I’ve been writing these essays for awhile now, religiously submitting them every two weeks, but I missed my deadline completely on January 17. I suppose I could blame it on Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday, but for the first time in several years, I was not out early to enjoy a Unity prayer breakfast.
My husband, whose work only shuts down for Thanksgiving and Christmas, had worked over the weekend and had Monday off too. Instead of fostering better racial relations in the community or attending a parade in the surrounding area, we cleaned out our garage.
It took all morning. “Are you ever going to use this again?” “How much is this worth?” “What is this?” Once motivated to de-clutter, David’s enthusiasm borders on obsession. No, it is an obsession. Which is why I insinuated myself into the process. Otherwise, the cradle my father made for our first child (the one with the broken piece we haven’t seen in years) would have very possibly ended up on the discard pile. (“But we don’t need this!”)
The afternoon was spent, on a computer just slighter younger than I am and with less-than-lightning-speed Internet service, posting items to sell on craigslist.com and monitoring e-mail from potential (and gratifyingly numerous) buyers.
Later in the week, when a black gentleman navigated the adventurous road leading to our house in order to pick up one of the freebies (a punching bag formerly used for anger management) I thought about the Big Picture as it related to Monday’s national holiday.
Our home, far off the main road, is in a predominately black section of the county. At least for several square miles, we represent the minority. We’ve never had a problem, never felt unwelcome, never been threatened or ostracized. How different might our experience have been had we lived prior to Dr. King and the civil rights movement and had we been a black family moving into a predominately white area?
Sometimes, because prejudice, fear, hate, and anger can still be passed on to children regardless of changes in law and public policy, we forget how far our country as come. And because the United States is a relatively young nation, we lack the historical perspective older world powers possess.
To China, India, Europe, 148 years is a drop in the proverbial bucket. That’s how long it has been, though, since Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation freed slaves in America. The Civil Rights movement came a hundred years later – I’m older than it is.
And yet, in this relatively short period of history, so much of the nation’s ugliness has been eliminated. Jim Crow laws that seem now so ridiculous, so small-minded and stupid, are extinct. Dr. King didn’t do it himself, of course. He was joined by others, blacks and whites who were raised up at a crucial time for a crucial purpose, but his was the voice that unified their concerns and translated them for the rest of the world.
God has always seemed to prefer raising up one individual to prove himself strong on the behalf of many. Esther was a foreign queen who risked her life to save the Jews. Paul was transformed from a hunter of Christians to a teacher of Christians. C.T. Studd left his homeland and wealth to spread the gospel. Billy Graham saw his vision for taking a simple message to the world fulfilled.
God chooses, the word says, “the low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are, so that no one might boast” (1 Corinthians 1:28-29). He chooses those who are, by others’ standards, weak and foolish, young and inexperienced. Low and despised.
Young and foolish? Sounds like a lot of folks I know. Weak? Sounds like me. Made available to God’s will and empowered by the Holy Spirit, however, he can do wonders through anyone.
Permission to reprint with acknowledgement of source.