Amongst the most remarkable and inspiring people who show us the ways of righteousness is Rosa Parks. I came across her name again in parker Palmer's The Courage to Teach. The people who matter in a community are those who embody, enact and embrace their convictions, and in the demonstration of a life lived well, wisely and with disturbing courage affirm their identity and integrity. So when she sat in the whites-only section of that bus over 50 years ago, Rosa Parks asserted her humanity, affirmed her identity and confirmed her integrity. Not by words, but by an action that declared "her heart's knowledge of her own humanity". Why on that day did she sit there and refuse to move?
"People always say that I didn't give up my seat because I was tired, but that isn't true. I was not tired physically, or no more tired than I usually wasat the end of a working day. I was not old, although some people have an image of meas being old then. I was forty two. No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in"
Tired of giving in. Weary of wearing the weight of the status quo. Exhausted by the tedium and tyrranny of laws formed by imprisoned minds, intended to imprison the minds and hearts of others. By the simple act of sitting, Rosa Parks defied an entire mindset, challenged a racist worldview, embodied a protest against inhumanity by placing her human body in the way of harm and witnessing to the value, dignity and equality of each human being.
Now it would be easy enough to identify in our time those social practices and political policies, those economic decisions and legal impositions that diminish, devalue and demonise others. But instead of doing that simply the question, what have we too long given in to? Put up with? Culpably tolerated? Too easily accepted? And will we reach the stage where we are tired of giving in to institutional and unchallenged injuistice? What is our equivalent of sitting in the wrong place in the segregated bus? That I think might be a missiological question, and one the churches of Jesus Christ could do worse than address - and then find the place where we are called to sit.