Friday, August 8, 2008

Citizenship: Sick and Tired

''I am sick and tired of being sick and tired''

With beautiful verbal threads, Fannie Lou Hamer clothed the sentiment that drives many a citizen into the public square. A profound refusal to wait for civil rights motivated Ms. Hamer's incessant advocacy on behalf of democracy and black people in Mississippi. In doing so, she said no to apathy and yes to activism. For most of my 22 years, a sense that the world is not as it ought to be characterized my response to social ills.

But as of late I have moved into Fannie Lou territory; I trace my diagnosis to a Sojourners internship that introduced me to Washington politics. It boils my blood to think that it took Congress over a year to pass the housing legislation. Anger arises when I think of the Earned Income Tax Credit marriage penalty that discourages working single parents from marrying an employed spouse. Isn't that utterly ridiculous? What kind of a world do we live in when the government undermines the formation of families, one of the basic units of society?

Worse still, my soul cringes as I recall my callous indifference about hijacked elections in 2000, my failure to vote in 2004, and my very own piece of post-Civil Rights privilege pie. I'm feeling like Fannie yall. I'm sick. This condition, what I have called a holy impatience elsewhere, undergirds my newfound dedication to citizenship. It compels me to participate more actively in democracy and to abstain from the civic apathy of my college years.

Forgive us, O Lord, for our civic apathy and indifference to our suffering neighbors; may we recommit ourselves to doing justice, loving mercy, and walking humbly with you

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