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Saturday, August 24, 2013

When the Time Has Come

In your own words, defined the difference between being content and being complacent. Are you doing all you can do to fulfill the call of God in your life? (Strength for Every Moment by TJ Jakes, page 11).

It was a close place. I took it up, and held it in my hand. I was a trembling, because I'd got to decide, forever, betwixt two things, and I knowed it [whether within socially accepted and “religiously correct” practice to betray Jim and leave him in slavery or rescue him]. I studied a minute, sort of holding my breath, and then says to myself:"All right, then, I'll go to hell"- and tore it up.

It was awful thoughts, and awful words, but they was said. And I let them stay said; and never thought no more about reforming. I shoved the whole thing out of my head; and said I would take up wickedness again, which was in my line, being brung up to it, and the other warn't. And for a starter, I would go to work and steal Jim out of slavery again; and if I could think up anything worse, I would do that, too; because as long as I was in, and in for good, I might as well go the whole hog.” (The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Chapter 31) by Mark Twain).

Today thoughts turn to the March on Washington 50 years ago and the oratory of Martin Luther King Jr. His words chisel forever withstanding even in the winds of time the quintessential purpose of America: to be judged by the content of character, not the color of skin or any other secondary matter.

I think Martin Luther King despite the strife in which he found himself was in his soul content – he was assuredly fulfilling the call of God in his life. Yet, obviously he was not complacent. Complacency at its core is escapism. For example, I ignore watching what I eat because I do not face the reality of the physical consequences of eating junk food. But perhaps more typical is the escapism that blocks off the pain of others. Thus in some Third World countries, for example, we have palatial mansions situated in the midst of abject poverty. How do we account for the complacency that allows for total obliviousness to the pain of others – including perhaps most strikingly, the pain of children. Why over millennia has this become ingrained in human behavior?

Somewhere and somehow we seem to have learned that personal well-being is crucial for survival even at the expense of the well-being of others. There are cases in fact when we must admit this approach is necessary. At some advanced point, I should not enter a burning house to save even crying and terrified children. Yet we somehow have allowed these extreme cases (and extreme cases make for bad law) to become deeply influential in our routine thought patterns – even in matters to which they do not even remotely apply. Even the very reverse is in fact most often true; if we do not take into account the welfare of others our own welfare and that of our children are doomed. I think the next great advance socially in American society will come from tackling the issue of wealth distribution – how its immediate sources are frequently removed from its eventual distribution. Yet because of Dr. Martin Luther King, the Civil Rights Movement, and 50 years of progress on this front; I feel hopeful and confident that when the time has come America will address and solve this issue.

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