Why? Because of the injustice we share. His because of his race, mine because of my gender. He was jailed and ultimately killed physically because of his (right) beliefs and actions. I have been 'jailed' (silenced, shunned) because of my (right) beliefs and actions. I'm not putting myself on the same plane as MLK, Jr. But, I can definitely relate.
The article I read listed some things that always seem to go along with the fight against injustice:
The Bible is declared "clear" on a matter to oppose any challenge to the status quo.
Those disrupting social norms are said to be threatening the peace and Christian unity.
Sympathy may be expressed for the plight of the oppressed, but their methods of protest are criticized as “disruptive” or “uncivil.”
Civil rights are opposed on the grounds of religious freedom.
Those calling attention to systemic injustice are accused of inciting tensions rather than simply calling them out.
How many times have I been told that the Bible 'clearly' states that my challenge to the status quo is sinful/wrong?Deaths are justified because the dead brought it on themselves by committing some infraction. (I'm thinking here of the similarity between justifications for lynchings in the past and justifications for police brutality in the present.)
How many times have I been said to be disruptive, uncivil, a troublemaker, 'uppity' even?
How many times have people said to me that although they are with me and see the wrong that has been done to me, they don't agree with coming out and taking a stand against those injustices done to me/the bad behavior that has hurt me/our family...and they remain silent?
How many times have I been accused of being bitter and 'airing my dirty laundry' and causing strife rather than simply calling out injustices so that they can be dealt with? (Do these people not know that strife already exists and I'm not the cause of it?...Oh, they know...they just don't want to be bothered with knowledge of injustice...they just want everyone to put on a happy face instead of actually being authentic and honest...they don't want to be bothered with cries for help.)
How many times have I been blamed for a sin committed against me?
Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote in his famous "Letter From a Birmingham Jail"...
I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not . . . the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to ‘order’ than to justice; who prefers a negative peace, which is the absence of tension, to a positive peace, which is the presence of justice; who constantly says, ‘I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direction action.’ . . . Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection. . . . We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people.One of the things he says at the end of his letter to his detractors is this...
I wish you had commended the Negro demonstrators of Birmingham for their sublime courage, their willingness to suffer, and their amazing discipline in the midst of the most inhuman provocation. One day the South will recognize its real heroes.Again, I so relate and could have written that first line myself to my own detractors. How I wish.
There's a poignant call for reflection at the end of the article I read this morning...
So, white folks, before you share that MLK quote on Facebook or join in a service project today, ask yourself:
Would I have disobeyed the instructions of my pastor and walked alongside black protestors in Birmingham?Would I have risked being seen as a troublemaker by friends and family for joining a movement that landed many of its participants in jail?Would I have been willing to sacrifice my reputation as a “Bible-believing Christian” by rejecting biblical arguments used to support segregation and oppose civil disobedience?Am I ready to consider how I might be complicit in similar injustices today?