I wonder if she is weeping today? I confess – I am. Surely Katharine Bates, who wrote “America the Beautiful”, must be mourning what is happening in her “alabaster cities gleaming” – the cities she memorialized in her 1895 song lyrics. I know I am – grieving that is.
Why am I weeping over places I have never been and will never visit? I am crying for people I have never met and likely never will. Why am I so inexplicably sad? It is not my city burned down, my business gone, my job gone because the store where I worked is no longer there. It is not my once beautiful park now unrecognizable, my magnificent/miracle mile now marred, my church defaced, my city streets once full of families out to enjoy a summer evening now full of angry, armed, assailants daring anyone to defy them.
So why am I so deeply despondent over this rising tide of violence? After all, it hasn’t come to my family, to my house, to my door – well, not yet. Maybe it’s because I can’t escape the truth of these words from the song “No Man is an Island” – “Each man’s joy is joy to me, Each man’s grief is my own. . . . I will defend, Each man as my brother, Each man as my friend. . . . We all look to the One above, For our strength to renew.”
I can’t escape the truth of these words. Harm to my fellow Americans is harm to me, it is harm to us all. What we have witnessed across our country and in our streets at the hands of BLM is deception, deception designed to distract us, to divide us and to destroy our cities, our freedoms and our lives. Any message has long been lost in the mayhem their violence creates.
This is particularly ironic at this moment in history, as the fifty-seventh anniversary of The March on Washington was yesterday. It was there Dr. King gave his famous “I have a dream” speech, words still resonating and relevant today. I also find these words from Dr. King’s 1964 Nobel Prize lecture to be words as relevant today as they were then. Dr. King stated regarding violence,
“Violence as a way of achieving racial justice is both impractical and immoral. . . . violence never brings permanent peace. It solves no social problem: Violence is immoral because it thrives on hatred rather than love. It destroys community and makes brotherhood impossible. It creates bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers.” In contrast Dr. King said of nonviolence,
“It seeks to secure moral ends through moral means. Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon. Indeed, it is a weapon unique in history, which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it.”
That explains so much of Dr. King’s legacy. They didn’t burn the buses, they boycotted them. The economic impact dealt the blow and achieved their goal. They didn’t destroy the lunch counters they wished to sit at, they sat until laws changed to right that wrong. The goal was achieved with the stores still standing.
I am reminded of these words in 1 Peter 2:12, which exemplify Dr. King’s approach to bringing about change and securing justice, which instruct us to –
“Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day He visits us.”
Win a victory by doing what is right, not what is wrong. It takes courage and compassion to stand up for the oppressed, to speak out for what is right. It requires no courage to shout profanity, to throw a brick, to spray paint a monument, to loot a store, to burn a building, to vandalize other people’s property, to violently attack people – no courage is needed for any of these actions. That would explain why most of this activity takes place after dark, perpetrated by masked and hooded individuals, secure in their anonymity as part of a nameless, faceless mob.
Darkness is the cover of cowards. Striking parallels to the actions of the KKK make the actions of BLM all the more ironic. I thought they were against oppression and for justice. But their tactics are oppressive and there is nothing just about their actions, including destroying other people’s property or livelihoods, which include black owned businesses and neighborhoods. There is nothing just about looting/stealing from the vandalized stores and calling it “reparations.” Crime is crime no matter what name you give to it.
This is clearly injustice masquerading as justice. Isaiah had something to say about that in Isaiah 5:20 & 23, when he cried out,
“Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. Woe to those . . . who acquit the guilty for a bribe, but deny justice to the innocent.”
Woe indeed! In this moment when the deeds of darkness, the deeds of lawlessness, of oppression and of injustice seem to surround us all – I hang onto the promise in Psalm 30:5 which says,
“weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.”
“The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not overcome it.”(John 1:5)
We can each do as Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:16, ” . . . let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”
After all, Jesus told us, “You are the light of the world.” (Matthew 5:14)
This dark world needs some light right about now, so we must be that city on a hill providing God’s light in this dark time.
sincerely, Grace Day