[COMM-ORG] Organizing stories for Easter

Discussion list for COMM-ORG colist at comm-org.wisc.edu
Sun Apr 24 10:07:10 CDT 2011

 From: Gordon Whitman PICO <news at piconetwork.org>

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Dear Friends,

Many of us became involved in organizing because we saw pain in the
community that cried out for a response. Later we realized that change
is as much about our own transformation as it is about improving the
world out there. Each of us has a story of oppression and liberation.
Telling that story is both sacred and essential.

This week, as Jews retell the story of Passover and Christians prepare
for Easter, we are reminded of how personal the struggle for freedom and
a better life is for each one of us in our own time. On behalf of the
PICO network we want to wish those who are celebrating Passover and
Easter a rich period of reflection and rebirth.

To pursue justice we necessarily engage with the structures that
perpetuate injustice. As we confront power and change policy it can be
easy to lose sight of the spiritual dimension of all change.

Today, in many ways our nation is at a cross-roads, with increasing
poverty and inequality, and a new threat to the social safety net. Yet
our struggle for a better society is not just about dollars and cents.
It is moral contest. It is about who we are as human beings, our purpose
in life and the covenant that binds us together.

Dr. Alvin C. Bernstine, a clergy leader with Contra Costa Interfaith,
teaches organizing through the story of Nehemiah, arguing that God
requires a "personal, inner struggle for those who would participate in
the process of rebuilding community life."

To mark Passover and Easter we've been asking clergy to share
reflections on organizing. We've posted some of those on PICO's blog


, Community Voice, including a moving post


on the economy by Dr. Rev. Ryan Bell, pastor of Hollywood Seventh Day
Adventist Church in Los Angeles.

He writes: "While we've been promising heaven in the by-and-by, people's
lives have slowly unraveled in the here and now. We have allowed the
gospel to be co-opted to an ideology that is diametrically opposed to
the vision of the Jesus and the prophets. It is time for people of faith
to stand up for pure religion &mdash; "to look after orphans and widows
in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world"
(James 1:27)."

We encourage you to read the reflections on Community Voice


and post your own comments.

Two weeks ago at a PICO national meeting, Evelyn Knight shared her story
of growing up in deep poverty in the South in the 1930's. In 1940 her
father found a job and that transformed her life and that of her family.
She reflected on the opportunity she had to attend college and find an
even better job herself. Yet she said that her own children and
grandchildren seem to have less opportunity today than she did fifty
years ago.

Her story brought home the impact that structures have on all of our
lives. Over the coming months we'll be talking a lot about how our
network can help rebuild pathways to economic opportunity for all people
in the United States.

Today, let's reflect on the meaning and purpose of this struggle for


Gordon Whitman and Rev. Michael-Ray Mathews, PICO national staff

Copyright (c) 2011 PICO

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