30 Days of Love: Nicole Pressley

This week’s offerings:
a Time For All Ages by Mylo Way;
a Body Practice from Jess Hunt;
a prayer by Rev. Cecilia Kingman;
a blessing from Rev. Elizabeth Nguyen;
a Grounding Practice for Safety by Lora Powell-Haney.

Nicole Pressley, Field & Programs Director, Side With Love says:

In “Letters from a Birmingham Jail,” Rev. 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.” Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s words and context offer us an important lesson. First, that we need each other to survive. Second, we learn that when you challenge a usurped power held by the state, criminalization is a routine tactic to repress a people rising up to be free.

Today, we are experiencing a contest for power: accountable collective governance for all or power organized and held by the few. This contest is not new. To me, it is clear that a new world is emerging. As the Civil Rights movement helped usher in a new day, we are witnessing the mass mobilization and subsequent violent repression that are hallmarks of political and social transformation.

But as we are reminded in this letter, before criminalization becomes a political tactic of disconnection and domination, it is first a spiritual acquiescence to dehumanization and disposability. We deny a moral mandate of mutuality in search of the protection of power over others.

As our nation struggles to realize the promise of liberty and justice for all, it also reckons with the ways it has used oppression to construct an idea of safety that relies on the comforts of those in power. We have witnessed this in battles around integration, access to medical care for trans people, book bans, and more. This country has erased people from history, from legal recognition, and from the public square in order to secure power in a world demanding change.

The struggle for collective liberation must not be mistaken for a threat to safety. Today, we know the consequences are too great.

History teaches us what happens when we build a world around an exclusionary idea of safety. Our government carves borders, erects armies, surveils, polices, and imprisons the threat. And with each action towards this end, we make enemies of each other. We devote our resources, our labors, our art, and our children to mutual destruction. No one in this kind of world is safe.

Decriminalization is a political and spiritual project. Our work to Stop Cop City dismantles the false ideal of safety. This false ideal is destroying forests, intensifying violence against communities of color, and silencing the electorate. As people of faith, we cannot affirm the worth and dignity of all while privileging the well-being of a chosen few. We are not fully human when we separate ourselves from the humanity of others.

Decriminalization is a process of healing and (re)connection. A just and abundant concept of safety requires all of us. It proclaims a future where care and safety are abundant because our relationships are cultivated through mutuality, not domination. We act, showing up with and for communities to win campaigns and to grow a network of love, compassion and care. This is the work of community building. This is how we keep us safe.

This year’s theme is “ Imagining an Interdependent Future.”

With each new year, we move into an intentional holy time of spiritual nourishment, contemplation, and embodiment. A new year can carry with it the weight and grief of the former while inviting us into possibility and prophecy of the new. We enter 2024 witnessing unconscionable suffering and injustice at a scale that calls us all to deeply reimagine a future where we all thrive. The only way through this moment is together, bound by a commitment to our shared humanity and interdependence. 30 Days of Love offers a place to steady and stretch as we faithfully journey toward wholeness and collective liberation. Together, let us imagine our interdependent future and order our work along this path.