The only good argument I have against congressional term-limits is that John Lewis is my congressman, and I’d like to keep it that way for as long as possible. He turns 77 next Tuesday, so no one will blame him if he decides to rest a bit. Still, there is no indication that he plans to do that, especially in the face of what is happening in our world today.
“History,” he said recently, “will not be kind to us, so you have a moral obligation, a mission and a mandate to speak up, speak out, and get in good trouble. You can do it. You must do it. Not just for yourselves but for generations yet unborn.”
This is a challenge from someone who still bears the scars and the disabilities from being beaten into a coma on the Edmund Pettis Bridge in Selma, Alabama. He has been arrested four dozen times for acts of civil disobedience in the pursuit of civil rights. His challenge is not made naïvely, like a celibate priest giving marriage advice. He has walked the walk, and his call for us to do the same is an authentic one.
John attended his first gay wedding in 1981 in Georgia. This was an act of courage by someone who had been elected that very week to the Atlanta City Council. The church building where the wedding was held was later vandalized and then set on fire. Attending that wedding was a brave act by someone who was planning to run for congress in the South. I should know because it was my wedding.
What courageous act will you do because it is the right thing? How will you seek to resist injustice, particularly injustice that does not directly impact you or your family? What sacrifice are you willing to make?
I don’t know if you have been paying attention to the news lately, but, if you have, let me leave you with one of the Congressman’s favorite questions, “If not us, then who? If not now, then when?”
Rev. Michael Piazza