STLT#170, We Are a Gentle, Angry People

The downside of this spiritual practice is that it demands attention even on days when attention is hard to give. And more often than not, it is demanding the exact kind of attention I want to hide from on that particular day.

This song, written by Holly Near in the wake of the Harvey Milk assassination, is a call to action. It demands that we make sure everyone knows who we are and how many we are, we who will not be moved, we who are scared, and angry, and loving, and resisting.

We are a gentle, angry people,
and we are singing, singing for our lives.
We are a gentle, angry people,
and we are singing, singing for our lives.

We are a justice-seeking people…

We are young and old together…

We are a land of many colors…

We are gay and straight together….

We are a gentle, loving people…

The truth is, I’m nearly paralyzed by fear right now – it’s all coming on so many fronts, this insanity. And I am really worried that there are so many things happening we’ll miss the big one – and they’re all big ones. And worse, it seems like there is no one to hold them accountable, because they’ve stacked the decks. I know there are simple things I can do, and I know that just by refusing to accept this as normal, contacting elected officials, preaching justice, supporting boots on the ground – I know those things matter. But this is big, all that is rolling down the hill at us in speeds heretofore unmeasured. And that’s got me scared and not sleeping and a little afraid to take my eyes off the ball and even more afraid to look at the ball.

So…yeah. Holly Near’s song wants me to stop being paralyzed and get back in the game. I’m not ready. But I suppose none of us ever truly are when it matters like this.



Still scared, but …okay. What’s next?

UPDATE November 5, 2017: In a concert at the Eighth Step @ Proctors in Schnectady, NY, last night, Holly Near performed, and toward the end of the show led us in this song. We sang the first couple of verses, and then she began to speak (her words transcribed to the best of my ability – I was typing on my phone as quickly as I could once I realized what was happening):

“I wrote this song when Harvey Milk and George Moscone were assassinated. We originally sang ‘we are gay and lesbian together’ but then we were surrounded by the support of allies and so I changed it to ‘we are gay and straight together.’ And now we are learning more and more about gender and sexuality and it now requires many more syllables than I can fit into the song, and so let us now sing ‘we are all in this together.”

In that 30 second riff, she updated her lyrics to expand the circle of love that this song holds.

Thank you, Holly.

Photo is at an unnamed rally, with Holly Near and emma’s revolution, and other singers I’m not familiar with…



  1. Remember, the song says “people,” not “person.” “We,” not “I.” In many places, I have seen gentle admonitions to step back when necessary, knowing that others will step forward. From yesterday’s and today’s posts, it sounds like it might be time for you to step back for a little while and take care of yourself — read a novel, go to a movie, talk on the phone with a close friend, hang out in a coffee shop with your knitting. A little time reminding yourself that love abounds, that spring is coming, that you are a good person whether you’re on the front lines or not — that can help. I’m out here wishing you well.

    • Thank you. This brought tears of relief to my eyes… I do have a list of little tasks to be done, you know those lists that fill up a minister’s day. Some of them are fun things, too, like gather art supplies and order invitations to my ordination. I will go do those things, because they are joyful and sweet… and because there’s a call with a friend at the end of the list. Thank you for ministering to me today.

  2. Pingback: Hymn By Hymn Extra: Singing For Our Lives – Notes from the Far Fringe

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