“They told us we wouldn’t get here, there were those who said we would only get here over their dead bodies. All the world today knows that we are here and we are standing before the forces of power in Alabama saying ‘We ain’t gonna let nobody turn us around!’” – Martin Luther King Jr, Selma to Montgomery, March 1965.
I will never know the names of the people who marched from Selma to Montgomery with Dr King and chances are you won’t either. Nor are you likely to know the names of the people who walked with Gandhi on the Salt March, yet our history and imaginations are caught by the thought of hundreds of ordinary people going to (and walking for) extraordinary lengths to fight for justice. No matter what came, nothing would move these people, and nobody could turn them around. Reference
We lose track of how difficult it is to bring about change. People understood that civil rights may actually cost them their lives.
Gordon Gibson knew the civil rights movement in the 1960s was serious when a friend said not to leave for Selma unless it was more important for him to go than it was to come back.
“I decided it was more important to go to Alabama, and we wrote our wills,” Gibson said.
He was 26 years old. Reference
Australia had it’s own Freedom Ride in 1965. It exposed endemic racism in rural Australia and “punctured Australian smugness, borne of ignorance, that racism did not exist in Australia.” (ref) While the move towards the 1967 referendum on Aboriginal equality had started shortly after Federation in 1901, the Freedom Ride must have helped people understand that racism was entrenched, not just in country towns of NSW, but in the Australian Constitution as well. There was resistance over decades, much of it vitriolic, and some resistance continues today for racism cannot be legislated away.
Change doesn’t come easily, for it threatens some people’s way of being. It is difficult for some to imagine how they will function under the innovation and so it becomes important to resist, despite understanding why it is important for many. That resistance is justified by a lifetime of living in a different paradigm. “It is my experience, don’t take it from me!” When change does come, the new reality is rarely as confronting as was expected.
The road towards women’s ordination has been difficult. Through hope and despair starting in the 1990s, and now through a growing voice protesting the silencing of debate on women’s ordination, there is an ever-increasing hope that the LCA will yet see women’s ordination.
The difference between civil rights and women’s ordination in the LCA is that while both the US and Australia are democracies and function under freedom of the press, the LCA on this matter, does not. While Pr Semmler communicates freely with membership when he wishes, the women’s ordination movement cannot even pay for an advertisement in the national magazine. Repressive regimes use this tactic throughout the world to maintain control on power through controlling communication and the national discussion. As this contravenes the LCA Constitution Pr Semmler needs to be censured.