Archived: Weekly Message from T. J.

The Struggle Is Real

Friends, you may know that for the last few weeks members of this community have been taking part in planning an event to participate in the national movement of the Poor People’s Campaign. Through organizing meetings, though discussions, and through some laughter and fear, we are approaching a crystallized action that will put the voices that power structures seek to silence in front of all to see. In the next few hours (or next few days at the latest) you will see the movement here on this island join the national movement to combat these oppressive forces with a renewed sense of morality.

As part of the legwork of planning this event, I have been visiting locations that grant use of their space to community organizations from time to time. And as I entered one office building for this purpose, I met a gentleman there working as a security guard. After talking a little about the office I was looking for we started talking about how long we’d both been on the island. We both laughed and smiled thinking about what a beautiful place it is to live.

But then he mentioned to me that it isn’t cheap to live in a place like this. I asked him to tell me more about that. Even through his smile, he told me about the two jobs he works. He kind of laughed off the less than a handful of hours of sleep he gets in a night. He shrugged when he mentioned a third job he also does on the weekends. I listened and returned his kind smile. But I was left wondering what kind of strain this work is on him and his family. I shook his hand and thanked him for speaking with me.

This morning, I was on a run with a neighbor and friend. I was talking about some of the work our group of dedicated individuals has been doing, when a face, almost imperceptible, caught by attention. It looked a lot like a friend of mine, one I’d met through another friend here, though briefly. But the gaunt face hiding under a shirt wrapped around his head hardly looked like my friend at all anymore. I hadn’t heard from him in a while, and his sunken eyes and wasting frame told me why. It had been months since we cheered together when Bon Jovi’s Wanted Dead or Alive came on the radio—when without thinking, we sang the entire song together at the top of our lungs with the windows down and the breeze whipping through the car, carrying our cries off with the Manoa winds. Those months were not kind months.

The voices of those locked in struggle are real and must be heard. For some it is a struggle with making impossible ends meet. For others it might literally be a struggle between not wanting to live but not wanting to die. But lofted on the winds of the change we hope to see in the world are these voices. And as we enter the final stages of planning the action we will coordinate with the national Poor People’s Campaign, may we all hold close to our hearts those struggles we know ourselves and those struggles we know others face daily…but may we pray these struggles will not ever be so.

Blessings, my friends. And stay tuned…

Rev. T. J.
minister@unitariansofhi.org