Evolving. That word has been used a lot in the last few weeks. The news reporters and opinion leaders used the word to describe our nation’s shift on marriage equality and recognition of our symbols of oppression, meaning the Confederate flag. The Fourth Estate tells us minds are being changed, at least in the collective sense. In some ways I agree, I don’t believe marriage equality would be a reality today if it weren’t for the changing of hearts and minds on the issue. The Confederate flag would still be flying with hardly a political comment, if the white institutions holding the power had not finally, finally, for god’s sake finally realized and admitted that flying the Confederate flag is, at a minimum, a true danger for those living in the crosshairs of hatred, and, in a larger sense, a downright affront to the collective citizenry.
I thought about writing about Charleston for a while. The atrocity that happened there affected us deeply, and I wanted to write something meaningful for the few likely to read it. My mind churned with thoughts on what I should write. About the terror of that evening. About the unspeakable cruelty of murdering people in their place of worship, of the fear those churchgoers must have felt, and the bravery they held. About how racism doesn’t stop at the Mason-Dixon Line. But I kept coming back to one thing; it wasn’t my place to write about what happened in Charleston. The families of those who were gunned down that evening spoke for their loved ones. Their words to the killer were, “I forgive you.” The dignity of that courtroom moment was startling and mysterious, beyond comprehension for most of us. A week later our President sang Amazing Grace at the eulogy of Senator Pinckney, and once again we were reminded of the beauty of humanity. In those moments of forgiveness and grace, our African-American brothers and sisters once again held the leading light on the long path toward justice. I know they must tire of our ignorance, and how we take so damn long to “evolve.”
Last night, I picked up my phone, and by happenstance this quote was on the screen: “Don’t waste yourself in rejection, nor bark against the bad, but chant the beauty of the good.” Emerson.
And so today, I want to chant the beauty of the good. Of the beauty of those brave souls who will peacefully seek justice rather than grab a gun, who understand the power of forgiveness to overcome the cowardice of hate, who believe that one day their long journey will be over, and that although the cauldrons of hate will always boil beneath the surface, at least as a nation, we will know the true meaning of liberty and justice for all.
God bless you, brave soldiers. The beauty of your light shines on.