My Speech at the Somos Georgia Rally

POlice reports estimate between 8,000 to 14,000 people attended the Somos Georgia Rally and March scheduled on July 2 here in Atlanta, Georgia…

Here’s what I said:

I’m going to say something right now, and you give me a shout out if you know what I’m talking about: THE GOLDEN RULE: Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.

We all know it. It’s what basic compassion looks like. And we find the call to compassion everywhere, in all the religions of the world. We find it in Judaism. We find it in Islam. We find it in Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity, and in my home tradition of Unitarian Universalism.

But I’m wondering about something. I’m wondering if the Golden Rule is alive and well in America today and especially here in Georgia. I‘m really wondering about that.

How this country and this state treat undocumented immigrants breaks our hearts. Undocumented immigrants work hard and help our Georgia companies succeed; they pay taxes; they pay rent, they buy homes, they purchase gas and groceries and goods of all kinds; they are integral parts of the communities in which we live. They are people with human rights, and God made them good.

But in America there’s always been suspicion of so-called outsiders. There’s always been a pattern of fear, in which the Golden Rule gets thrown out on its ear, and some group living among us becomes an easy target and a convenient scapegoat for problems that are bigger than any one group, problems that in truth come from centers of power like Wall Street or Big Business or the Old Boy’s Network, and these centers of power are like Teflon, hard to touch, can’t touch them. So what do Americans do? They take out their frustrations on the powerless. They beat up on the voiceless. They think that problems with our economy or problems in our families or problems in our schools or other problems are automatically gonna get solved by dividing Americans between who’s legal and who’s illegal…. And that’s fear-based logic. The sort of logic that causes our Governor to sign HB 87 into law and then all of sudden he’s shocked that our farms are in crisis and crops are out in the fields, rotting. But that’s fear-based logic for you!

Many of you know about the federal law known as 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. This federal law has been on the books since 1996 and was beefed up after 9/11. It’s supposed to make our communities safer. Defend against terrorists. More than 70 police jurisdictions around the country (including Cobb, Gwinnett, Hall, and Whitfield counties here in Georgia) have signed on. But let me ask you, are you feeing any safer? No way! We’re going backwards, not forwards. More fear-based logic. What the record shows is abuse and the opposite of compassion. Federal law opening the door to police judging people by what they look like, by the color of their skin, their accent, the music they listen to. I call that racial profiling. And federal law has opened the door. Federal law, saying it’s OK to burden law enforcement with doing this, leading to a breakdown in any trust whatsoever that the Hispanic community might have had in the police.

Martin Luther King Jr. once said that “Men often hate each other because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don’t know each other; they don’t know each other because they cannot communicate; they cannot communicate because they are separated.” I call this horrible, terrible…. But existing federal law puts us right there.

Are we gonna sit back and let this happen?

Now I know we just saw key provisions in Georgia’s own anti-immigration law blocked. Unfortunately the whole law wasn’t stopped but we’re all glad that Judge Thrash threw out the legality of police to question people about their immigration status as well as the right of police to arrest those who knowingly harbor or transport undocumented immigrants. We’re all glad about this, but it only goes so far. Judge Thrash’s ruling doesn’t even touch what federal law is doing…. And supporters of state law are working like crazy to get Judge Thrash’s decision overturned on appeal.

This journey we’re on is not over by a long shot. We need to transform hearts here in Georgia and in America. That’s the journey before us. Brings to mind a song we Unitarian Universalists sing, called Woyaya: “It will be hard we know, and the road will be muddy and rough, but we will get there, heaven knows how we will get there, but we know we will.”

Do you believe?

We WILL get there.

“The moral test of government,” said statesman Hubert Humphrey, “is how the government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; and those who are in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy, and the handicapped.” To this list add our undocumented immigrant brothers and sisters. They (we) are in the shadows of life also. Government’s proper job and our job is to love them and not to bully them, not to split families apart, not to prevent them from ever experiencing the American Dream for themselves… Our job is love. God made ALL PEOPLE good, not just some….

It’s the Golden Rule. Simple as that. Comes to us from every world religion. And it’s calling us today, calling us all to be Golden in America, and Golden in Georgia. Let us be Golden!


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