June 18, 2022
Dear PJ's Community,
Today, Saturday, June 18, 2022 there will be a gathering of thousands, hopefully hundreds of thousands, of people in the nation's capital for the “Mass Poor People’s and Low-Wage Workers’ Assembly and Moral March on Washington and to the Polls”.
In 1968, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and many others called for a “revolution of values” in America. They sought to build a broad, fusion movement that could unite poor and oppressed communities across the country. They named this effort: "The Poor People’s Campaign. "
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. described two Americas, "One small and beautiful where some have freedom, dignity and plenty, and the other where millions are daily constrained by the harsh realities of poverty." Here, in the wealthiest country in the history of the world, over 140 million people either live in poverty, or are just one health crisis, accident, or job loss away from financial calamity. In the country with the largest military budget ever, we lose more soldiers to suicide than we do on the battlefield. There exists no shortage of resources or tools to help our veterans or the poor, rather, there is a scarcity of political will and moral consciousness.
Today, the "Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival" has reorganized to continue Dr. King’s unfinished work. Co-chairs of this campaign, The Reverend Dr. Liz Theoharis and the Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, are organizing people “to come together to confront the interlocking injustices of poverty, systemic racism, ecological devastation, militarism and the war economy, and the distorted moral narrative of religious nationalism”. These are each huge and complex issues and addressing them will require a movement "that will shift the moral narrative, impact policies, and influence elections at every level of government, and build lasting power for poor and impacted people".
In their May 2018 TED Talk, Drs. Theoharis and Barber discuss poverty as a human creation, the result of people not following God's will. They seek to change the narrative about why people are poor. They advocate for living wages, guaranteed income, and universal health care. And they describe how, in times of moral crises, people in this country have organized, risen up, and demanded change, like the abolitionists, and women suffragists. In her recent book, "We Cry Justice: Reading the Bible with the Poor People's Campaign", Rev. Theoharis writes that Deuteronomy 15 “lays out prescriptions that are given so that the people of God know what to do to ensure that there is no poverty – that God’s bounty is enjoyed by all. It concludes that because people do not follow what God has laid out, ‘there will never cease to be some in need on the earth’ “ Verses 4 & 5 read: “However, there need be no poor people among you, for in the land the LORD your God is giving you to possess as your inheritance, he will richly bless you, if only you fully obey the LORD your God and are careful to follow all these commands I am giving you today”.
She also offers this prayer:
God of justice and life, we lift up to you 140 million of your people who are being abandoned in the midst of abundance. Grant us the wisdom, courage, and love to do your will: to organize society around the needs of the poor. May we strive to make earth as it is in heaven. Amen
If you can’t be in Washington DC, you can tune in to a live-stream of the event here: https://www.poorpeoplescampaign.org/livestream/
Brian Fillmore, co-warden
PJs Wardens and Vestry