In 1990, there was no such thing as accessibility for people in wheelchairs. The Americans with Disabilities Act was still an idea, and jarring action was needed. Word spread, and soon, disability rights activists made a shocking visual statement: they crawled up the steps of the capitol building, demanding that this law be passed. They stood up while on their knees.
In the 1950s, African-Americans were treated as second-class citizens. At the end of a long day on the job, Rosa Parks couldn’t take it anymore and refused to go to the back of the bus. She stood up while sitting down.
Memory Banda knew the path her family chose for her included marriage as a child bride in Malawi. Preparation for the wedding included an unthinkable ritual in which an older man deflowered her. When her own people encouraged this atrocity, she stood up and wouldn’t lie down.
Sometimes the right thing to do when you’re being held down is to stand up. Change doesn’t always come through “proper channels.”
It’s been said that for every problem, there’s a solution, but for those living without basic needs or those not being treated properly, the in-between time can be a living hell. It can also be a time of growth; a period in which change is gestating.
As people of faith, we bring our troubles to God. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. (Philippians 4:6 NIV) This is the time of abiding.
But there comes a time when we are expected to act. Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love. (1 Corinthians 16:13-14 NIV) This is the time of deciding.
It takes a decision to do what’s right. Small things, like checking on an elderly neighbor in a heatwave. Larger things, like what the Miami Coalition for the Homeless is doing: helping homeless people right on the streets with food and medication assistance.
There’s a time for abiding and a time for deciding. The time in between? That’s life.