Summertime and the Living is Not So Easy

September 8, 2017

By Sister Diane Guerin

A group of Catholics, including several Sisters of Mercy and Mercy staff, march at the Ministers March for Justice on August 28.

As summer unofficially ends, I reflect on end-of-summer day 54 years ago when thousands of people gathered at the foot of the reflecting pool in Washington, D.C. to hear Martin Luther King, Jr., John Lewis and other leaders of the Civil Rights Movement challenge us as a people to eradicate racism and injustice from our society. I remember standing there in the crowd being filled with hope and thinking that yes, together we can make this a reality. On that day I believed that we would see an end to racism in my lifetime.

Four years ago attending the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington, with President Barack Obama leading our nation, my hope was again rekindled that racism could be defeated. So many of those gathered expressed a commitment and passion to work together for a more just and equitable world for all people.

Much has happened since both of these events. We have experienced the hatred and violence of Charlottesville, Virginia; voting rights legislation has been overturned in many places; the Klan, white supremacy groups and Nazi organizations are marching. Yet, amid all these things people of faith and goodwill gathered a few weeks ago in Washington to participate in the Ministers’ March for Justice. Walking from the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial to the Justice Department, those present bore witness that the United States of America that we desire is one of equity and inclusion for all people, not just some people.

Many of us could not be present in Washington for that walk, but we can be present everyday, wherever we live and work. We can bear the same witness in situations and encounters we have every day. Martin Luther King, Jr., warned us that: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only love can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” Each of us is challenged to bring love into places of hate and exclusion. We can do this in quiet ways by example as well as in more direct communication. What is essential is that we do not allow our silence to signal complicity but that we use love and nonviolence to disarm hatred.

We cannot afford the luxury of despair, but as a faith-filled people we need to stand side-by-side against injustice and intolerance of any kind. We need to replace the culture of fear with one of love. Together we can do this, and together we must.

In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, “The ultimate measure of a man [and woman] is not where he [or she] stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he [or she] stands at times of challenge and controversy.” Let’s show where we stand in this time of challenge and controversy. Let’s pray together the Sisters of Mercy prayer for nonviolence and the elimination of racism in our troubled world!

View more photos from the Ministers March for Justice on August 28, 2017 on our Facebook Page.

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  1. Estella W. Plewes

    Thank you, Sister Diane for your insight. Inviting people to be mindful of what is the right thing to do is always prudent. Everyone has a responsibility to affect change in attitudes that are unfailr and deliberately cause harm to others. I am never giving up hope that as Dr. King stated so beautifully, ” I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character”.