On Democracy / Office Hours Next Week

On Democracy

Rev. Aaron Payson

     Democracy by Langston Hughes

Democracy will not come
Today, this year
Nor ever
Through compromise and fear.

I have as much right
As the other fellow has
To stand
On my two feet
And own the land.

I tire so of hearing people say,
Let things take their course.
Tomorrow is another day.
I do not need my freedom when I’m dead.
I cannot live on tomorrow’s bread.

Is a strong seed
In a great need.

I live here, too.
I want freedom
Just as you.

This month’s Touchstone Ministry Theme is “Democracy.” It is a late 16th century term, which and online source notes, comes to us from the French démocratie, via late Latin, from the Greek dēmokratia, formed by the words dēmos ‘the people’ + -kratia ‘power, rule’.

The poet Hughes, however, demonstrates that it is not simply about the power, it is also a term which denotes freedom, and the actualization of power in order to bring about a quality of living which gives us the means to make needed changes in the present in order to actualize and extend such freedom for ourselves and those for whom such an ideal is only that, and ideal.

There is an urgency in the poet’s words, a sense that what democracy requires is not something that can be put off.  Perhaps it is demonstrative of our own privilege, those of us who have been born into a democratic republic, that the vast majority of us don’t exercise our rights, especially to vote.  Or perhaps it is a sense of learned helplessness, that our our efforts, our votes, do not matter, nothing seems to change – ultimately.  Maybe, though, it is our own level of comfort, that we do not have the kinds of wants that make our efforts imperative, even if we do not at first succeed, that make for absences at the rally, march, or ballot box.

And yet, we too know “freedom is a strong seed, planted in a great need.”  In an era when so many of the freedoms, we often take for granted, are under threat, that the poet’s wisdom and vision are needed again, so we might remember too,

     I do not need my freedom when I’m dead.
I cannot live on tomorrow’s bread.

In this way, democracy is more a demand placed upon us by those whose freedom is yet to be won, and less a right or a choice given to us by birth or chosen citizenship.  This is what democracy means.  What does democracy look like?  Hear again the poet’s wisdom

          A Brave And Startling Truth by Maya Angelou

We, this people, on this small and drifting planet,
Whose hands can strike with such abandon
That, in a twinkling, life is sapped from the living,
Yet those same hands can touch with such healing, irresistible tenderness,

We, this people, on this wayward, floating body,
Created on this earth, of this earth,
We have the power to fashion for this earth
A climate where every man and very woman
Can live freely, without sanctimonious piety,
Without crippling fear…

We, this people,
In whose mouths abide cankerous words
Which challenge our very existence,
Yet out of those same mouths
Come songs of such exquisite sweetness
That the heart falters in its labor
And the body is quieted into awe…

When we come to it
to the day of peacemaking –
We must confess that we are the possible,
We are the miraculous, the true wonder of this world.

Office InformationJennifer Landry, Office Administrator

Change in Office Hours next week: The church office will be open as usual from 9 – 3 on Monday and Tuesday (10/7 & 8) next week, closed on Wednesday and Thursday (10/9 & 10) while Jen attends a professional development seminar on Wednesday and assists her father with medical needs on Thursday, and will be open on Friday from 9 – 3.