Thursday, September 4, 2008

More politics! Thoughts on community organizing

OK, I'm giving up the pretext of not being political. That's one great advantage of not being a parish priest during this election season.

I watched Sarah Palin's speech last night which I thought was quite good, well-delivered, well written, in a nasty sort of way. She made mention of how Barack Obama was just a community organizer in this dismissive sort of way. So I was pleased by this quote of the day from one of the political blogs that is now taking up my time:

"Mrs. Palin needs to be reminded that Jesus Christ was a community organizer and Pontius Pilate was a governor."

A bit of a zing! there, I thought. Of course, Our Lord might have been a bit more than a community organizer, so I thought I'd round up some others who didn't have any political experience worth having, don't you know. Martin Luther King Jr. and Mohandas Gandhi leap to mind. But who else have we got?

I'm thinking Lucretia Mott, an abolitionist and women's rights pioneer who called for the Seneca Falls convention of 1848, a pivotal moment towards securing the vote for women. But then again, she didn't do this alone. There's Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony to take into account.

Community organizing would seem to suggest many people's involvement, rather than a single charismatic leader. One of the concerns about Obama is his almost messianic appeal, something brought up again by this quotation. At the same time, it seems a bit churish to say Obama isn't qualified to lead because people want to follow him.

Let's be fair, "community organizing" doesn't immediately mean sainthood -- or sanity for that matter. But to dismiss community organizing out of hand seems a tad...elitist.

What other community organizers can you think of?


qoe said...

Correction: Mrs. Palin's speech was not of her own creation. It was crafted in advance of even her selection as running mate, and had to be modified by the authors for a woman to deliver, as it was deemed "too harsh for a woman." So we have not heard her speak for herself yet.

Kirstin said...

Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin. Jonathan Daniels. Sister Helen Prejean.

Just for starters.

qoe said...

Community organizing is about creating a movement, of people, for people, by people.