“We’re issuing a new executive action next week that will comprehensively protect our country.”
(Donald Trump at a February 16 news conference)
I was glad, so glad that the judicial system stayed the first executive order on immigration and refugees, so glad that our system is still capable of exercising checks and balances, so glad that such an ill-conceived and ill-intended and, frankly, cruel blanket ban was seen for was it is, or rather for what it is not — not us, not who we are at our best, not who, it is my hope, most of us want to be.
But this administration is determined to get its way, which means that advocates for refugees and advocates for a just America and advocates of compassion must remain vigilant and vocal! We must protest, not stand by quietly while people’s lives are disrupted and upended. We must continue to stand not against, but stand for — stand for compassion, stand for the protection of people at risk, stand for welcome and acceptance and affirmation of people not like us. Or better, stand for defining “us” to include people who are not just like “me!”
It is difficult to keep on speaking up, difficult to keep on protesting, difficult to sustain energy and will and engagement, especially when protest seems futile, when it seems not to make a difference. I do believe voices of justice and compassion can make a difference, but I was reminded that protest is not merely about effecting change, but also and especially about integrity and about faithfulness, faithfulness to the core values that make us who we are. I was reminded by this quote from Wendell Berry headlining the current edition of the The Weekly Sift:
Much protest is naive; it expects quick, visible improvement and despairs and gives up when such improvement does not come. Protesters who hold out longer have perhaps understood that success is not the proper goal. If protest depended on success, there would be little protest of any durability or significance. History simply affords too little evidence that anyone’s individual protest is of any use. Protest that endures, I think, is moved by a hope far more modest than that of public success: namely, the hope of preserving qualities in one’s own heart and spirit that would be destroyed by acquiescence.