Almost four years ago, I walked up the Capitol steps in freezing rain to join other clergy and officiants to perform the first legally sanctioned same-sex weddings in Washington State. Those of us who could legally perform a ceremony were invited to donate our services to any who chose to get married under, near, or around the Christmas tree in the Rotunda. Robed clergy of many denominations, justice of the peace and others, stood in a line as couple after couple met them, chose them, and designed an on the spot ceremony. I had the great honor of performing two such ceremonies that day. I wore my purple robes. That was a proud day in my ministry as I participated in a human rights victory. Yes, the world was looking up, reason and justice held hands, hope for a more open collective consciousness reigned. I was happy to donate my time and energy.
Today, I walked up the same steps, in the freezing rain, again. This time, the mood more somber, the stakes higher, the hope diminishing. I entered the same Rotunda, the same Christmas tree lit up the space, the same group of people sat on the steps. Except this time, there was no joy, no celebration or jubilation. People were gathered in every state capital to encourage electors not to vote for Trump.
By the time you read this, you will know that Trump won the electoral college. I am sick even as I write this. I am sick with fear of what he will unleash. But that is for the future to bring, and we will fight and so on and so on. What is even more frightening than the future scenario is that so many people, millions of people, are terrified. Galvanized? yes. Lit up to become activists? yes. Can this be a tipping point moment for our world? Yes.
The reality is that about half of this country does not get it. Simply does not understand the horror, terror and fear that is gripping the other half. Not to conflate paternalism with government, but it is archetypally coherent that the ruling power has as its mandate the care and concern of the people. All the people. Not just those who tell you what you want to hear. It’s like we are living out the other fairy tale, the one where the new king comes in already corrupt, without clothes and devours the kingdom. It’s backwards. We need the new prince or princess to save the kingdom. But life is not a fairy tale with the one prince or the one princess that lifts the curse after many travails and obstacles. Like is messy and requires us to step up and step in.
It is up to each one of us to become the prince, the princess, or the Wise Old Man, the Wise Old Woman who help them on the way. How do we do that? We shout from the Capitol Steps, “the Emperor has no clothes.” Time after time after time, we speak up, and speak out. We will question, we will petition, we will support democracy, the rights of all to love who they love, marry who they marry, practice whatever religion they choose. We will fight for care for the young, the elderly, the marginalized. We will not fall asleep at the spindle, or wait to be kissed awake. We will keep our eyes and ears and hearts open.
That’s the thing about fairy tales. We have to make them come true.