Classes began this week, monopolizing my time and making it easy for me to forget about the important things while I'm caught up in the mire of attendance sheets, student emails, and making sure I'm not royally screwing up a lecture on logos, pathos and ethos.
In the midst of all of that, however, it seems that my reading for class has dovetailed neatly with my interests in this trip to India, and with stopping the regime of modern day slavery that affects so many.
For my Monday class - Women in Rhetoric - we had to read a book entitled "Women Called to Witness," about the religious beginnings of the movements that eventually lead to the institution of the 19th Amendment granting women the right to vote, and which began the spirit of abolition and the Civil Rights movement. Many of the early reformers were religious, and were fighting first and foremost for the right to speak and prophesy in church assemblies, which in those days, was scandalous. Once the right to that was won, they coupled the woman's rights movements with those of temperance, moral reform and abolition. In fighting for others, they saw how they could free themselves. Most of those involved in the social justice movement realized that massive reforms were needed if we were going to recognize our fellow human beings as the humans that they are, and fulfill the gospel call to "love your neighbor as yourself." Many of the women involved in the abolitionist movement urged their fellow religious men and women within the abolitionist movement to support the suffragist movement because freedom for one group without freedom for the other was no freedom at all.
See the connection? Everything involving human rights is interconnected: I cannot be truly free while my brothers and sisters in India, in Europe, in Singapore, in North Korea, in Cambodia, in Austin, TX, Pierre, SD, Los Angeles, CA, Queens Borough in NYC and places across the globe, whom Christ dearly loves and died for just as he died for all of our American church-goers, are still in bondage to evil masters. God calls us first and foremost to go to the poor, to the hurting, and to love them as we love ourselves and as we reflect the love of God in our lives.
In the midst of the beginning of this school, do not forget that simple fact.
Angelina Grimke, one of the big names in the woman's suffragist movement of the late 19th century, writes this: "I am sure that the poor and oppressed ... can never be benefited without mingling with them on terms of equality."
They are our brothers and sisters. Let's start behaving that way.