One of my favorite songs is a rendition of Sam Cooke’s “A Change is Gonna Come,” by singer & song-writer Lauryn Hill. Whenever I listen to the song I am taken back to the solidarity of the struggle and hope for change for those who live in the struggle every day and those who choose to work to change them. In the struggle it can be easy to lose hope that anything is ever going to change, especially at the slow rate it takes to create any significant difference. In DC you especially feel this with the push and pull of politics and with the small victories achieved every so often. However, even a look at the song and the time in which it was originally recorded and released, in 1964, in comparison to the times this particular rendition was recorded, in 2009, gives reason for hope. The year 1964 was a year in the midst of the civil rights movement, the war in Vietnam; turmoil in countries all over the world, the second Vatican council of the Catholic Church, and the persecution of many human rights champions all over the world, along with many other grave injustices. It was a time of much tumult when our politicians and our policies didn’t hide much of their blatant discrimination and hate politics towards the poor and groups of color in the US or around the World. On the other hand, today, African-Americans, as well as women and other groups of color, are able to vote and take part in the wider society as equal participants, many countries around the world have instilled Democratic governments and have since worked on reconciling their historical havoc; our politicians know that policies must, at the least, reflect a sense of equality and progress and for the first time in history we have an African-American man as our President. Although we certainly have our issues, we can find hope in reminding ourselves how far we have come in just fifty years.
In my opinion, the difference in change actually taking place now seems to be in the urgency of the efforts put forth in creating that change and in our willingness to all come together in our interests to fight collectively rather than fighting as if the War on Drugs (and its argued ineffectiveness) has nothing to do with the consequences of our foreign free trade policies and our war in Afghanistan & Iraq. In his letter from Birmingham jail Martin Luther King Jr. wrote, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” This is just as true today as it was in 1963, maybe even more so with the expansion of globalization and technology. Although we face seemingly insurmountable circumstances in the world today, I cannot help but to feel hopeful that a change is not just coming but that it is underway. After this experience working in the CCAO it is difficult to deny our individual and collective power to create a world that reflects God’s will as it is done in Heaven.