Every time I show up for justice, friends and family inevitably ask: “Why show up? What does it accomplish?” I understand the questions. There is, after all, risk involved.
Over the years, I have participated in numerous marches, vigils, and rallies for justice—for farmworker, women, children, immigrant, environmental, disability, and other justice causes. This will continue to be an important practice for me. In my internship thus far, I have had the opportunity join the 1000 Ministers March on 8/28, to witness the close of the DACA rally on 9/04, to coordinate young adults to attend the March for Racial Justice on 9/30, and to assist in a voter registration drive in front of the National Rifle Association headquarters on 10/14 (protestors gather monthly on this day since the Sandy Hook tragedy). I have facilitated our congregation signing a gun violence petition, and worked with a team to plan a National Interfaith Clergy Witness at the National Rifle Association headquarters on December 14, 2017.
But what does all of this accomplish? Why do I show up, again and again? Because these are not the right questions. For me showing up is a spiritual act more than an act that I expect any concrete results from. I am engaging in an unpredictable act of defiant hope. I am acting with other people in a collective prayer. I relinquish control over an outcome, letting it fly. What it accomplishes is not a pertinent question. Why show up? This is where faith comes in. Instead of asking for the justification for why, I ask the open-ended question: What if I show up? What is the world of possibility, a world of imagination in which showing up matters?
So, I tell my friends and family who ask why and for what: No, I don’t know why and I don’t know what it will accomplish. But it feels like resilience and it feels like resistance and it feels like a prayer. I never know what will come of it but I put my heart on the idea of beloved community and act as though it were there in our glimmering future. Whether singing at a rally, signing a petition, or preaching on justice, I am engaging in an act of faith to love the world on the way.
Pippin is a Congregational Studies student in the MDiv program. She interns at Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Fairfax, Virginia.