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The Rev. Jacqueline J. Lewis, Ph.D. Headshot

We Are The Ones

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There are times when my heart breaks wide open at the state of our nation. My tears fall for the couple that camp each night on the futon outside my apartment building. I cry for the woman in my church who can't yet retire but also can't find a job. I weep for the gay people around our nation who can't marry their beloved and who are told by their churches that they are sinners. I grieve about the delusion that we are post-racial, when, frankly, the color of our President's skin makes it difficult for him to lead. I am angry about the gap between the haves and the have-nots.

As we celebrate Independence Day, I am wondering, why is it so? Surely, there are enough resources in our land so that everyone can have enough.

My heart also breaks because working for justice is difficult and sometimes lonely work.

But here is the thing: begin where you are to make a difference. My friend Tituss Burgess is a songwriter and a Broadway actor. Earlier this year, I referenced a closing line from June Jordan's "Poem for South African Women"-- "We are the ones we have been waiting for." Tituss made an impact with what he knew best. He wrote a song, "We Are The Ones"--

I sat back waiting, anticipating at some point, change would begin. And then it hit me I was what was missing: my weight was dead that's why we couldn't move ahead. So no more delays, it all ends today. It don't have to be so heavy if we'll pull our weight. You and I are the ones we've been waiting for. You and I thought this was somebody else's war. You and I are the ones we've been waiting for.

He offers the song and nine others in the album Welcome as a way to begin where he is, and to raise money for hunger programs, for LGBTI ministries, and for racial justice work that happens in New York City through Middle Collegiate Church.

When one person begins to contribute, others watch. Film maker Shari Carpenter witnessed Tituss sing in church. She was so moved by his song that she volunteered to direct a music video that shares the message of the song in images. In faith communities, working for justice does not need to be lonely work.

Perhaps you are waiting, hoping that someone else can make it better, because you don't know where to begin.

As we celebrate our nation's independence, let this be our call to action and service. Do one thing today to lighten someone's burden. Take that guy on the street to get a sandwich. Mow your older neighbor's lawn. Share this music with a friend; purchase it and help do justice in New York City. We start where we are. We are the ones.