“Rise and shine”

Dear President Trump,

The overarching theme of yesterday’s church service was “Rise and Shine.” There was a lot of great rise-and-shine music and the guest minister’s sermon along these lines was pretty terrific, but it wasn’t until much later in the day yesterday that I paused and really thought about what it could mean to rise and to shine.

So, “rise and shine.” Usually it’s associated with a chirpy admonition to wake up, get the heck out of bed, and get going on something productive and that’s a fair, not unreasonable way to interpret it in everyday usage. But I think we can take it lots further, which was likely the point of the service even though, at least for me, that didn’t come through clearly at the time. Anyway, focusing first on the “rise” part – as noted, there’s the basic “get up” out of bed aspect. However, there’s also the idea of rising from one level up to another, moving from one position up to a higher one. It’s absolutely not new that people who’ve been subjugated and systematically kept in positions of low social and economic standing will get to the point that they are sick and tired of being disrespected and making do with less than such that they will do the cost/benefit analysis and decide to push for change, will organize to rise up.

It’s when we bring “shine” into the picture that things start to feel new and interesting. What I think we are seeing with the new House members and the increasing diversity in legislative bodies across states is a great many people rising up to represent their communities far more fully than was the case when it was pretty much just straight, older, white men in those positions of power. Through this process we are collectively learning that it really is ok, even wonderful, to shine and be great, whoever you happen to be.

It isn’t the case that when lots of different kinds of folks are rising and shining that no straight white males will have a chance at it, but what it will (eventually) mean is that those SWMs who do manage to rise and shine will be the ones who are willing to learn from their new peers and to really, truly share the space with them. In other words, the ground rules for rising and shining are changing. Fast.

May we all be safe to rise and to shine.
May we all be happy to share space in the light.
May we re-set around what will allow anyone and everyone to rise and to shine.
May those of us who need to make peace with sharing the light, do so. Now.

Sincerely,
Tracy Simpson

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