“Justice, justice shall you pursue!”
"We are all blind, until we see, that
- in the human plan -
Nothing is worth the making,
If it does not make the man."
~ Edwin Markham
Some one hundred years ago, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. constructed the foundational maxim of public equity and just consideration. “Justice must be seen to be done as well as to be done,” he wrote. These thirteen simple words embodied the hopes and strivings of those of compassionate conscience who sought to bring an end to prejudice and particularity.
The crimes of prejudice take many forms. Some are obvious. Others, while more subtle, are equally damaging to the commonweal. Each must be responded to with equal vigour.
The Rev. Darryl Gray has been a beacon of hope and courage since coming to Montreal. Trained in, and remaining loyal to, the activist traditions of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference which the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. once led, Rev. Gray has championed the vulnerable and disenfranchised. He has given succour to the outcast and alienated. He has fought for the only causes that really count…the lost ones. In so doing he has given us all a lesson in empowerment.
Now it is time for us to help empower him. Rev. Gray is Minister at Union United, the oldest and largest black church in Quebec. The United Church Presbytery wants him to leave his pulpit, and his house, by June 30th. Their pretext? That he has not finished his Master’s degree which the Presbytery claims was a condition of his employment. Rev. Gray responds that he is more than happy to finish the Master’s, but that the only academic condition of his engagement was that he attend four to five accreditation courses. All he asks for is time.
The Presbytery has no problems with his Ministry. It acknowledges that he has made Union a vibrant and growing church. That he is well loved. That he has a remarkable intellect. As one parishioner asked, “What university did Jesus go to?” The Presbytery’s position begs the question of why now.
Could it have something to do with the fact that he has confronted the provincial government on minority rights as President of Alliance Quebec and that organization is now under attack? Could it have something to do with the fact that he has called the Montreal Police to account on issues ranging from racial profiling to the independence of coroners’ inquests? Could it have something to do with the fact that he has challenged and embarrassed the federal government on its hypocrisy and inaction on issues ranging from support for Israel to help for the devastated of Darfur?
We think it is all of this and something more. As citizens we have become too filled with a smug, self-satisfied false piety. Too complacent. Too willing to pull the best of us down to the lowest common denominator. It seems that every time an attempt is made by someone to take an institution that is ostensibly built to serve the people, and really try to make it serve the people, someone tries to stop them and someone else tries to smear them.
The politically correct mindless mediocrities that flower in such abundance among us are jealous that someone could actually think of something valuable that will challenge them to do better. We have become a people running between the raindrops; living in a society that does not dare to care; ruled by governments that can no longer tell right from wrong. In today’s degraded public mindset, too many of those who run things value subservience to the privileged over service to the put-upon.
Well, Rev. Gray dares to care. And it is time for us to be daring and stand with him. We need to demonstrate that we are not satisfied.
Not satisfied that a hero of our community can be treated in such a transparently discriminatory fashion by authority. Not satisfied with the reality that a man who has fought the tough fights because he understood, viscerally, that they are the only ones worth fighting, should be attacked at the very moment when he is once again in the midst of a very public campaign for civil rights. Not satisfied with the answer to the question that all reasonable people of goodwill are asking: why now?
We ask all of you who can, to attend services at Rev. Gray’s church this Sunday, June 12th, at 11.00 a.m. as a demonstration of solidarity with this great Montrealer. Union United is located at the corner of Atwater and Delisle just south of St. Jacques St.
Our attendance will manifest our pledge to an eternal resolve to assure that our community will be one marked by a culture of conscience. A culture where truth is not compromised by timidity; a culture where compassion triumphs over contempt; a culture where justice is never mortgaged to expediency.