The Power of “No”

For the past couple of years, I’ve taken part in a silent protest against the outdated, racist, inefficient, all around poorly constructed Alabama State Constitution.  The activity is quite simple and, at least according to this article, can affect change.  In Alabama, many governmental activities that shoud be accomplished local level, require amendments to the State Constitution. For example, a small municipality outside of Decatur was trying to amend its storm water sewage fees and the ENTIRE STATE had to vote on a constitutional amendment to make it happen. Proponents of a new constitution have vowed to vote “no” to every proposed amendment. The effect, over time, is to cripple local governments who in turn put pressure on the State to rewrite the constitution. The “gum up the works” plan worked in Louisiana, but the problem here is that there is often one amendment that, for reasons of justice, just has to be approved (eg. removing a prohibiton on interracial marriage from a few years ago).
Recently, The Rev. Scott Gunn, Executive Director of Foward Movement and Clerical Deputy from Rhode Island, suggested a similar strategy to affect change in the way General Convention does business. His hope is to reform General Conevention such that it deals with the business of the Church rather than spend time dealing with political issues that are beyond the scope of our authority: eg. drought in the Horn of Africa, the use of drones in warfare, etc. In light of my silent protest as a voter in Alabama, I find myself drawn to Father Scott’s strategy, but as in Alabama, there are some things that hit close to home and beg for an amended “gum up the works” strategy.
It hit home for me yesterday as I got to resolution A019: Continue Advocacy for Peace in Sudan. You might recall that I co-sponsored a resolution to our Diocesan Convention while St. Paul’s hosted Bishop Andudu from Kadugli, The Episcopal Church of Sudan. Do I vote no on A019? Do I ignore my new strategy just this once? Or, do I recognize that this has been dealt with at General Conventions prior, at the Execitve Council, Diocesan Conventions and instead of again making a hollow gesture, actually do something to advocate for peace in the Sudan?
My Rector wisely suggested the latter.
So, there you have it. I’m using the power of my “no” for the bigger picture by taking a stand to reform General Convention as a Council of the Church rather than an impotent political lobby.
If you are a Deputy to General Convention, I hope you will join this movement and remember the power of “no.”


3 thoughts on “The Power of “No”

    • Racism isn’t key to my argument, though if you read the article linked in this post, you’ll see that the 1901 Constitution of Alabama is very much a racist document.

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