A few weeks ago, I was inspired while watching Barack Obama accept the “Profile in Courage Award” at the JFK Library. During his acceptance speech President Obama spoke about the meaning of courage.
Obama said, “Courage is not the absence of fear, any fool can be fearless. Courage, true courage derives from the sense of who we are, what are our best selves, what are our most important commitments, and the belief that we can dig deep and do hard things for the enduring benefit of others.”
In light of what he said, I continue to struggle with the hypocrisy of the religious community, from the far right, who are willing to stay silent about the policies being put into place by the Trump Administration; to the main stream churches, that didn’t vote or support Donald Trump, but nonetheless have not taken any significant stand against his policies that hurt the most vulnerable among us.
I heard a sermon about the authentic Jesus. The Jesus, whose principles the church was built on. In this sermon, the preacher stated that the authentic Jesus is radical and revolutionary.
The authentic Jesus is concerned about how we lived on earth as much as He is about Heaven. He is concerned about economical, political, and social equality. Jesus told the religious leaders of His day, that though they looked clean on the outside, inside they were filthy. He talked about how they choked on a gnat but swallowed a camel. Jesus said the things that please Him are true faith, justice and mercy.
This authentic Jesus would surely challenge the churches of today, who are satisfied with singing, shouting and worshiping within their four walls; but does nothing against the oppression, exploitation, and injustice that sit right outside their doors.
How can we claim to be followers of Christ and be comfortable with a nation that spend billions on war and be okay with the defunding of meals on wheels? A country that claims to be concerned about protecting its citizens from terrorism, but okay if we die from pre-existing conditions.
A country where our civil rights is under attack. Where voting rights, immigrant rights, and gender rights policies, put in place under the Obama administration, are being reversed by this current administration. There will be very little justice, in a Jeff Session’s Justice Dept.
Harry Belafonte, the Father of Civil Rights, said that he was puzzled that we find ourselves at this place, that somewhere, somehow, we blinked. However, he went on to say, just like fifty years ago, we would get through all the evil that Donald Trump brings.
At the JFK Library, President Obama reminded us that history does not move in a straight line. He said that the values and progress we cherish are not inevitable; they are fragile, in need of constant renewal. We constantly must make a choice because progress is fragile and precarious. It’s because of this precariousness that courage becomes necessary.
I believe we are at the crossroad of becoming a declining nation, unless we refuse to allow the principles, upon which these United States was built be destroyed; and we have the courage to say, not on my watch!
Courage will come in different forms. For our political leaders, it will be doing what is right for everyone and not for party loyalty or personal gain. Courage will be seeing the immorality of making healthcare available only for the privilege. Understanding that a tax cut for millionaires over providing food to seniors and children is inhumane.
Courage is not allowing families to be torn apart or keeping people in detention centers. It’s refusing to have a justice system where brown and black men and women are given harsher sentences and less likely to be given second chances.
Courage for our spiritual leaders will look like Dr. Martin Luther King, Reverend Ralph Abernathy, Reverend Jesse Jackson or a Reverend William Barber. Instead of sitting in pews, they will lead their congregation on a Sunday and march in front of city hall, because of unfair hiring practices. Someone willing to join a Black Lives Matter Rally. Someone willing to stand up for black mothers, whose children are arbitrarily removed from their homes because of a bias court system. These courageous spiritual leaders would be engaged with organizations like the NAACP. They would be the true moral compasses of their community.
What would courage look like for you and me? It would like someone who understands the cost. Someone who is engaged and understands the political climate we live in. Someone willing to sacrifice personal comfort, time and resources. Someone who will speak truth to power and be the voice for the voiceless, willing to march, rally, and boycott. Someone willing to run for political office or support someone else who is willing to run.
History teaches us that we must continue to be resolute in fighting against wrong. That there is a danger in not fighting. Because once we acquiesce to wrong and allow wrong to become the norm, it becomes less likely we’ll challenge wrong. If we won’t march or protest today, will we march or protest when it’s illegal?