The third of eight anonymous letters to Rae, a young woman from Planned Parenthood who I met while trying to infiltrate her organization. As you read this, please pray for Rachel, that this would be one of those crazy lengths that God uses to draw a sinner unto Himself.
Hey Rachel :-)
You know, one of the things that I like about you is your compassion. You actually care about people facing difficult situations, yet at the same time you’re not a pushover – you’re not afraid to speak out against those you believe would threaten that compassion. I’m very much the same way; in particular, we both care about the racial inequalities that -still- linger on in our nation, even after all of the hard work of the civil rights movement.
Civil rights is an interesting thing to study though; I’ve been learning a lot about its history over the last year as I’ve been starting to speak out on a few issues myself. In the 1960s the movement underwent several changes in its focus and scope. It included other forms of injustice together with the struggle for african-american rights, and it also started to change its foundational beliefs. In its inception, the civil rights movement was born out of the movement to abolish slavery, which was itself grounded in Christianity and Christian thinking. Now civil rights has become largely secular, which is a significant shift. Because we both share an interest in civil rights, for this third Chanukah gift I thought I might give you an overview of the abolitionist movement that gave birth to our movement that has now drifted from its original moorings.
The included DVD can do most of the talking. It was put out by PBS to present the history of the abolitionist movement in America, and it does a very good job of it, so I won’t go into much detail here. I would highlight two things however, an observation and a question. First, you’ll see that the abolitionists were not well liked. They were constantly agitating everyone around them, disturbing the status-quo, making people uncomfortable. Slave owners didn’t like them, naturally. Politicians in the north and south, on both sides of the issue didn’t like them. Most church leaders didn’t like them, because they were constantly calling the church to repent of its involvement with slavery and apathy toward it. As a result, they were persecuted, mobbed, and killed; their homes and buildings were burned down; they were derided, falsely accused of various crimes, and jailed for their beliefs and peaceful activism. Yet they never stopped striving to establish justice and equity within the nation.
So a question arises, “What drove these people?” According to their own writings, it was love – love of the african, love of a neighbor, as Jesus commanded (Luke 10:25-37). However the love that they put into action didn’t always seem nice to the people around them. It wasn’t nice to the slave owners, or to the apathetic church and people in the nation. Because the abolitionists loved their neighbors who were being persecuted, they stood against those who were doing the persecution, and they were hailed as fanatics for doing so. Frustrated, William Lloyd Garrison wrote the following on his jail cell:
“Are we then fanatics because we cry ‘Do not rob! Do not murder!’?”
Of course history has proven them to be right, and quite sane, despite what the culture around them believed at the time. The abolitionists understood that love based on a lie is no love at all, and they sought to demonstrate genuine compassion to those who were being persecuted in their culture. We can learn from their history and their courage; check out the DVD; it’s a great watch, and very educational.
With genuine compassion :-)