Discouraged? Outraged? Some of both? Did the voices of powerful white men mocking, marginalizing and attacking a courageous woman make you sick and despondent?
Do you feel powerless against the deeply entrenched male privilege that’s on display?
Don’t give into that feeling. You have the power to change the world — more than enough. Just look at how much it’s changing even now.
One of the truest lessons of our greatest stories – including the gospels – is that just because your power doesn’t work this time, that doesn’t mean it’s not still there and capable of changing the world the next time.
When I visited the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis earlier this year, I was deeply touched and inspired by how one woman’s brave decision changed everything.
One woman makes a difference
Many times, Rosa Parks had obeyed the man’s directive to move to the back of the bus, feeling powerless against a system of white supremacy. But one time – this time – she said no. Shaking inside with fear, she stood up to the powerful white man driving the bus.
He won this round. She was arrested. Her powerful “no” didn’t change the world that day, or the next. But over days and years, it transformed her society in ways she never imagined.
One woman has made a difference, and she will again. That’s not just our history, but our faith.
One account of the Jesus story begins with a fearful young woman deciding all by herself whether the story would even happen. She lived in a male-dominated society. Men reserved all important decisions for themselves. Women were treated more as property than persons in significant ways, just like today.
But the angel chooses to visit not a man, but this young woman whose courageous decision will embody God’s love and justice more fully in the world. The powerful will be knocked from their thrones, the lowly will be exalted and the hungry will be fed.
Let it be, she says.
Let us do the same.
Along the road, remember that you are never alone. Many people are committed to the proposition that we are all God’s children and must be treated that way in all respects.
The times are changing
And never forget that God is working with us too, which means that we shall overcome some day. God is always on the side of the oppressed, never on the side of the oppressor.
God himself stands with every man who tells his story of church abuse, never with the church leaders who mock and dismiss him.
God herself stands with every woman who tells her story of abuse by powerful men, never with the abusers who mock and deride her.
God supports those trying to get at the truth, never those who are trying to ignore the truth and keep their privilege in place.
Look at how far God has brought us already.
Rosa Parks never imagined we’d have a black president a half-century after she said “no” to the white driver on the bus.
Church leaders never expected that those whom they abused in private would boldly march into their temples and overturn the tables of power, making sure they don’t sweep the truth under the sanctuary carpet yet again.
Powerful men from Hollywood to Washington never thought they would have to pay any price whatsoever for their abusive behavior. But some already have. More will in days to come.
The times, they are changing. The moral arc is bending. God is making all things new.
No going backward
The angry voices and the disgusting mockery by powerful men are an unmistakable sign. They sense their white, male privilege is beginning to slip from their grasp. Their world is changing – they recognize it, they feel threatened by it.
And there’s no going back. They can slow the change, but they can’t stop it.
So, push on. Don’t despair. Don’t let one day’s events distract from the bigger picture. Big changes never happen quickly or easily.
You still have your power to change the world. Keep using it. Change is already here.