I’m sorry if this post depresses, discourages, or disturbs you. It’s not my intent but a reminder of the arduous work ahead for all of us.
It’s the day after…
The day after this nation (and many in the global community) celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. We march, share inspiring quotes, and listen to compelling speeches.
It’s a feel good day.
But today is the day after – and the awareness of reality. A reality of certainly a better world from the days of Rosa Park and Dr. King but a reminder of the long road ahead. Oh,we have a long way to go. Anyone that wonders if racism still exists in America simply need to look at our incarceration and education system. Broken would be an understatement.
But it’s not just merely an issue of race or more specifically, Black and White. Rather, it’s about the larger issue of Strong vs. Weak. Perhaps, it’s always been about this dichotomy and it gets played out via the arenas of race, class, economics, gender, age, orientation, etc.
The question for us – as human beings – and especially as people after the heart of God as Christians is to not merely understand the heart of God but to pursue and do the heart of God.
I often wonder if those that are so eager to celebrate and applaud Dr. King actually read the same Bible that Rev. Dr. King read.
By this, I mean, do we understand how on so many occasions, God conveys His fierce passion for the widows, the orphans, the poor, the weak, the sick, the exploited, etc. Do we know that God takes sides?
We might not like it. We might not agree with the politics. We might want to hide from it. We might want to spiritualize it. We might want to theologize it, disneyize it…but this I know from reading the Bible and following the life of Jesus:
God takes sides of the weak
I know some of you will disagree with my usage of the word ‘weak.’ There’s something undignified about labeling people as weak and I agree but semantics and language aside, I guess that’s what I mean: We live in an unjust, unfair, and broken world where there are distinctions of strong and weak and the weak after often, if not always, exploited on some level or another. Why? Because we can.
One of the more compelling verses from the Scriptures that inform and transform my world view comes from Psalm 82:3-4
Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed. Rescue the weak and the needy…
Two stories – an article and a video – recently came to my attention. I’m aware there’s always many angles to a story but for me, they are stories and example of the strong destroying the weak. I’m not sharing these stories because the weak in these stories are Asian and as such, trying to elevate Asian plight. Nope, my point is much broader: Strong vs. Weak.
If there’s one thing you’ll read this month, I want to humbly suggest you read this article from the New York Magazine. It is a feature and the story of Private Danny Chen (1992-2011) – “He was 19 yars old, a scrawny six-four, and wanted nothing more than to join the Army…”
But things got bad:
The eight men later charged in connection with his death are all white and range in age from 24 to 35; they include one lieutenant, two staff sergeants, three sergeants, and two specialists. Members of this group allegedly harassed and humiliated Chen from almost the day he arrived at The Palace. They belittled him with racial slurs. They forced him to do push-ups with a mouthful of water, refusing to let him swallow or spit any out. And, on September 27, a sergeant allegedly yanked him out of bed and dragged him across about 50 yards of gravel toward a shower trailer as punishment for supposedly breaking the hot-water pump. He endured bruises and cuts on his back. Army officials told Chen’s family that although the leader of his platoon found out about this incident, he never reported it as he was required to. [read full article]
Read it. I dare you. I challenge. Please, I invite you. I don’t know what more to write but to share sadness and pain for the lost life of Danny Chen, the desolation of his parents, and the heinous behavior of those in power who preyed on his ‘weakness.’
Desolation for others who are bullied, beaten, and belittled – simply because they are “weaker” – however defined.
And then yesterday, I saw this YouTube video entitled, “Helpless Asian man attacked and jumped by 7 others behind school.” Apparently, this took place this past week in Chicago. I know that there’s always some context that’s missing but what I see is the (physically) strong attacking the weak and it is absolutely sickening and disgusting. If you watch this video, be warned of the extreme violence and language.
It’s the day after…and I’m discouraged. The world is so fallen and broken. Like, really broken. And so perhaps, this quote again from Dr. King is especially appropriate for “the days after”…
“When our days become dreary with low hovering clouds of despair, and when our nights become darker than a thousand midnights, let us remember that there is a creative force in this universe, working to pull down the gigantic mountains of evil, a power that is able to make a way out of no way and transform dark yesterdays into bright tomorrows. Let us realize the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.”
Yes, the feel good fuzziness of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is over. I’m reminded of the work before us – the work of mercy, justice, and humility; the work of reconciliation and restoration. The work of defending, rescuing, and fighting for the weak – and this work to be done with dignity.
We’ve got work ahead and so, I share a prayer once prayed by Dr. King with you all:
Most Gracious and all wise God, Before whose face the generations rise and fall, Thou in whom we live, and move, and have our being. We thank thee for all of thy good and gracious gifts, for life and for health, for food and for raiment, for the beauties of nature and the love of human nature. We come before thee painfully aware of our inadequacies and shortcomings. We realize that we stand surrounded with the mountains of love and we deliberately dwell in the valley of hate. We stand amid the forces of truth and deliberately lie, We are forever offered the high road and yet we choose to travel the low road. For these sins O God forgive. Break the spell of that which blinds our minds. Purify our hearts that we may see thee O God in these turbulent day when fear and doubt are mounting high give us broad visions, penetrating eys, and power of endurance. Help us to work with rewed vigor for a warless world, for a better distribution of wealth, and for a brotherhood that transcends race or color. In the name and spirit of Jesus we pray. Amen.
If you’re reading this and read this far:
Thanks for your life, your work, and your commitment to the whole Gospel including: “Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed. Rescue the weak and the needy.” – and Let’s Do it With Dignity.