Mock, Executive Secretary, Home Mission Board, National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc.
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On the eve of Christina Green’s funeral service President Obama addressed a crowd of nearly thirty thousand citizens from our nation, mostly of whom were citizens of Tucson, Arizona. His sermonic, memorial message was one that would cause the greatest eulogists to shake their heads in utter amazement. Preachers, especially, are taught that a great eulogy comforts members of the immediate family; and, begins a healing process for family, friends and members at large that were directly or indirectly impacted by a death. Just as important, a great eulogy seeks to inspire fresh resolve in the lives of one and all. For the above reasons and much more, President Obama’s message was inspirational.
I could not help in my reflection over his memorial message to think about it within the larger context of our celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Junior’s national memorial celebration which at this writing is but a week away from President Obama’s memorial message.
Dr. King reminded us in his I Have a Dream speech that our nation must seek a new direction based on a new conscience about who we are as a constitution-centered citizenry. Dr. King reminded us a new direction has to be one in which the senseless violence of the dark age of racism and segregation must give way to a new age of peaceful relations and discourse.
The dark age of Jim Crow in all its segregation-centered realities had its roots in words, ideas, and conceptual frameworks that collectively gave birth to harmful ideologies. These harmful ideologies pitted ethnic groups and races against each other. Peoples’ words became bullet-like, maiming and leaving deep-seated rage in the minds of some and evil plans in the heart of others. Unresolved rage and evil plans conspired, as we all know, to bring about senseless acts of brutality and the assassination of some of our nation’s greatest leaders.
The bullets that killed 6 Americans on January 8th in Tucson, Arizona were fired from a gun held by a man whose words were senseless. Whether his senseless words will be supplemented by meaninglessness will be determined by us. Meaning can come out of meaninglessness whenever a person or a people decide to make it happen. We cannot stop certain things from happening. We can, however, determine what meaning will come forth from meaningless acts that can make us a better people.
Nine year old Christina Green can become for our nation one of many poster-children whose hopes and dreams need not die with her death. Christina and the other five persons who died can become sources of inspiration for the resurrection of values that have fallen by the way side--values that create a climate for hope and a culture of fresh aspirations and dreams. Is not this one of the reasons we remember and honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Junior?
Dr. King tried to open consciences to the dreams that had impregnated the minds and hearts of persons created in the image of God and endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights. Among those constitution-centered rights are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Dr. King lifted up the constitution and challenged each American to open his or her heart to the social and economic implications of these truths.
President Obama challenged each American in his memorial message to open his or her mind to the possibility of bettering our human relations for the sake of new dreams for our cities, communities, families, and those different than ourselves. We know how important this is in a day of bullying taking place from the national oval office to the local work office.
President Obama challenged us Americans to open our eyes, to widen them to see better the many opportunities before us for sacrificial public office, even at the level of elementary school exemplified by a 9/11 baby, Christina Green, who served her student council at her school.
In closing, President Obama said he learned from Congresswoman Giffords’ husband Mark Kelly that his wife knew “that we’re here, and she knows we love her and she knows that we will be rooting for her throughout what will be a difficult journey.” Someone needs to know that we also are here.
We must let our children and others know that we, too, are here for them, love them and are rooting for them throughout their difficult journey toward the fulfillment of their dreams to make a difference. We will be true to our words when we open our own eyes and hearts to the constitutional truth that we all are created equal and endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights.
Whether it’s the words of Jim Crow or those of Jared Loughner, we are to be reminded daily of the power of words. Like elections words are never neutral. Words, like bullets fired from a gun, when fired from ones mouth can result in violence, killing the dreams of innocent people, especially our children’s dreams, imagination and excitement about a future in which they will have the opportunity to make a difference.
If Congresswoman Giffords can fight off death to open her eyes, I trust we will follow her inspirational example. Perhaps we will come to see that violence must give way to a new direction and a new conscience that leads to victorious living for each of us.