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Grief at the Heart of a Moral Movement: A Personal Meditation for 2016

But we cannot stop there. Because Tamir is not the only child we have lost. Maleah, a precious black baby girl, is also dead. And she was killed by young black men. I must confess, this is the other side of my righteous anger and grief. If state-sanctioned police are killing our babies, why in the hell are some us helping them? (Again, it is the preacher's responsibility to curse that which is damnable.) What kind of demon causes you to participate in your own genocide?

I know some will say that these young men are so consumed by society's hatred that they even hate themselves. But my grief refuses to hear what society did and how it is to blame. Our people made it through slavery without killing one another. Don't tell me poverty makes you kill a baby. "Upbringing" doesn't make you kill a baby. Evil kills babies.

A prophetic, moral voice must cry out against this evil, too. The problem is not just "they." It is us — all of us — and nothing short of a moral revolution of values will save us from the destruction that is to come.

More guns will not save us. Neither will better gun laws and criminal justice reform. What America needs is a revival to heal our soul and bring together a new vision of beloved community. We need spaces where we sit down together in our neighborhoods, young and old, black, white and brown, rich and poor, Republican, Democrat, and Independent to talk about who we've been and who we want to be. We need transformational coalitions where we listen to other people's pain and internalize their hopes to the point that their issues become our issues.

And after we've sat down to mourn and dream together, we need to stand together before school boards and City Councils. We need to assemble on our state house lawns and shout aloud with Langston Hughes, "America never was America to me / and yet I swear this oath, / America will be!" We will become the nation we've not yet been only by recovering the Movement mentality that gave rise to America's First and Second Reconstructions. The hope we can believe in will not be on the ballot in 2016. But that does not mean we can't work together toward it. If we give ourselves to prophetic lament, it can lead us to the Movement building that will give rise to a Third Reconstruction.

This moral revolution of values is what I'm devoting myself to in 2016. But I am a father as well as a pastor and political leader. I have to talk to my five children who keep asking me, "Dad, do they want to kill us all?" These are the precious lives I have to protect from thugs among the police and bangers in the hood, even as I continue to get threats from racists who would rather see me dead than challenge lies and speak the truth in love. Only a new society can make us all safe. Together we have to build that society because all children are our children.

1/5/2016 5:00:00 AM