Why I support CUPE
First, let me be clear: this is my opinion, and yes I realize that I have the 'power of the pulpit' to express my opinion. I try to use that power with care.
Second, let me also be clear that the decision to offer space at Sackville United Church to CUPE was made by the Executive of Sackville United Church. Yes, the Executive had to make a rapid decision but, the decision was made, grounded in our mission to be a "church family, sharing God’s unconditional love through learning, worship, and action."
So, why do I support CUPE?
I support CUPE because I benefited as a child from my father's engagement with the Letter Carrier's Union and their negotiated collective agreements. Because of the efforts of that union, I benefited from the medical coverage that enabled me to get a hearing aid so I could hear and get orthodontic treatment, so I could smile with straightened teeth, and speech therapy so I could speak more clearly. Because of the efforts of the Letter Carriers Union my parents have been able to build a comfortable life and contribute in meaningful ways to the larger community.
Unions contribute to the building of a more just and equitable world. Unions protect the rights of workers who are oftentimes vulnerable to powerful organizations. Unions serve to build community on shared values such as cooperation and fairness.
So, yes, the honking horns and crowds of people on the street corners can be a nuisance - but consider the alternative: an economy where the powerful get to dictate the terms of employment, a society in which medical care is beyond the reach of the average household.
The yellow clenched fist signs that CUPE members and their families are carrying as they walk, these are not signs of violence, they are symbols of solidarity - reminding them and us, that we are stronger together than we are apart, that there is strength in unity!
Seems to me that there was once a wandering Jewish preacher who offered a similar message - and after he turned over the tables of the money changers in the temple, he called people to a hillside, reminded them that they we blessed and then invited them to feed each other with words such as these ringing in their ears:
Blessed are you as you walk together, for only together will we all be made whole. Blessed are those who go unnoticed. The teacher's aides who watch over the school lunch room. The laundry guys at the hospital. Blessed are the losers and the babies and the parts of ourselves that are so small. The parts of ourselves that don't want to make eye contact with a world that only loves the winners. Blessed are the forgotten. Blessed are the closeted. Blessed are the unemployed, the unimpressive, the under-employed, the underrepresented. Blessed are the meek. You are of heaven and Jesus blesses you. "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness and work toward justice, for they will be filled."
~ adapted from a sermon by Nadia Bolz-Weber
Blessed are you - all of you - all of us.
Let us walk in the Way of Jesus and proclaim loudly and boldly: none of us are saved until we are all saved, none of us are whole until all of us are whole.
May it be so. Amen.