Facing the Dragon

If we awaken a Dragon, we need courage to face a Dragon.

Two terms of a Black President. Gay Marriage. Deeply humanizing gains in the struggle for Immigrant Rights. A new force in our country bravely declaring (in word and deed) that Black Lives Matter. In so many ways, communities experiencing identity-based violence have been speaking out, pushing back, and loving ourselves out loud.

This is causing a Dragon of cultural backlash in the United States against these communities. The ‘Trump Effect’ is not about Donald Trump or this election alone anymore. From those of us who are having our sacred Black Lives Matter banners desecrated at our churches to those of us engaging in non-violent civil disobedience who are having our lives threatened: we see rage, resentment and suffering shaped into actions that could make us very afraid.

That is where our faith comes in: this is why Standing on the Side of Love is so needed in this time. We know that our works of collective love are more powerful than our individual fear. Our faith wakes us up in the morning, reminding us that we are called to act in this time. We see Standing on the Side of Love as an expanding campaign that can be a balm of fortification. Fortification for our social justice movements. Fortification for our activists and faith leaders who are tired, afraid, alone and spiritually depleted in the face of such a Dragon. Fortification for what this time requires of us. 

Not all leaders have to be builders, architects, or lone wolf strategists. Some are fortifiers. We nurture, buffer and protect the movements as they are under attack. We bring spiritual sustenance to the struggle. Over the past two months, Standing on the Side of Love supporters have shared with me their hopes, fears and dreams for the campaign. In talking to many of you, I heard you loud and clear: “Many (but not all) of us are white, we are straight, not trans, we are middle class, we are all ages, all geographies and we are of faith. We are of faith and we are willing to activate and mobilize for love and justice. What can we do? How can we do what we are doing better- within and beyond our communities?”

Folks saying No More 1070s at the Arizona State Capitol. Photograph by UU Congregation of Phoenix

I find myself emotional writing this here in a coffee shop in Phoenix after a few long weeks of fighting this backlash here. Emotional because the humility of willingness is one of my deepest spiritual values, and I share the question above myself. What role can we play? By being willing to spiritually consider what it means to fortify movements, leaders, each other, and our congregations; we are able to see a leadership that does not have to hold the spotlight or make it all about ourselves individually in order to lead. I am excited to continue the conversation about how we could support each other in this work in this time.

For this week, I invite our prayers and actions for two events of the past few weeks. In Arizona, UU’s have courageously flanked Puente and other groups taking on a new round of backlash legislation that rivals the hate of SB1070. Please consider supporting their petition which they have struggled to fill, to stop this travesty of backlash. Yesterday, North Carolina became arguably the most anti-LGBTQ state in the country with a piece of legislation that makes it illegal for Trans people to use bathrooms in public. UU’s and others are using their places of worship to fortify and lead social movement efforts there. To follow both of these efforts and more that are bringing #courage4backlash and dreaming all the different ways for how we can live on the side of love at this time follow #Time2Escalate on social media for news and next steps.

In appreciation and respect,

Caitlin Breedlove
Campaign Director, Standing on the Side of Love