by Hanna Kang-Brown, Diocese of Los Angeles
In NYC, I am surrounded by a cacophony of noise and movement. Buildings filled with people rise on all sides of the street. People rush to and fro. Cars are merging, and trucks are honking. I am surrounded by people with countless agendas, and it feels easy to feel insignificant. Yet my heart is burning and alive with the pain of women around the world, and I do not feel alone or insignificant. I'm learning that this is what social action with faith looks like. It is dynamic and ever present, painful yet hopeful, healing and renewing.
Today, I went to the opening plenary session at the UN and although I was in the overflow room next door, I was in awe that I got the opportunity to sit in that familiar room with chairs and microphones and desks lined in semi-circles. I saw African female deputies and delegates speaking with passion and conviction about ending violence towards women. I experienced what it's like to be a part of an international body, and I committed to having a global perspective and not just an American one. Even though we were in the overflow room, there were men and women lined up along the walls until there was nowhere else to stand or sit. I myself was sitting on a stairwell next to African sisters. We were packed in and you could sense the desperate delight of women willing to stake their lives on fighting for women's rights. I was reminded of the story of the lame man who was lifted down through the roof of a house where Jesus was teaching because there was no other way to get inside the packed house. The building could not contain all who wanted to sit and listen, and I yearned for all my brothers and sisters out there who want to be a part of the conversation to be allowed inside.
I never imagined that I would come to the UN as a delegate with a church. But I would not have it any other way. The faith community here is articulate and strong. I see now how faith can work with social action to breathe life into it, to give it resources and values, to provide courage, strength, and healing. I'm seeing a new way of strong female leadership here--one that is clear and present, assertive and persistent. My cup overflows.