"We Shall Overcome"
- daybreak in the desert -
Albert Einstein once quipped:
Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again
and expecting different results.
Yesterday I was quite surprised to see those remarkable events unfolding in the U.S. House of Representatives as most of the Democratic members of congress staged a “1960's Style Sit-In,” protesting the lack of legislative resolve in dealing with the prevailing issue of gun violence. The whole event filled me a great sense of hope, not necessarily because we were now going to address the issue of gun control, but because finally there was a break in the insane pattern of doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
Over the past many years, over and over again, we have witnessed a pattern of insanity: Horrifying, tragic instances of mass shootings, always followed by expressions of moral outrage, then flowers and candlelight prayer vigils, moments of silence in congress, and then nothing is done until the next mass shooting happens. I was so filled with hope yesterday because finally something different was going on, something to break the pattern of our national insanity.
As the legislators sat in protest on the floor refusing to budge from the “hallowed halls of congress,” they were breaking all the rules. The House rules don’t allow for that kind of protest and the members were ignoring the orders of proper authorities. Furthermore, the members were broadcasting their protest over their cell phones and media devices so that all the world could see what was going on. This also broke all the rules, media devices are not allowed in the House and the protesting legislators were threatened with arrest.
As I watched (and continue to watch) that extraordinary event going on in Washington, it struck me that sometimes, maybe most of the time, you have to break the rules for justice to prevail and for love to win the day.
I think about the life of Jesus who broke every rule in the book as he stood against the prevailing laws of the empire and of the religious institution of his day by raising his voice for the voiceless. He sacrificed his very life in the cause of compassion. Martin Luther King Jr. and Gandhi did the same thing, so did Nelson Mandela. They were all rule breakers in the cause of justice and peace and they all paid a price for their insurrection.
I am reminded of a line from an Andrew Lloyd Weber song:
Love breaks in and suddenly all our wisdom disappears,
all the rules we made are broken.
Yes, love changes everything.
Love will never ever let you be the same.
As I observed the protest staged by all those staid members of congress in those hallowed halls, I wondered if maybe, just maybe, Love may have broken in - all the rules were broken, the pattern of insanity was broken.
I also believe that in the end, when all is said and done, love will have the final word.
Just a few months before he was assassinated, at a time when there seemed to be so much darkness and injustice in this society, Dr. King gave a speech in which he spoke these words - they continue to echo deep in my heart:
But even in the midst of chaos
I refuse to believe that the daybreak of peace and brotherhood
can never become a reality
I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love
will have the final word
Yes, I still believe that we shall overcome.