Brian’s Reflection: Monday, February 21, 2011
Power concedes nothing without a demand.
It never did and it never will.
The life of the nation is secure only while the
nation is honest, truthful, and virtuous.
Frederick Douglass, prophetic witness; he
is remembered in the Episcopal Church
Kalendar of “Holy Women, Holy Men”
on February 20th
Frederick Douglass was born a slave, in 1818. He experienced a conversion to Christ in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, and his recollection of that tradition’s spiritual music sustained him in his struggle for freedom: “Those songs still follow me, to deepen my hatred of slavery, and quicken my sympathies for my brethren in bonds.” A strong advocate of racial integration, Douglass disavowed black separatism and wanted to be counted as equal among his white peers. When he met Abraham Lincoln in the White House, he noted that the President treated him as a kindred spirit without one trace of condescension.
Power without Love is death-dealing, both to those who wield it and to those who are it’s victims. Think about the story of the Israelites created by the Hasmonean dynasty between 167-67BC. They portray God as “on their side”, leading them out of bondage.
What a few weeks this has been in our World! Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, Wisconsin. We are seeing, I think, a spiritual awakening along with the politics. Douglass made it clear that people will be oppressed by Power to the extent that they will permit it. Many people have had enough. Many people in America are watching and experiencing oppression by the moneyed, the privileged, the powerful. Many may be realizing the corrupting influence power has to gain power under false pretenses and then enslave those without power.
What has become obvious over the past several years – at least to me - is that our nation is not by any means “honest, truthful, and virtuous”. And this is true of many many nations in the World. Hence the turmoil we are in.
Frederick Douglass spoke Truth to Power - a former slave to an American President. God, the God I know in Jesus, in my understanding is never “on the side” of Power that oppresses and denies the Humanity and freedom of Her people.
I think we are in for a long siege of conflict in the World. I doubt I will live to see a peaceful resolution. But it will come. There will always be people like Frederick Douglass, who know in their heart their intrinsic value and dignity. And they will fearlessly speak Truth to Power. It is my sincere hope that those who voted in the present House of Representatives will soon realize with a shock that they have engineered their own enslavement. Power, once given, enslaves both the rulers and the ruled.
Happily, God cannot be co-opted by the rich and powerful. Stones are rolled away from the tombs in which they have tried to bury Love ….. and as St. Paul said, Love and its companion Justice have the greatest power.