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‘For whose sake … ?’ | Chandra Irvin, Full remarks from Spalding’s Show of Solidarity against racial injustice, June 5, 2020

Chandra Irvin, Spalding Executive Director of Peace and Spiritual Renewal

On June 5, 2020, Spalding University students, faculty and staff lined S. Fourth St. for a Show of Solidarity against racial injustice – a demonstration organized by the School of Professional Psychology. Executive Director of Peace and Spiritual Renewal Chandra Goforth Irvin delivered the following remarks to the crowd at the start of the event:

February 23: Ahmaud Arbery was killed.

March 13: Breonna Taylor was killed.

May 25: George Floyd was killed.

June 1: David McAtee was killed.

Horrific loss of lives has brought us here.

  • Urged on by a desire to honor their lives and to support their families, we have come.
  • Prompted by a sense of deep sadness, regret, perhaps guilt, we have come.
  • With weariness, anger, disgust, helplessness, the need to display some bit of courage, we have come.
  • In the search for hope unborn, we have come.
  • With a desire for unity, solidarity, wholeness, we have come.
  • As a testimony to something vital and urgent within ourselves, we have come.

It is relatively easy to point to the feeling that brought us here. But the greater question we might ponder as we stand here today is: For whose sake have I come? “For whose sake do I stand?”

You might respond, I’ve come to stand for peace, for justice, for equity, for love. But, I ask, “For whose sake do we seek equity, justice, peace, and love?  Each of us might ask, is it for my own sake? Is it for the sake of another? Is it for the children?  Is it for the sake of the Eternal?  Is it for God’s sake?

“For whose sake have I come?” It is a far-reaching question, and we would be wise to get specific with our answer—to establish a clear image in our minds. For in this public square, with like-minded people, it is relatively easy to stand for unity for love, equity, justice, and peace. But the real challenge to stand will come:

  • At the conference tables and dinner tables when black lives are being devalued or ignored
  • When we must decide to retreat or face the horrific truths of our past.
  • The challenge to stand for justice and love will come when a black person asks that you please listen, this time, or when they curse you because you won’t.
  • The real challenge to stand will come in the classrooms when the text or a colleague speaks only of the dominant cultural experience.
  • It will come in the decision to research and face horrific truths of our past we were not taught.
  • It will come in the quiet moments of curriculum development.
  • The challenge will come in the quiet moments of sermon preparation, in the decision to speak prophetically or cower to the status quo.
  • The challenge to stand will come in the decision to tolerate or to eliminate unjust laws.
  • It will come in the voting booth.
  • It will come with a decision to distinguish honest and upstanding police officers from those who are not.
  • The challenge to stand will come when we must decide whether to be true self or be subjugated by the judgments of others.
  • When we are tempted to abide passivity, fragility, self-indulgent distractions rather that demonstrate privately AND publicly that black lives matter.
  • The challenge to stand will come as we make the very first decision to be content with actions taken today or to commit to the long-term vision and WORK of creating a more just and equitable world tomorrow, and the day after tomorrow, and all of our tomorrows to come.

Whose life really matters to me? Whose quality of life matters Whose interest am I willing to stand for in any circumstance? How will they be affected by my decision to stand?

“For whose sake am I standing?” It is an earnest and searching question. For if we choose, to ponder it, we might discover a reason to sustain our vigil beyond this afternoon, a reason to persist in standing when we would rather sit down, to speak up when we are told to shut up, to stand for love, equity, justice, and peace in every opportunity.

  • Ahmaud Arbery
  • Breonna Taylor
  • George Floyd
  • David McAtee

For whose sake have they died? Perhaps it was for our sake – that we might wake up and stay “woke” to the realities of injustice, oppression, hate, and not grow weary in living out our commitment to leave a more peaceful world for future generations.

Let us continue beyond this hour to pray that in all of our decisions, and with every challenge, we might be able to stand more firmly for equity, justice, love, and peace. May the Source and Ground of Life and Love, the One whom I know as Loving God, help us.

– Chandra Goforth Irvin, MDiv, MEd, June 5, 2020
Executive Director, Center for Peace and Spiritual Renewal,
Spalding University

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