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A View from Here

Exploring Faith and Community • Macalester Plymouth United Church

July 9, 2020

Rev. Corinne Freedman Ellis

This week, an epic event occurred:  Hamilton was released for home viewing on Disney+! I happen to have a spouse who has not listened to a single song on the soundtrack because he wanted to associate the songs with the full sensory experience of seeing the show live. In a pandemic, this is the next best thing. And…it’s been almost a week, and we still haven’t watched it. (Blaming the toddler.)

But Lauren Dickinson, our fantastic Youth Coordinator, she has seen it not once but twice in person and has seen it on Disney+ not once but three times. She brought the following quote to our staff meeting: “If you stand for nothing, Burr, what’ll you fall for?” Of course, Burr does end up missing his chance to have an influence because he’s ultimately in it for himself, not for any greater cause or purpose. I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to stand for something–to truly pledge our allegiance to something beyond ourselves.

I want to say that something is my Christian faith. My commitment to being a follower of Jesus, Palestinian Jewish table-flipping savior to all who are poor and oppressed. But I often find myself centering my own concerns and experiences over the ones toward which this Christ-allegiance should be pointing me. Anti-racism work is hard and tiring, so I won’t open up a conversation about dismantling cultural white supremacy in that Zoom meeting because I don’t have the energy for it today. Amazon and Whole Foods mistreat their workers, but we need grocery delivery because we’re self-quarantining right now and they can get it to us fastest, so we use them anyway. I don’t feel like I have the perfect response to an acquaintance’s denial of the racial inequities that the COVID-19 pandemic is laying bare, so I won’t push it because I’m afraid of looking stupid. It is so easy to make choices that reinforce my own privilege and comfort. A big reason why injustice persists is because of inertia. 

So right now I’m looking to Alexander Hamilton for inspiration. He lived and died by his commitment to a strong federal government that worked for the greater good. His example inspires me to stand for something too- if I don’t, what will I fall for?