Thursday, September 10, 2015

We Shall Overcome

"Love Has the Final Word"
- Sunset at the Desert Retreat House -

This week I have been away from our Southern California Desert Retreat House, spending time with family in Washington DC. The other day, as we drove by the Capitol Building we noticed they were preparing for some sort of large gathering on the lawn - the area was cordoned off, tents were being assembled. I sort of wondered if they were starting to get ready for the upcoming visit of Pope Francis but soon discovered they were making preparations for a "Tea Party" rally that was to feature none other than the now-infamous Donald Trump along with a host of other would-be presidential hopefuls.

That rally took place yesterday afternoon - just outside the "hallowed halls of congress;" and what I found most disturbing about it wasn't what those "candidates" actually had to say so much as what was going on in the crowds of people who had assembled on the lawn for the event.

Interspersed throughout the crowd were life-size figures of President Obama that were fashioned into punching bags. Parents were lining up their small children and encouraging them to step up to the bag to "punch Obama in the face and knock him out." It was perhaps one of the most despicable things I had ever witnessed.

As I saw those lines of kids with their ridiculous parents encouraging the kids to "punch out" our first African-Amercan president,  I thought about another celebrated African American leader. I pictured Dr. King standing up there talking to the throngs of people assembled on the national mall,  proclaiming to the nation and the world that he "had a dream"  for the future of this country - a dream in which all God's children, White and Black, the children of all different religions, the children of share croppers and the children of millionaires, would one day join hands and sing "free at last" in this land of liberty and justice for all.

As I listened to the divisive, angry rhetoric of Trump and his cohorts and saw those kids on the mall using images of the president as a punching bag,  I couldn't help but wonder if Dr. King's noble dream had turned into a nightmare or was it little more than wishful thinking? And then I was filled with a sudden sense of hope.

Throughout history the forces of division and oppression have always tried to kill the power of love and compassion but somehow inevitably love has always had the final word. Over and over again forces of oppression and division have attempted to crucify love but in the end love always rises up because love is stronger than hate, or as Saint Paul once said:

In the end faith, hope and love endure
but the greatest of these is love.

The truth is that you can't kill love no matter what you do or how hard you try.  

Dr. King said something very similar when he proclaimed:

The arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.

The national mall is just blocks away from where I am writing my blog post today, and somewhere "deep in my heart" I can still hear Dr. King's words echoing as I remember something he once said just a few months before he was assassinated:

But even in the midst of chaos
I refuse to believe that humankind is so tragically bound
to the starless midnight of racism and war.
I refuse to believe that the daybreak of peace and brotherhood
can never become a reality.
I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.

Yes, I still believe that we shall overcome!


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