Monday, October 17, 2016
“Examples of goodness that know no ethnic, religious, racial, or political bounds are important, as they also represent an axis around which a healthy future can be constructed after the violence is over.” ― Dario Spini
Back in 1964, we were living in Alexandria, Louisiana, where my father was the manager of the Sears store. The Civil Rights bill had been passed, and it was obvious to almost everyone that segregation was going to become a thing of the past. However, at that moment, it was the way things were in Alexandria. My mother and a group of women from the League of Women Voters were working to meet with parents from the high school to prepare for integration. They knew it was coming and without taking sides or debating whether it was right or wrong, they wanted to be ready so that when it came, it could be implemented without violence. That’s all these women (my mother included) wanted to do—prevent violence that would end up hurting students and disrupting education. The parents (mostly women) wanted their children to be able to graduate on time, to have their senior prom, to do all the things that meant so much to them from their high school experiences. The meetings were not in support of integration or against it. They were about reconciliation. It was coming regardless of how they felt about it, so they just wanted to insure that when it came, it came without the violence that had already been seen elsewhere. My mother, who was very active with the League of Women Voters, was at the forefront and had her picture in the paper as a result. One night, returning from one of the meetings to prevent violence, a pick-up truck full of angry young men followed Mom, pulled up beside her, yelled obscenities at her, threw a brick through the back window of her car and then forced her car (a big Oldsmobile) into the ditch beside the road--they drove off and left her there. She wasn’t hurt badly, just some scratches and bruises, and we were able to get the car out of the ditch, but we couldn’t stop her from continuing with her meetings. This happened because she didn’t want there to be violence when the inevitable happened—she wasn’t fighting for integration, just the reconciliation of what would surely happen and the absence of violence at its implementation. She was concerned about what was going to happen afterward and wanted it to be peaceful.
I’m writing this today because there is an election coming soon in the United States. I’m not a prophet or a seer, but I can predict safely that one of the two main candidates will win—that much is certain. What is not certain is what will happen afterward. This is the time for those of you, like my mother, who don’t want to see violence to step up and begin work to keep that from happening—no matter who wins. Violence and brutality as a result of the election means that no one really wins but that everybody loses. Integration has been the law of the land since 1964 and many, many people have benefitted. Some of those owe a brief prayer of thanks to those like my mother, who believed that peace starts in the heart and will only occur if you and people like you will work to make it happen. No matter what is coming on November 8th, November 9th will follow it. Christ will still be King, but will He be proud of you for efforts in His name? If my dear, sweet, very non-violent mother could show such bravery in the face of danger, surely a few of you could get together and work to see that violence and brutality are not the direct result of an election. Just sayin’.