Freedom and equality is an elusive dream worth chasing. It is the dream upon which this country was founded over two centuries ago. It is an elusive dream chased by European men seeking liberation from under the tyranny of Britain. It is a dream chased by emancipated slaves through the treacherous road of Reconstruction, Jim Crow, and Segregation. Freedom and equality have been chased by Native Americans on a teary trail, women announcing their right to vote, Latinos and Asians pursuing greater opportunities for their children.
I write today because this beautiful dream of freedom and equality to become a substantive reality for all Americans, transformed into a deathly nightmare this past week. I write for one expressed purpose; to stand with men, women, and children who have grief and sorrow, disbelief and amazement, anger and despair, in the hope we can realize what it written in these brief words, “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men and women are created equal and they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, chief among them life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
What we are witnessing with the deaths of citizens and law enforcement in Baton Rouge, Minneapolis, Dallas, and now Baton Rouge again is what occurs when we lose sight of the sacredness of the human being. Every human being who lives in a specific ethnicity, religious or non-religious expression, gender, sexual orientation, or nationality possesses a sacred richness of human personality. When I see you, I am given the powerful moment to observe eternal power, richness, and majesty reflect back to me. Yet when I forget the sacredness of the human being from the womb to the death bed-has no sacred personality, he or she becomes an object to discard or worse yet terminate from my existence.
To my Christian brothers and sisters, I say, you have the message of reconciliation. At this very moment you are the embodiment of a message which communicates in powerful and certain terms love reconciles those who create pain and those who are the recipients of that pain. Pursuing racial reconciliation as an implication of the Gospel is not a liberal, progressive, or socialist activity. It is an activity conducted by Jesus himself as he met with the woman at the well and healed the Roman Centurion’s servant. It is an activity expressed in the activity of Paul as this ethnic Jew took the message of the Gospel to Greek and Romans alike. Your time has come to engage in this vital human issue similar to abortion, standing with Israel, politics, and foster care. Your message is critical to the seizure of our elusive dream.
To my African American brother and sisters, I say to you in very certain terms; we are beautiful and powerful. We are the descendants of men and women who endured the trials of hoses and dogs. We are sons and daughters of men and women who endured the loss of economic wealth through share cropping and slave labor. We are powerful because we have within our spine a certain type steel that endured the Trans-Atlantic slave trade with bodies traveling in boats filled with urine, feces, disease, and the stench of death. But more than that! We have the intellect which has built great Pyramids, develop medical procedures, designed Washington D.C., and produced voices of music and writers of literature so great, heaven itself stands and applauds. With this in mind do not let your despair, anger, and grief become an opportunity for hate and derision. The sick brothers who took the lives of police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge and similar men who take the lives of other African American men, women, and children in our city streets chose to give into hate and despair. We cannot become the expressions of injustice we seek to eradicate. Love and forgiveness must be the operating means which brings about the realization of that elusive dream. Love operating within our human hearts welcomes our adversary so that he or she will become our great ally and friend. Love operating in our human hearts will “enoble law enforcement and other governmental systems to be more human.”
To my Caucasian brothers and sisters, we need your sympathy. I implore you to assume the posture of listening, entering into a relationship with your non-Caucasians neighbors which affirms both their personhood and personal experience. It is a tragic situation to see people grieving and seeking answers only to be met with statistics and phrases such as, “Just wait for the facts.” I just believe there are many of you-men and women of goodwill-who want to address with love and power the issues of our day.
Finally, to my brothers and sisters in law enforcement. We see your dedication to a very difficult work. Every shift you take a mantle and shield to protect and serve the citizens of our city. For than I want to say Thank You. Just like any group, there are those few who misrepresent the group and we are asking that you stand with us publicly and denounce such actions. You cannot remain neutral. At the same time, we cannot tolerate violence against our law enforcement brothers and sisters. Violence towards men and women who have freely chosen to stand as guardians of the innocent and act as guardians of those who pursue this elusive dream of freedom need our prayers and support.
In the final analysis, I can still hear someone ask, “What am I supposed to do?” “All of this death and division; all of this vitriol and vengeance…What am I supposed to do?”
Well as Dr. King once said, "I read somewhere..."
For my Christian brothers and sisters, I read somewhere, “He has told you what to do, love justice, seek mercy and walk humbly with your God.” I read somewhere, “Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.”
For my African American brothers and sisters, I read somewhere, “Lift every voice and sing, Till earth and heaven ring, Ring with the harmonies of Liberty. Let our rejoicing rise High as the list’ning skies.” I read somewhere, “Let my land be a land where Liberty Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath, but opportunity is real, and life is free, Equality is in the air we breathe.”
For my brothers and sisters in law enforcement, I read somewhere, “order through law, justice with mercy.” I read somewhere, “protect with courage, serve with compassion.”
In conclusion Arkansas, I have a great hope for our people. I have a great hope we will make it through the valley of the shadow of death and find rest at a table which has been set before us. I have a great hope for our people because though we may be weary and tired our head will be anointed with a refreshing oil of gladness. I have a great hope our sounds of weeping and cries of distress will become songs of joy and gladness. When we are at the table together and when we have been refreshed with the oil of gladness, then we will see a day in which the elusive dream of freedom and equality will be realized for all types of people.