Regular People Doing Scary Things

What’s Up with Pastor Todd 10-4-18

“Activism is about regular people doing scary things.” That’s what Ana Maria Archila told a reporter who interviewed her about her confrontation with Senator Jeff Flake in an elevator on capitol hill last week. That confrontation led to a shift in the confirmation process for Judge Brett Kavanaugh. Instead of having a Senate vote last week as planned, there has been a delay so that allegations of sexual assault against Judge Kavanaugh can be investigated by the FBI. This shift was seen as a crisis of conscience on the part of Senator Flake when directly confronted by assault survivors.

Ms. Archila is an activist. She is the co-executive director for the Center for Popular Democracy. The other woman who confronted Senator Flake, Maria Gallagher, had never engaged in any kind of activism before, but was motivated by the Kavanaugh hearings to travel to Washington to see if she could make her voice heard. Many people, including the women themselves, were surprised when their voices actually were heard, and that their voices made a difference whether Judge Kavanaugh is confirmed or not.

Ms. Archila told the story of how she and Ms. Gallagher happened to meet in the Senate offices. They were both looking for Senator Flake in hopes of sharing their stories of sexual assault with him. She talked about how both of them were scared and that neither had shared their stories publicly before. Even more than Ms. Archila, Ms. Gallagher was just a “regular person” doing something she had never done before. She was making herself vulnerable before a very powerful person. And that scary vulnerability changed him. Activism is about regular people doing scary things.

It occurred to me that church restart is also about regular people doing scary things–not nearly as scary as confronting a senator in the capitol building–but scary nevertheless. Introducing yourself to strangers can be scary. Sharing your faith can be scary. Inviting neighbors to a party can be scary. Putting yourself out there can be scary. But it’s something we all need to learn to do. We can’t just leave it to the professionals–clergy and staff. Regular people, lay people, doing scary things can have a big impact.


Author: toddyonkman

I am a husband, father, author, and Transitional Senior Minister of First Congregational Church of Granby (CT).

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