will be careful not to say that Michael Brown was the Messiah, but what if today’s social justice movements are helping to bring about the end of times as we know it; the end of institutionalized racism and social discrimination and the beginning of true, honest, and holy racial, ethnic, religious, gender, economic, educational and sexual equality?
While I cringe at the awkward, ignorant comments that some in the mostly white community have made regarding the state of race relations such as, “Racism isn’t as bad as it used to be,” or “With civil rights and affirmative action, what else do minorities want?” I could not be more proud of the countless ministers, imams, priests, rabbis, cantors, and other religious leaders who have stood up, raised their voices, and joined the protests affirming that black lives do indeed matter. We owe it to ourselves and the founding principles of this country to show our support and add to the power of the protest movement. There has not been an issue that has galvanized so many and so strongly since the original Civil Rights movement of the 1960’s.
I am a prudent, moderate liberal, who believes in calculated but steady social reform. However, as much as I am often confused by the methods of the radicals, I cannot help but admire their courage, envy their zest, and begrudgingly respect their hopeful appeal for true, sweeping systematic change. The successful marriage equality protests outside many of the State Supreme Courts and the peaceful marches in the streets of Ferguson, all over New York City, and throughout America regarding the cry for equality and justice are awe inspiring. The entire country is watching, and the whole world is taking notice. Please keep up the fight!
We must individually act like small, anointed leaders and mindful Saviors who will help change this country and usher in a new order, a new reality that works to erase the division that defines our two tier legal justice systems. Whether it involves same-sex marriage or racial equality, we must fight to counter the modern “Separate but Equal” policies that still adversely affect so many throughout this country. Yes, this was an exhausting summer and an emotionally challenging year, but the traumas of 2014 have awoken us to stand tall, make our voices heard, and demand justice where it does not exist. I am unsure what exactly the next step is in this pursuit, but we cannot lose the momentum. The current fight for human rights is more than just a passing fad; it could alter the fabric of our society for the better and be the crowning achievement of the Millennial Generation. Since we cannot wait for another King, David or Martin Luther, to accomplish this, we must find the Savior from within because none of us has another Advent to wait for human rights.
Image courtesy of the Washington DC Public Library