by guest blogger GARY HENKLE:
Are you a Carrie or a Samantha? A Miranda or a Charlotte?” During the mid-2000s, this was the question you had to answer. At the height of its fame, fans of the hit HBO comedy Sex And The City asked each other which character exemplified their personal character. Were you a compulsive designer shoe shopper with the soul of a writer? You were a Carrie. If you owned your sexuality and defied gender roles in the dating world, you were a Samantha. If you were sexually innocent and adored societal traditions, you were a Charlotte. If you were the type of person to argue that this type of labeling was ridiculous, and you weren’t afraid to say so forcefully, you were probably a Miranda, (played by friend to Koleinu and CBST, Cynthia Nixon).
Since the run of Sex and The City ended, enough victims have been claimed by the Great Recession of 2008 to make many of those episodes of SATC we enjoyed so much seem a little like emblems of the materialism and callousness of those Bush years. What we thought of then as growth, we know now was merely a large, empty bubble waiting to burst.
Now that it has, many are seeking spiritual growth through social justice. As we help ourselves up we are more aware of the suffering of others, because we are feeling the same pain they do. Some have begun to make the connection between the systemic policies in our laws and public budgets that reward greed and ignore the suffering of the United States’ most vulnerable populations in allowing social injustice and inequality to flourish.
As our awareness of social justice increases, and our knowledge turns to action, it might be time in this new era to compare ourselves to another set of beloved characters.
So, I’d like to know: “Are you a Moses or an Elijah? A Miriam or an Esther?”
Moses, if you recall, was a reluctant activist. As someone who had lived a life of privilege outside the culture of the oppressed class, he didn’t feel comfortable speaking on behalf of the Hebrews. Yet when he witnessed the brutal conditions they lived under, he knew it wasn’t right for people to live this way, and he eventually lead the nation out of bondage.
Elijah was a different kind of prophet. He was born with a mission, and spoke boldly as though he had fire in his blood. He could talk with extreme harshness to the most powerful rulers of his time without seeming to fear any consequence, because he had such certainty that the force of righteousness was behind him.
Esther similarly lived much of her life enveloped in wealth and power. To speak out against the planned slaughtering of the Jewish people meant risking giving all that up, not to mention putting her very life at stake. Yet when the moment came for her to act on what was right, she found the courage to do so.
Miriam, like Elijah seemed to have been born on a mission- she was charged with guiding the baby Moses to make sure that when he grew into adulthood he had awareness of what was going on around him. Miriam was bold and sometimes headstrong in this endeavor. When she felt that the connection Moses had with his heritage might be threatened, she spoke out. When she tasted liberation she sang victorious.
Some of us are reluctant activists. We don’t feel personally connected enough to the cause we’re asked to take up the mantle for. When we have misgivings and doubts, it makes it difficult to lead because we’re not sure which direction to take. We think “the people we’re opposing aren’t bad people. They even make many valid points. They are just products of their own upbringing, after all. How can I crusade against them? Better to leave the job to someone who is more sure of themselves.” Like Moses we doubt our abilities, asking ourselves, do I posses enough eloquence of voice to convince others to follow me? Will my voice wilt if someone challenges what I have to say? Do I have the organizational skills to make change happen?
Some of us are firebrand activists on a mission. We have an ache inside us that grows more intense when we feel we’re not doing enough to act on the side of justice. We know what we need to do, and we get frustrated when people don’t get involved. We settle for gently prodding, but on certain occasions find ourselves loudly commanding the people with the ability to make change happen become aware of their full potential as leaders and activists.
Whichever “type” you fall under, know that there is a place for you to become more involved in advocating for social justice.
If you’re a Moses, you don’t have to be the greatest speaker, or the greatest social organizer in the world to become involved. You don’t have to agree with every voice in the social justice movement to join its chorus.
If you’re an Elijah, it’s natural to want to preach at every person who hesitates to join you, and attack anyone who doesn’t agree with everything you have to say. This might set you back a little, but you’re going to do what you feel you have to do when too many become too complacent while the voiceless cry silent tears.
Either way, when the moment arrives to do what you can, do it.
That is what all of these inspiring figures had in common.