God Bless the Parents Who Will Not Faint

God bless the parents.

God bless the parents of children who have been wronged, misunderstood, who have disappeared…and who have been murdered.

God bless them because they will not give up.

Their quest for justice is Biblical in its tenacity.  It is so powerful to watch, but it is a space, a place, that no parent wants.

Their quest for justice is driven by their love for their children, which will not be crushed by injustice and those who feed them paltry stories that they are supposed to take lying down.

It is Biblical.

In the Gospel of Luke, Chapter 18:1, the  “parable of  the persistent widow,” it reads, “Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. 2He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. 3And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.”

The parents of Kendrick Johnson have been praying and working for justice since their son died.  The story of Kendrick squeezing his body into a rolled up wrestling mat just did not make sense.  Authorities told them he had died accidentally and the case was closed. The authorities “neither feared God nor what people thought.” People in power are sometimes, perhaps often,  like that, and in America, as concerns black people dying, authorities have been able to stonewall those who have sought justice and get away with it for years. “We the people” are really supposed to sit down and shut up and just take what we’re given, and many times, we acquiesce, probably most often because we do not have the financial resources to proceed.

But sometimes, no matter the cost, acquiescence is not an option. Sometimes, a situation screams for someone to fight for justice and truth. Sometimes, a crazy faith has to kick in that “the Lord will make a way” some way…and “we the people,” aka, “the persistent widow,” put ourselves out there and do what we must as we plead,”Grant me justice against my adversary.”

The parents of Kendrick Johnson have been sitting outside the state house in Valdosta, Georgia for months, “bothering” their adversary, the justice system of Lowndes County, for …justice.  In a story which appeared on the CNN blog, reporters noted:

For months, the family’s quest for answers went nowhere. It took until May for autopsy results to be issued, and then the sheriff’s office said the investigation had been closed.

The sheriff’s office and school officials resisted the family’s request to obtain school surveillance images and other records, citing state law that exempts the release of “education records of a minor child.”

After months of pursuing official answers and getting nowhere, they began staging daily rallies. (http://www.cnn.com/2013/10/31/justice/georgia-gym-mat-death/)

Even as the Johnson parents seek justice, Sybrina Fulton is still seeking justice in the death of her son, Trayvon Martin. She, too, faced her adversary, a non-sympathetic House panel, asking that something be done about “stand your ground” laws. In what feels like a slap in the face to an outside observer, I can only wonder how Ms. Fulton “held on” as she listened to Sen. Cruz defend “stand your ground,” saying that the law protects black people, too. (http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/10/29/ted-cruz-explains-to-trayvon-martins-mother-how-stand-your-ground-laws-help-protect-the-black-community-at-senate-hearing/)

I guess he doesn’t know, or hasn’t heard, about Marissa Alexander. She is the African-American woman who got sentenced to 20 years in prison for “standing her ground” and firing a shot into the air to protect herself.  That law did nothing to protect her.

But back to Sybrina Fulton, a mother whose heart must still burst with pain on a daily basis as she mourns the loss of her son, God bless her …God bless her because she will not stop. She is seeking justice.

There are other parents who have fought like gladiators for their children.  Consider Beth Holloway, who fought for justice in the disappearance of her daughter, Natalie.

Their stories remind us, as Jesus said, that “we ought to always pray and not give up.” Prayer becomes not an isolated mumbling of words to a deity in these cases; prayer becomes dynamic action, driven by love and fueled by a faith that can only be called crazy.

Yes…I am referring to “crazy faith,” that which I wrote about in my last book, Crazy Faith: Ordinary People; Extraordinary Lives. I am seeing it more and more.  “Crazy faith” means we “pray and not give up,” prayer that moves and causes others to move.

That’s what I am seeing in the parents of Kendrick Johnson and Trayvon Martin. I am sure there are others, many others. They are praying and not giving up. They will not faint.  The prophet Isaiah wrote, “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up on wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”

That is Biblical.  That is powerfully Biblical.

A candid observation …

Mitt Romney, You Meant What You Said

Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts,...
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I was always taught that what’s in one’s heart is what comes out of one’s mouth.

Actually, there’s a scripture that says the same: “For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks” is how the Gospel of Luke puts it (Luke 6:45).  In my house growing up, my mother would remind us of that, and would warn us not to say things for which we would have to apologize. It was her way of saying, I guess, “Love means never having to say ‘I’m sorry.'”

In other words, when we say things, it’s what we feel. It might be in the heat of a moment, but it is what we really feel.

So, I don’t buy this stuff GOP candidate Mitt Romney is saying, as he explains his now famous statement, “I am not concerned about the very poor,” that he “misspoke.” Hardly, Mitt.  You said what was and what is in your heart.

As these GOP candidates have campaigned, all of them have said things which reveal what they feel about America’s underclass.  While I cringe at how they go after each other, it bothers me to my heart that these guys seem so disconnected from people in this country who need a government that cares about them.

It is probably naive for me to want candidates to care, but I do. I am not for “big government” as it is being described, but I do want a government that has the good sense to take care of its own. I am reminded of a speech Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King gave a year before his death as he spoke out against the Viet Nam War: he said that he found it hard to talk to young people about democracy because he couldn’t explain why a country – our country – would spend millions of dollars and sacrifice hundreds of thousands of human lives un a war supposedly to get their people freedom and civil rights  when our own government does not make sure its own citizens have the same.

We are coming out of  The Great Recession, an event which has devastated literally hundreds of thousands of Americans. The once poor are now the “very poor,” and many of the former “middle class” are now poor. These are people who worked hard and who were whammied by the sinking of our economy which presumably happened because of the activities of greedy wealthy people. Though the unemployment rate is slowly dropping, and more and more people are finding work, many, too many, of our nation’s citizens are suffering.

And Mitt Romney, it seems, could care less.

He said that he wasn’t worried about the very poor because they have a safety net, meaning government programs – which help them, but an indicator of how far removed he is from the madding crowd, so to speak, is that much of that safety net is being and has been chipped away, and if he has his way, even more of it will be eliminated. He cannot relate to the fact that way too many Americans need food stamps in order to eat, to feed their children. He has not seen the eyes of the poor and very poor, trying desperately to get out of the wells of despair in which they sit, but he doesn’t want to. He is not concerned about them.

Newt Gingrich has seized upon Romney’s statement and is using it, saying we should be concerned about the poor. Nice try, Newt, but his earlier statements, including the one that’s been a part of his campaign rhetoric, that President Obama is the “food stamp president” shows that he isn’t too concerned about the poor, either, but is more concerned about a government which has issued a record number of food stamps to keep people going during this economic tsunami.

And even President Obama hasn’t shown much verbal concern for the poor; he has been soundly criticized for not mentioning the poor more often and for not coming up with more policies that directly impact and help the poor of this nation, specifically black and brown people.

Needless to say, the U.S. Congress has not shown by its behavior that it is concerned all that much by the poor. The primary objective of House Republicans is to make sure that Barack Obama is a one term president, and the Senate has been rather mealy-mouthed in addressing the ills of this nation as concerns our suffering citizens.

So, what are the poor?  If the poor or the very poor are people with whom the leaders of this country are not concerned, what kind of nation are we, really? Mitt Romney has said that people are “jealous” of people who have money. How callous is that?  He said that  over $300,000 he received for a speaking engagement was not a lot of money. Again, it doesn’t get much more callous or insensitive than that.

Mitt Romney, you didn’t “misspeak.” You spoke what was in your heart.

A candid observation …