America And Its Morning, America and Its Gathering.
Early this morning before the sun came up, I imagined what this country’s lost moral leaders might say about us now — what has happened to America? When did we choose to no longer broaden our heroic search for more justice — to give up on our growth as a Nation that is strong enough to admit the flaws in our democracy?
What would Ralph Bunche, Martin King, Robert Kennedy, and Malcolm X say about our sad state today ? For that matter what would Nelson Rockefeller or Barry Goldwater or Gerald Ford think of this America after only two decades into the 21st century?
Instead of making mild progress in healing the stinging wounds of racial disunity and injustice, we continue to rub its scars raw until now they threaten us as much as the current infectious plague. We are sickened now both in body and at heart by our failures to gather up what a preacher might call the “new manna of justice.”
This present illness of injustice is now, however, merely a root symptom of our greater disease — of our own “social comorbidity.” We as a country simply cannot gather the nourishment to grow as a society — to conquer our fearsome hunger and to fight our disunity — we have instead decided somehow that we are one another’s enemy — and this decision is our defeat.
Whether we are trying to contain a virus that we cannot see but can pass to one another without resistance or cure — or the virus of hatred that kills and injures based on the timeworn illness of racism and untreated prejudices — we see the toll rise ever higher. Both are deadly. And both are passed unchecked within our society as untraceable as they are fatal.
Yet, our only resistance — our only strategy — to defeat the madness of racism and the symptoms of this new biological plague is to bemoan our dead and dying — as if our grief could be a course of treatment. Yes. We should grieve our losses. We must recognize these wounds to ourselves and to our communities. We must take time to mourn.
But after we mourn; after we cry at the outrages and injustice at the hands of some entrusted to protect us all; and even as we feel the engulfing sorrow for the incalculable loss of now ten times ten thousand of our fellow Americans; we have not diagnosed the thing that keeps us weak — that ever makes us vulnerable and sick at heart.
If Dr. King were here or any of a thousand before him, they might speak words like those in one long past inaugural: we are not enemies but friends.
Those leaders would tell us we are neither enemies, nor even strangers, in a world where we can by our wondrous technology meet from afar and speak at the literal touch of our hands.
If we are enemies, if we are strangers, in a nation that floods itself daily with news and data and media postings, it is because in all of that we have forgotten to rise each day to look for justice — we have forgotten to rise each day to simply look for one another. We have neglected to gather not only our own manna, but enough to feed a nation with our plenty in its hunger for a more perfect union.
We can only succeed as a society, and as a human family, if we consciously choose to gather not only for ourselves but for one another.
As Lincoln knew, as King knew, as Robert Kennedy knew, as Nelson Mandela knew, without each day gathering the manna of justice, there can never be enough of anything else for which we clamor.
Unless we can first decide that we will gather justice for each other in this time of crisis, no one’s baskets will be full.
Albert Turner Goins