Perhaps I can best explain why I knowingly chose to break the
law by recalling a conversation I had with my 7-year-old daughter
before she left for school on the morning of December 7.
Kietrie, there is a chance I will not be able to pick
you and your sister up from school this afternoon, and there is
a chance I will have to spend the night at the D.C. jail tonight.
Why, mommy, what did you do wrong?
Well, Kietrie, as you know, most laws are made to help
people and to protect people. Can you think of such a law?
Yes, like wearing seat belts or like not killing
Good thinking. Can you think of a law that hurt people?
Yes, like the laws that kept black people from
eating in any restaurant they wanted to or the laws that hurt
Jewish people in Germany.
Those are good examples. Well, our country is in the
process of making a budget, which is like a law in that it will
affect many people's lives. I feel very deeply that this budget
will hurt poor people. So today I am going to go with some friends
to the place where they make the laws in this country. We are
going to gather and pray in a place where we are not supposed
to gather and pray.
We hope to get the attention of the people who make
the laws. We feel it is important that we get their attention,
because if they do not hear this message, more and more people
who are vulnerable will suffer in the years to come.
But mommy, why would the people who make the laws
even think of making laws that could hurt poor people?
Some of the people who make the laws may not really
understand what it is like to be poor. And some of them probably
genuinely believe that the cuts will help people who are poor
make healthier choices for their lives. Others who make the laws
represent a hardening of hearts in our country toward those Jesus
called the least of these.
Mommy, will they kill you for breaking the law?
Are you worried that I might not come home?
Why wouldn't they kill you? Martin Luther King
broke laws that hurt people and he got killed.
Kietrie, we live in a country where there is some freedom
to speak out against our government. We are very blessed in that
way. And sometimes it is necessary to speak out against laws that
hurt people by breaking the law. But we must never, ever, ever
hurt anyone while we are speaking out for what we believe.
Killian Noe is program director at Samaritan Inns and co-pastor
of Lazarus House Church in Washington, D.C.