History Speaks – What’s Our Story?

History Speaks – What’s Our Story? August 11, 2016

In a few hours, I’ll be attending a screening of The Global Leadership Summit, where I’ll get to hear some amazing leaders from both the secular and faith-based worlds speak on how to lead with excellence. I’m excited about this — really excited, although all that excellence does get a little tiring after a while. Really, sometimes it feels like a cult. The Cult of Excellence.


Bear with me as I segue here into the soundtrack of Hamilton. I swear there is a train and it has some connected thoughts here.


I’ve been addicted to  listening to the music from the Broadway hit anytime I get in the car. The kids and I all love it, we’re all learning the words and some history as we go. And it’s the kind of history that I love — less about dates and battles and more about people, about relationships, and how they all interact with society.


The scrappy youthfulness, the rebel heart displayed in the show has awakened a new sense of patriotism in me. Understand I fall in that camp of thinkers that doesn’t believe God is distinctly American, but that doesn’t mean I can’t be a little proud of who and what my country attempts to be. We’ve got great ideals — now if we could just live up to them. Sentimentality for the golden years doesn’t actually mean America was great. It means it was great for some of us.


So I’m thinking about leadership, about our roots as a nation, and I’m thinking about Jesus, of course. I’m thinking about how big moments in history that have come before us, and how we look back on them, how we teach them to our children. I’m thinking about how much we’re fucking it all up.


Where are we going to land in the history books when they teach about the militarization of our police force and the multitudes of young black men being murdered? I mean, I get that police have a tough job, and I really do understand that families of police officers experience great anxiety and sometimes loss. And those losses are tragic.


But if we can not yet acknowledge that something is incredibly wrong here — when unarmed black men are shot over and over and over again, for things like reaching for their wallets as per instructions, or trying to calm their autistic patient, or for sleeping, or for walking down the road — then we are stubbornly practicing the racism and privilege so many of us want to deny exists.


Let me repeat this: if we consistently attempt to deny that this is a problem, we are actively and purposefully practicing racism and white privilege.


What’s happening today is the modern day form of lynching, and the repeated refusal by the courts to distribute justice is an unofficial revival of the Jim Crow laws. If you’re not speaking out about it, you’re complicit in it.


Harsh but true.


And I wonder how history will treat us. What will my grandchildren be taught in school? Will their lessons be white-washed, with the few white allies getting all the credit for fighting the good fight while the Black Lives Matter movement is demonized? How will history view us, and what are the stories they will write? Will there be, somewhere, a memorial of all the young black men shot by police? A tall tower somewhere with their names engraved, or a long black wall, or a quiet pool of water, deep and dark?


And as I think about leadership today, I wonder what is our leadership doing to promote peace and safety for ALL Americans, not just the ones who are rich and white?


As I was reading my Bible this morning, thinking about leadership, and justice, and God, I read this:

He sent me to preach good news to the poor, heal the heartbroken,

Announce freedom to all captives, pardon all prisoners.

God sent me to announce the year of his grace — a celebration of God’s destruction of our enemies —

and to comfort all who mourn,

To care for the needs of all who mourn in Zion,

give them bouquets of roses instead of ashes,

Messages of joy instead of doom,

a praising heart instead of a languid spirit…

They’ll rebuilt the old ruins, raise a new city out of the wreckage.

They’ll start over on the ruined cities, take the rubble left behind and make it new….

Because you got a double dose of trouble, and more than your share of contempt,

Your inheritance in the land will be doubled, and your joy go on forever…

Because I, God, love fair dealing, and hate thievery and crime, I’ll pay your wages on time and in full, and establish my eternal covenant with you.

                     Isaiah 61:1-8

I read that this morning and I thought, This is all I can offer today. To the broken and the hurting, the families of these slain men, this is the comfort of God I can offer you today.

And I pray for us sinners as a nation, and may God have mercy on us when he reviews this, our history.





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