07 September 2005

passion into action

"louisa's andy", as he's often known to me, is one busy person. (i have a sneaking suspicion that in the course of his career in magic, he must have acquired a hermione granger-style time-turner.) you'll encounter at least two of his many hats in the gothamist interview linked above: he is a political operative. he is a relief coordinator. he has mobilized people to act and he understands the necessity of holding the people who fucked up accountable!

in short, andrew and company at the cesnik campaign have already found a way to turn their heaviness of heart into something real and tangible.

the title of this post is taken verbatim from the sermon that la, al and i heard this past sunday at st. peter's, to which i had interestingly mixed reactions. i believe that, coming into the church on a day whose liturgy is an ode to workers and to equality, i wanted more than anything else to hear some sort of anger from the pulpit. it is true that this disaster was multiplied and magnified by the virulent and yet unremarkable racism and inequality of americans and american policies. it is also true that ledlie, the rector at st. peter's, often has keen and challenging things to say to his mostly white, mostly wealthy congregation on that topic.

ledlie surprised me by refusing, generally, to address the specifically political aspects of this tragedy. instead he focused, appropriately for the day, on the blessing that is labor, and the honor involved in doing something -- indeed, in the current situation, doing anything. he acknowledged the deep injustice of the aftermath of the storm, but he challenged the congregation to see their anger and pain as proof of a deep and abiding sense of community with the people of new orleans, and to believe that these feelings of passion can be turned to tangible gifts of healing. i sat through the sermon with set jaw. i kept wanting to interrupt, thinking about all the ways that a thousand nefarious deeds (and un-deeds) were being let off the hook.

this is true: there is a just and righteous place for anger, and there is no reason that this relief effort should need to be so massive, no reason that the coordinating power of a new york city council campaign should somehow need to take the place of a coherent ahead-of-time policy. however. my expectation that i would hear anger, and my dismay that i (generally) did not, gave way quickly to a sense that ledlie had done right in his sermon. there will be months and years in which to assign responsibility. getting mad is the easy part. the question is: what specific action is to be taken?