Truth Rises, Always ..

Truth, crushed to the ground …always rises.

Perhaps it is happening that our nation will begin to open its ears and hear the stories of the way it has treated too many of its citizens, because their voices are rising.

In her work investigating the stories of African-Americans, primarily males, who have been killed by police and/or vigilantes, SpiritHouse Project co-founder  Ruby Sales receives  stories from mothers and relatives of slain and all-but-forgotten husbands, brothers and sons who met their deaths in that way.

They call looking for help as they seek answers or justice or both. Sales, who has been looking into these murders for a while, takes each case with care, concern and outrage that so many have been murdered with local, state and federal governments looking the other way.

This week, she received notice that on Sunday, November 10, there will be a memorial service for a man named Isaiah Nixon, a black man who  at age 38 was killed by two white men in 1948 after he  had exercised his right to vote.

Nixon’s death has been being investigated by the office of Margaret Burnham, who is a professor of law and the Director of Civil Rights and Restorative Justice at Northeastern University in Boston.  Christopher Bridges was a law student at Northeastern working with the Civil Rights and Restorative Justice project when he resurrected the case.  He uncovered the story, and, after two years of work to nurture interest in Nixon’s death, Burnham’s his work has resulted in awareness and interest in this man and his situation.

According to Bridges’ work, , Nixon,  a United States military veteran, returned to his home in Alston, Georgia, after voting in the Georgia primary election.  Shortly thereafter, two white men who were also brothers, showed up at Nixon’s house and ordered him to come to them. When Nixon refused, the two men shot him three times – as his wife and six children looked on, horrified. He was taken to the hospital, but died 48 hours later.

The two men were tried and acquitted of Nixon’s murder and a fund was launched by a local newspaper and the NAACP to relocate his family to Florida.

Isaiah Nixon, who had fought for his country, was shot and killed and nobody seemed to care.

Burnham’s office said the memorial service to be held on November 10 in Mt. Vernon, Georgia, was planned intentionally for that date – as Nixon was a war veteran.

Sales, who says white and black America has bought into the myth that black people are “thugs and animals,”  has solicited the expertise and help of Burnham as she investigates deaths such as Nixon’s. These types of murders, she said, are a part of social control wielded by law enforcement.

“Somewhere in our souls, we have given up our children,” Sales said, recalling the ways she remembers personally how police used to terrorize black children and youth. There is a difference between people now and then, she said. Back then, she said, “our parents refused to give our children up.” Today, parents have given into the myth that says black people are …”thugs and animals.”

At Sunday’s memorial service for Nixon, relatives will attend.  Although nobody knows where Nixon is buried, there is a move in Alston to construct a permanent marker in his memory.

Some 60 years after his murder, that is good.

But the troubling thing is that for so long, he lay buried somewhere, all but forgotten. He was lynched by gunshot…and forgotten.

Sales believes there are many, many more like Nixon.  She is working to make sure the SpiritHouse Project uncovers as many as possible, giving voice to voices that were cruelly silenced just because they were the wrong color.

Truth, crushed to the ground, always wiggles its way out of the dust. It always comes out, always rises.  Nixon’s voice is rising.

A candid observation …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Religion, Misused: God is Not a Thug

Justice (Dike, on the left) and Divine Vengean...
Justice (Dike, on the left) and Divine Vengeance (Nemesis, right) are pursuing the criminal murderer. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing, there were members of the Muslim community who were praying that it was not “one of theirs” that committed the offense.

Their angst was not unlike the silent yearnings African-Americans used to feel, and perhaps still do, every time there was a report of a crime. Please, we would pray, let it not be one of “us.”

Even as the drama unfolded, there existed an uneasy thought that this heinous crime had been carried out in the name of religion. John King, on CNN, said out loud that “reports” indicated that the crime was committed by people who were said to be “dark-skinned.”  He said he had gotten his information from very credible sources. That could mean many things: perhaps the perpetrators were Hispanic, or African-American …but everyone knew that the suggestion was being put forth that this thing, this horrible, horrible thing, was done by someone of Middle Eastern descent, in the name of religion. Jihad. Holy war.

The word “Islam” means “submission,” or “surrender.” One who is Muslim surrenders to God, or is supposed to. But so are Christians supposed to surrender to God. Few in either religion do that.

Instead, heinous, hateful acts are carried out in the name of God. What could be more disgusting than that?

Acts of violence like this – or even like the Crusades – are carried out in the name of God. “Jihad” has come to mean “holy war” when  in fact there seems to be some misunderstanding. Radical Muslims carry out “jihad,” they say, to defend God’s purposes. They interpret it as “holy,” and use it to justify their need and desire to frighten the hell out of people. (intended). Non-Muslims know that just hearing that word will instill fear in non-Muslims and will cause them to dislike and be afraid of Islam as a faith.

But the word “jihad” actually means “to struggle for a good cause.”

Some people derive a crass sense of arrogance as they use God and religion to justify their own tormented souls and desires. They think it somehow elevates their crime above the level of crime. It does not. God is not a criminal and does not justify criminal acts.

We as Americans are furious at the cowardly act of terror committed by Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and his elder brother, Tamerlan. Tamerlan was said to be very religious, and had begun showing behavior of a religious fundamentalist. In his mind, he probably felt justified to plant the bombs that killed some and destroyed the lives of so many others. If he were alive, one wonders if he would have stated, with a fair amount of arrogance, that God had ordained it. That is just as ridiculous as Christians bombing abortion clinics and claiming that God directed it, that God is pleased with their work. They are, after all, stamping out what THEY define as evil.

Those who commit violent acts in the name of religion and of God are off the mark and display a fundamental misunderstanding of God and what God stands for. God does not condone, support or encourage evil or violence or murder or discrimination …

Those who do such things delude themselves, and far too many others. God …is not a thug. God is love, and compassion, and mercy.

God …is not a thug.

A candid observation …

 

Evil Doesn’t Win

Ultimately, evil does not win.

It feels like it does. It gets momentary victories, but in the end, it really does not win. Evil seems to have an amazing capacity to produce good.

Our senators did not approve wider background checks for people purchasing guns. Someone planted bombs at the Boston Marathon. A sick young man murdered children and dedicated adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School. A misguided young man shot and killed a young girl he did not know in Chicago, just days after she returned from performing at President Barack Obama’s second inauguration. So many young people die by violence in urban areas, and nobody really seems to care. The Prison Industrial Complex continues to reap profit off the lives of the unfortunate.

Many young men and women have suffered from sexual abuse from the priests they loved and trusted.  Offending priests have been protected, and it stayed quiet for as long as it could. Health care is so expensive that those who must need it cannot afford it. People in this, the wealthiest nation in the world, are hungry; some have to choose between taking the medicine they need and buying food for their children. The elderly – the jewels of any society – are being left alone to fend for themselves, after having lived lives that helped this nation get to where it is. It seems like evil is having its way …but in the end, evil doesn’t win.

A man named Hitler killed millions of Jewish people and the world, for the most part, remained silent. Africans were stolen from their homelands and brought to the Americas  by people wanting to use their labor while belittling their lives. Slavery became big business, and the government refused for so long to pass laws to protect these people who built this country. Even the presidents of our nation looked the other way while slavery and discrimination and lynching persisted. The United States Supreme Court did not protect “the least of these,” a group which included women, children, African – Americans, and others.  The rights of members of the LGBT community have long been ignored, in spite of the fact that all people are children of God, worthy of dignity.

People rejoice when they carry out evil; people rejoice and hug each other when they have done something evil for their own reasons that will result in the suffering of others. Evil was what allowed even churches to turn away a young boy named Ryan White because he had full-blown AIDS.

Evil seems to have the upper hand in so many instances, but in the end, evil doesn’t win. What people mean for evil, God means for good. It may take a while, but God and good really do trump evil. Good is so often pushed so deeply underground that it takes a while for it to bloom, but it always does bloom, eventually. From the evil called slavery came the Civil Rights movement; from the evil on a Monday afternoon in Boston came an interfaith service; from the evil called gun violence that resulted in children and adults in Newtown suffering unmentionable loss came the resolve of parents and relatives, and a former legislator named Gabby Giffords to fight evil, fight the NRA, and to fight complacency.

Evil only seems to win. In the end, it doesn’t. Even evil comes to justice, by and by.

A candid observation.