Some Thoughts About What
Happened in Washington D.C.
Like you, I have initial impressions, growing concerns, and unanswered questions. I don’t pretend to have more insight than the next person, but I would like to share a bit about where I am right now.
I happened to be on vacation last Wednesday, and Amy and the kids and I planned to tour McLeod Plantation on James Island and then go out to Folly Beach for the sunset. Amy took the kids to visit McLeod a few years ago, and they had been telling me we needed to visit together. McLeod has made a commitment to tell its history and the history of other southern plantations through the eyes of the enslaved people who lived and worked there, and for those of us who grew up learning only part of the story, it is necessary growth. They knew I was shaken by the fingerprints of the enslaved we discovered in the bricks on a Drayton Hall visit, so McLeod would surely offer another confrontation with the reality of Charleston history.
The guided tour offered much to ponder about the beginnings of South Carolina history and the ways African Americans continued to be held down and held back even after emancipation. Not only was there no justice or equity then, but the patterns set in the beginning persisted through Reconstruction, the Jim Crow era, and even into the present day. The tour (with our questions afterward) took the bulk of the afternoon, and as we walked back to the minivan, silent from the experience, Andrew said, “Dad, you need to see this.” He showed me his phone and the developing news story of rioting at the Capitol Building in Washington DC.
From the van, we watched and listened as things were happening: reports of people who, stirred by the president who told them earlier at a rally, “…you’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength, and you have to be strong,” marched up to Capitol Hill with
malicious intent. Gallows for the Vice President. White supremacist shirts and chants. Those in the Capitol Building were either quickly evacuated or retreated to hiding places to escape the terror entering the doors. When the one who earlier stirred the crowd finally did speak, the best he could muster was “So go home. We love you. You’re very special.” If McLeod Plantation was not enough of an epiphany about the realities and persistence of evil in the world, here it was again, live and in the present moment.
So where am I today?
Scripture tells us to test the spirits to discern whether they are from God. We are implored to follow the Spirit of Christ and reject that which is anti-Christ. (1 John 4). Last Wednesday, I was confronted with a past and a present where those who are antithetical to the way of Jesus sought to have and maintain their authority through force, intimidation, and violence. It is a way of being which is contrary to everything we know of Jesus, the values of the Kingdom of God, and the rule of love for neighbor. While I had no influence over what happened before my lifetime and hardly any influence on what happens in the public arena during my lifetime, I do have influence over my own thoughts, choices, and actions. I renew my commitment to seek truth, grow in kindness, and stand up as lovingly and
clearly as I know how when confronted with evil. This feels like one of those stand up moments.
Your Pastor,
Daniel
dsmoak@wpccharleston.org