It was September 1963, while the four of them put on white robes, Robert turned to them and whispered “today we honor the “Kloran” (a portmanteau of “Klan” and Koran) and God.” He stepped towards the front door, Bible in hand, and continued, “What we do today we do it in union with the Bible, for in Romans 12:1 we are told, ‘I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.’” Three hours passes and so did four innocent children loving God in the sanctity of the 16th Street Baptist Church.
It was May 2013, she watched her 15-year-old son pull on the vest and tighten the fasteners. He whispered, “I’m ready woman.” She moved towards him and hugged him – he gently pulled away and walked towards the front door Koran in hand – there he stopped and turning towards her whispered his last words, “God calls me to do this in union with the Qur’an 9:14-15, “Fight them, Allah will torment them by your hands, and bring them to disgrace, and will assist you against them, and will heal the hearts of the believers, and will still the anger of your hearts.’” Less than one hour passed, so did many innocents now lying dead in the streets of Afghanistan.
These twisted and repulsive acts – both seeming acts of deliverance through the sacrifice of self and the death of others – obviously can be looked at through two different “lenses,” the lens of “truth” or “deceit.” In both, the 16th Street Baptist Church or the war-torn streets of Afghanistan, it seems that the death of these “innocents” have been “justified” as “God mandated.” Yes, indeed yet another twisted human perception – the justification of our failure to find in the lives of others the gift of faith, hope, and love.
However, in this column the truth is found in the reality of suffering and death. Reality teaches us that although there are two lenses to life – truth or deceit, only the lens of deceit is coated first with human deception and then the camouflage of separation/segregation – such as the camouflage found in many “distorted” creeds. The lens of truth is clear so why then isn’t it the most “looked through” lens of life? Simply because it shows us only this one thing, truth, and that is most often just too painful to embrace.
Here in the laboratory of reality it’s time for an experiment of life. This experiment will require we untie all the “ropes of life” that keep us separated from the truth. These “ropes of life” that should “bind” us to actuality instead “blind” us to the truth. These ropes have names – one rope called “race”, one called “politics”, and the final one called “religion”.
From the time we first stepped out of the heart of Africa our journey has taken us from one race, human – to a complexity of “differences” simply because of the color of our skin. From the mandate to “love one another” to the self-serving camouflage which preaches to us the “love of only those selected by creed”, and from the majestic embrace of one creative force, to religious division and condemnation. And sadly, the journey isn’t over – we have not yet “climbed to the mountain top and seen the other side.”