Today, while I put away summer decorations–mostly red, white, and blue Americana symbols–I watched the beautiful life celebration and home-going service held at Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church for John Lewis, who used his life’s energy and considerable gifts to fight for civil rights and serve the people of his GA district for 33 years in the United States House of Representatives.
Lewis believed strongly in nonviolent protests and the power of love, so it’s probably no surprise he has long been a hero of mine. His last editorial appeared in the New York Times today, at his request. It is brief, and closes with these lines:
Ordinary people with extraordinary vision can redeem the soul of America by getting in what I call good trouble, necessary trouble. Voting and participating in the democratic process are key. The vote is the most powerful nonviolent change agent you have in a democratic society. You must use it because it is not guaranteed. You can lose it.
You must also study and learn the lessons of history because humanity has been involved in this soul-wrenching, existential struggle for a very long time. People on every continent have stood in your shoes, through decades and centuries before you. The truth does not change, and that is why the answers worked out long ago can help you find solutions to the challenges of our time. Continue to build union between movements stretching across the globe because we must put away our willingness to profit from the exploitation of others.
Though I may not be here with you, I urge you to answer the highest calling of your heart and stand up for what you truly believe. In my life I have done all I can to demonstrate that the way of peace, the way of love and nonviolence is the more excellent way. Now it is your turn to let freedom ring.
When historians pick up their pens to write the story of the 21st century, let them say that it was your generation who laid down the heavy burdens of hate at last and that peace finally triumphed over violence, aggression and war. So I say to you, walk with the wind, brothers and sisters, and let the spirit of peace and the power of everlasting love be your guide. (Together, You Can Redeem the Soul of Our Nation; by John Lewis; The New York Times; Opinion Section; July 30, 2020.)
In the spirit of the great John Lewis, this invitation came to me today, a simple, nonpartisan way to encourage people to vote, and I wanted to share it. I know many of us are unable to venture out in public; here is a way to help from home:
You can sign up to receive 10 (or 100) stamped postcards, pre-addressed to registered voters who have been somewhat reluctant to participate in the vote with regularity, and all you have to do is write a short and encouraging note and get these in the mail.
Throughout our nation’s history, men and women have risked their lives for our right to vote: let’s honor them and our country by encouraging others and reminding them we have to “walk with the wind and let freedom ring.” As Lewis wrote: “Democracy is not a state. It is an act, and each generation must do its part to help build what we called the Beloved Community, a nation and world society at peace with itself.”
In great gratitude for the life of John Lewis and the example he set forth for all of us: Let us make good trouble, with the “spirit of peace and the power of everlasting love” as our guides.