Don’t Sleep Through the Revolution 2020

I have heard a few people express the wish – and I’ll acknowledge this longing within myself, too – to just be able to go to sleep right now and wake up “when it’s all over.” Just wake up when the vaccine has been invented and the pandemic is over. The days right now are either too long or too short, depending on your circumstances and responsibilities. And looming over us is the great unknown. We don’t know when this will end. We don’t know the lives it will take, the economic devastation that will occur. It is a scary time.

And yet life keeps happening in the midst of this pandemic, and right now, it may be many things, but life is not boring. Following the viral video of George Floyd being killed at the knee of a police officer, hundreds of thousands of people have taken to the street to protest police brutality and the racism embedded in our culture.

The Unitarian Universalist General Assembly is coming, and this year, it’s coming to a computer near you. Because of covid-19, all of General Assembly will be virtual and you can attend. (If you would like to be a delegate for Live Oak, please let me know!)

One of the traditions of UU General Assembly is The Ware Lecture, and this year’s speaker is Naomi Klein. But it is the 1966 Ware Lecture I have been thinking of this last week.

The speaker that year was the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the title of his speech was “Don’t Sleep Through the Revolution.” He reminded his audience of the story of Rip Van Winkle, and pointed out that he went to sleep when King George III ruled over the country, and woke up to find George Washington was president. He had slept through the revolution.

I believe that this period of history that we are living through will be filled with revolutions. This pandemic is unthinkable. For many people, the election of Donald Trump and events that have happened the last three years were previously unthinkable.

But when so many “unthinkable” things are happening, our minds begin racing, our imagination has been unfettered. After all, if so many negative unthinkable things can happen, why not some positive “previously unthinkable” things? Is our society already ideal? (NO!) Then, what can we do to move it closer to ideal and away from harmful mediocrity?

At the 1966 Ware Lecture, Rev. King concluded his speech by saying, “… I have not despaired of the future. I believe firmly that we can solve this problem. I know that there are still difficult days ahead. And they are days of glorious opportunity.”

Today, in June 2020, that hope and frank assessment ring perhaps even more true. Difficult days lie ahead. And they are filled with opportunity.