Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Crowds at Calvary

Barack Obama gave the speech of a lifetime on race. He had to. He was left with no choice but to address America after remarks by his friend and pastor left America feeling inflamed. I wasn't one of those inflamed. I have attended church regularly in the US since Sept 11, 2001 and never been to a black preacher's church. However, those sentiments of Reverend Wright are not unique to Wright. They are basically conventional wisdom amongst many many pastors of all races and creeds. My overall assessment is that Barack Obama was handed this opportunity by his naysayers, by an idle media as elections go through what should have been a downtime period and by a fickle society, this proven by the poll results that came out yesterday.

As we approach Easter, I address people, reactions, call for blood, and the roles we play in everyday life. Jesus was crucified on a cross because the crowds were baying for his blood. A crowd so incensed by the reigning religious elite. An elite group that was incensed at the audacity of Jesus. How dare Jesus claim to be the messiah and attack them for the way they run the church? Recall Jerusalem was crowded as the annual festival where they all brought sacrifices, the best of their lambs, was taking place. Keeping this short, Jesus did two things that influenced his ultimate crucifixion. He went to the temple in Jerusalem, drove the religious elite out for turning the temple into a den of thieves and raised a dead Lazarus, his best friend, four days into decay. There was euphoria, spreading like wildfire over the miracle of raising Lazarus, couple this with the scene Jesus created at the temple, add the huge crowds as all of Israel was demanded to be in Jerusalem then and there, you now know why the religious elite was incensed.

What I don't understand is how they turned a crowd that had been chanting "Hosanna" as Jesus walked on by on a donkey, to one that yelled back "Barabbas", over Jesus given a choice of whom to set free. The irony is that the elite who Jesus kicked out of the temple were stealing from the very crowds that finally crucified Jesus. That what he yelled at them for was the fact that they were deeming people's perfectly acceptable lambs as imperfect, taking those, selling them lambs and then selling the lambs they took from these other families to the families that came behind them. They had turned a most intimate process of worship into a business with no care for even the really poor who would spend everything they had to purchase a lamb worthy of sacrifice.

It's the way people are influenced, have been through history into ignoring the facts that they were so aware of from having visually and mentally experienced them, and become puppets of people with their own personal agendas. It's crazy how people who know what both white and black people say behind closed doors would pretend to be so shocked about Rev, Wright's utterances. A man who stands in a pulpit in a black church said there were injustices to the black from the whites, OMG!!! shocker! I know I'm oversimplifying the issue, my point being it's sensational but not situational. That it has become this situational, is not surprising to me, just further testimony into the insanely huge amount of weakness that is human beings in as parts of a crowd. That fact that makes the few people who can see the truth as crowds start baying for blood, often innocent and with knowledge of that fact having been tucked away into the corners people's minds, perhaps so that they are all saying the same thing; that difference, so rare and yet so necessary. That common sense so lacking across medias all over the world, that weakness that has caused the death of so many, that constant revolving door that is so wondrous for its abundance despite its constant abundance of poor results.

The crowds at Calvary. A situation we find ourselves in everyday. Whenever we are in a position to decide something about anything, and are part of a huge crowd, physically present or otherwise; it's that opportunity we have to shout "Jesus" instead of "Barabbas"; based on what we know not what we are being told we know, that truly determines what kinds of people we really are.

Recall however, that in Jesus' situation, this outcome was predetermined. But also remember that the greatest good came from people's inability to just do right, to stand for truth. In that sense, truth always wins. and imagine the guilt and shame of those who had yelled Barabbas as the news of Jesus and his resurrection spread. And the torture many might have endured in the hands of a common criminal such as Barabbas, simply because they chose to set him free.

So as Barack does the right thing by refusing to denounce his reverend over petty politics, I gratefully watch him make what I believe to be the right call on this issue. If it costs him the election, so be it. We are after all our brother's keepers. And for a country that boasts free speech, utterances and opinions like Rev. Wright's, though controversial, are shared by so many from all races, that it would be ludicrous to agree that he was that crazy. I understand the need to denounce the speeches especially where they sound racist. But I as a normal thinking person, looking at Barack as a mixed American, raised by white relatives and struggling to find an identity within his prescribed race could never ask that he denounce the man who led him to understand what or who he really was. And I couldn't either shrink my mind to accepting he is racist against whites, despite they being his closest relatives, including a mother he loved dearly.

So as a member of the Crowd at Calvary, I'm accepting my inability to change the outcome, but I am going against the voices I hear. simply because I think they are wrong, biased and misleading, all for selfish reasons.

Y'all have a Happy Easter!

No comments: