This time last year I was placed on a journey to understand the complex nature of laws related to landlords, tenants, rental properties, and contracts. In real time, actually, it was a daily balancing act of understanding the rights of property owners, tenants, and the emotional weight of seeing and hearing families deal with the difficulties of transition. I remember clearly standing at our community center in Brookside an older gentleman asked us to pray for the landlord.
I was not prepared for that expression. I was prepared for the anger and frustration but what I heard was theology truly expressed and practiced out of the mouth of an elderly gentleman. He possessed an affection for God but also the soul of his landlord who was causing people to move in a short period of time. He persuaded me in that moment to finally believe it was possible to love one’s enemy and pray for the individual who had become an adversary.
What was significant about the moment was I have taught, lectured, and wrote on the importance of loving someone who was not like you. It was significant because a gentleman with little theological training, lacking credentials, and letters, became my teacher that day. I was persuaded by how he held on to this truth in the most difficult of circumstances. He believed this and now I was persuaded by this deeply held truth.
Fast forward one year, and now we live in a national circumstance. I’ll be honest there is so much information flying at us regarding where the virus originated, who was responsible, and how to respond, it becomes somewhat tiresome. What I am learning once again is that circumstance reveals what people hold as true.
I mean the news does not help reporting deaths all the time and as a consequence, our human mortality is placed front and center. What do you believe about your existence?
I have been perplexed by the number of people who have challenged the competency of the President of the United States, yet want him to nationalize industries. What do you really believe about the leadership of this man?
I have been equally perplexed how we can take an event such as a virus and attach some moral test to individuals. What do you believe about possessing a moral objective standard?
I have been dismayed, and I say this with all sincerity, at the ease people are willing to give up their individual human freedoms of movement, assembly, and businesses transactions in exchange for greater government direction. Now in some places people face fines and jail time for leaving their homes. Who do you really believe should make decisions for your life?
Dr Martin L. King Jr. who was assassinated fifty-two years ago this weekend stated, “"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of convenience and comfort, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” Most times I see this quote in reference to persons in positions of leadership but like my older gentleman in Brookside, this quote demonstrates it belongs to everyday people like you and me.
Where do we stand today?
What do we really hold as true?