In Memory of The Emmanuel Nine
Sometimes I don’t understand the depths of evil that is in the world today. I simply cannot understand how people can do to others the things that people do. I don’t – no, I can’t – fathom why we choose to spend so much time worrying about what makes us different that it becomes something that leads to the actions of this past week.
The quotes used in this post are words by the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Nine people entered the Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina for worship and prayer. They were seeking solace, understanding, contemplation, or whatever they may have sought. They were human and had come to a place of worship in a welcoming manner. Their intent was so selfless that they welcomed into their midst one who would bring their time on this planet to an end.
“People fail to get along because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don’t know each other; they don’t know each other because they have not communicated with each other.”
They did not provoke. They worshiped. And, it matters not if they were in a business, a theatre, on the street, or wherever. They did not provoke. They welcomed!
“There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must take it because conscience tells him it is right.”
There is no excuse for what the young man did.
He acted out of hate and did so in a manner that is unconscionable. I see his pictures and wonder how our country in 2015 can produce someone who would do this thing. I am sickened to read that he attributes the travesty that happened to Trayvon Martin as part of his motivation.
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”
His message was of hate.
“Let no man pull you so low as to hate him.”
None of us are without sin. No single person. It is not my place to judge, but – as a human being – I can say that I find what he did unconscionable.
“Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”
This person hoped to light a match that would ignite a race war. For me, I am angry. I am so angry that you clouded any perceived hope that I may have had – any belief that people were better than what we were. Instead, you simply reminded me of the disgusting fact that racism is very much alive – just different.
“We must come to see that the end we seek is a society at peace with itself, a society that can live with its conscience.”
Well, I hope and pray your actions deliver the opposite. I pray that your actions serve as a wake up call to people that we are NOT where we need to be. We need to stop hiding behind political parties, decades of self-righteous tradition, and sometimes behind conservative pews and pulpits. We need to acknowledge that we are not perfect and work together for the common goal.
The families shared words of forgiveness and is one of the reasons I write this post today. I cried when I listened to their words of forgiveness – less than 48 hours after the deaths of their family members. They spoke of forgiveness. They forgave.
I felt unworthy – unjust – unclean – in that the disgust and anger I felt for the person never gave way to the idea of forgiveness. Instead, I hoped he got what was coming to him. These people and the words they spoke that day – they were a life lesson.
“Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it. Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life; love illuminates it.”
We live in the Untied States of America. The UNITED States should mean something other than the POLITICAL States or the Us-v-Them States. Imagine what our nation could do IF we worried less about oppressing those who are different and focused more on how we are the same.
“I have decided to stick to love…Hate is too great a burden to bear.”
I did not name the person who committed the hateful, terrorist act as I will not provide another outlet for him. Instead, I will promote the names of his victims. Yes, a white man writes this post on Sunday afternoon after your acts the prior week. I write them as testament that you were wrong and unjust. May this be only one of many small gestures by various people who act in defiance of your message.
And, for those whose now walk with the angels as one of them, I humbly and, without worthiness, name you:
Depayne Middleton Doctor
Sen. Clementa C. Pinckney
The Rev. Dr. Daniel Simmons Sr.
May You Rest in Peace