Lessons From Charleston

I am about ready to give up Facebook. I am a little tired of hatred that I am seeing from people, as they complain about racism, history, and other intolerant comments about liberals and conservative Christians, it seems like we have an axe to grind on things we have no control over. There is this space that has been created to connect people and we are using it to tear each other apart.

Don’t get me wrong injustice has occurred, and is occurring, but violence and hatred will not solve the past or the future. My wife and I have been on the road for 3,000 miles now, and we are on the home stretch, and I have spent many hours thinking and praying about how to handle this morass of issues that we are all dealing with. I have nothing to say to those who hate, or tell people they are now going to have to sit at the back of the table. I have nothing to say to those who want to destroy and burn. I have nothing to say to those who wear hoods and want to blow up Churches just because black people worship there. And I certainly don’t have anything to say to those who blame Christ for all of the problems of society.

Here is what I do know, and I learned it from the people of Charleston. Even though something horrible has happened the people of Charleston, local black leaders were denouncing the “public call to violence by Malik Shabazz, president of Black Lawyers for Justice.” In response to this article, and those that are calling for violent actions, a local activist, James Johnson stated, “They are more than welcome here, but take their hate home with them.”

Daniel Harrington, an editorialist for the WSJ, wrote about what he saw in Charleston, he titled the article, “What Charleston Knows: The Churchgoers of Emanuel AME know some things a secularized society does not.” He described people were upset about the “moral weakness of Dylann Roof,” but then wanted to make sure he took care of himself, and a housekeeper who gave him a hug. He also described Tee shirts that were being sold that said, “Charleston Strong: Standing as One Race.” Then there were the banners that stated, “Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity – Psalm 133:1.” But what really got me was a couple of things that Harrington said at the end of his editorial.

“Is Charleston the promised land of racial comity? Hardly. But since the shooting, many have noted the remarkable shift of conciliation in Charleston. Where did that come from? It didn’t come from their religion alone. It came from their habits of religion.” Maybe we who call ourselves Christians in this age of consumerism have lost our habits of religion?

Another comment that I think hits home, “In the North, on campuses and in sophisticated circles, we are rapidly becoming unchurched, secularized. Which raises a question: Where will a predominately secularized society learn virtue?” What a great comment, one that I have spent miles thinking about. And now that we are in a state of liberal McCarthyism, I am very concerned about what will occur in the near future.

And Harrington’s last statement that I find incredible, “Our smartphone-based politics has a way now of moving on quickly from anything that happens. But if there is a road away from hateful racial bigotry, it will require a few things. It will require politicians able to accept the possibility of racial progress. It will require a lot of people learning what the members of Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church knew long time before.”

I find Harrington’s word to be enlightening and hopeful. I for one am tired of the hateful rhetoric that is creating a polarization in our country. When did we start demonizing people who disagreed with us? I remember the 50’s wen Joseph McCarthy was the Chairperson for federal investigations of Communists in the U.S. government. Many people had their lives ruined during these investigations. This is an incredible event that polarized our country. Now it seems we are at the other end of the spectrum where we have a liberal McCarthy state, where just because someone is conservative and may not want to violate their convictions, we denigrate them and ruin their lives.

Now is the time for helpful dialog, not hateful demonization. I just may give up Facebook, because I grow tired of the hate that is being dressed up as positive social change. No thank you!

And that is my thought for the day!


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