Our Small Part

written by Martha and Ray Phillips of St. Paul's UCC in Rio Rancho, NM:

In the past two weeks, we have participated in a teach-in at the Roundhouse in Santa Fe, stood by ourselves with signs at three locations in Albuquerque and Rio Rancho, driven to Phoenix to join a emonstration (including St. Paul's own Gordon Nelson, who met us there) outside the ICE headquarters, and joined with many others (including Rev. Jocelyn Emerson) at Senator Martin Heinrich's rally in Albuquerque.

Why are we doing this? Because "He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?"  Micah 6:8

At three events we were small parts of large gatherings. We did not have a loud voice. But these were deeply satisfying events that filled us with hope, that we could share with other like-minded people, and that attracted news coverage. These gatherings were large because others like us wanted to be a part of something bigger. But those events were very safe. They were easy to attend and there was no feeling of being threatened.

At three times we were the only ones. An older white couple in a place we don't normally belong. People driving by, some to an ICE facility or an immigration office, to work, or just home after work, saw us and for a moment at least were aware that somebody is making a statement in support of immigrants. Neither of us had ever done this before.  Standing by ourselves as close to an ICE facility as we dared, expressing our outrage, and accusing our federal immigration authorities of human rights abuses was not easy. But we knew our risk was small. 

We had one opportunity to interact with a person having a much different perspective. He told us it would be a much better investment of our time if we learned the truth about border security and how immigrants are being treated. We had a civil conversation. He was absolutely right that we don't know all we should but he was absolutely wrong that we don't know enough to begin taking action to voice and show our opposition. It also became clear that he did not know even the basics of the law and policies about refugees and asylum seekers. Still, we need more dialog between people having different opinions. We all need to be better informed. I have to give him credit for coming to us to have that conversation.

We are comfortably safe in our retirement. We are white and educated. We are privileged in ways we only partly recognize. It is our obligation to speak out for those who are not comfortably safe, who are being treated unjustly, who are our brothers and sisters. And we will stand on the street, alone if necessary.

We attended a song leadership workshop at an Episcopal church in Albuquerque led by two talented women of 7th Wave Music giving us "Tools for Adding Your Voice to the Resistance." 

Here are the lyrics to one of the songs:

Somebody's hurtin' my brother, and it's gone on FAR TOO LONG.

And it's gone on FAR TOO LONG.

Yes, it's gone on FAR TOO LONG.

Somebody's hurtin' my brother, and it's gone on FAR TOO LONG


repeat using "sister" "children" "neighbor"


Another goes like this:

I'm gonna lift my sister up, she is not heavy.

I'm gonna lift my sister up, she is not heavy.

I'm gonna lift my sister up, she is not heavy.

If I don't lift her up,

If I don't lift her up,

If I don't lift her up,

I will fall down.

We have decided that we won't be silent when injustice is taking place and we will not fall down.