The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same
I finally saw the movie “42” over the weekend. The movie dramatizes the story of Jackie Robinson’s path to Major League baseball. Over the course of the movie, we get glimpses of the horrible ways whites treated blacks in the 40s, particularly the challenges Robinson faced as the first black man to play in an all-white major league of baseball.
“I can’t believe people used to be so mean!”
Everyone in our family must have said that several times throughout the movie. After all, it can be tough to look at our history and not find regret with the way we have treated people from different races over the generations. To our kids, a time when whites and blacks were purposefully segregated seems like the pages from a history book of an era around the fall of Rome! Then again, to my grandparents, it was just a part of life in those days. Nonetheless, as we watched the movie, we reminded ourselves that we have evolved as a culture.
“I’m glad we are not like that anymore,” we reminded ourselves.
Then, after the movie we saw the irony in our emotions: have we really changed all that much? In looking at the news, one would certainly think not.
The story of Jackie Robinson was possible because of, Branch Rickey, the President of the Brooklyn Dodgers at the time. Known as a man with faith (a Methodist, but that still counts, I think!) he often leaned on his understanding of God to guide his decision-making processes. He tells Jackie to have guts like our savior and turn the other cheek and that he will need to have the courage to not fight back when the anger of whites inevitably stares him in the face. Mr. Rickey also reminds us the Bible says, ‘love your neighbors about eight times.” By the end of the movie, I was wondering who was the braver man…Robinson or Rickey? Let’s call it a tie because we learn something from both men.
Right now we need brave people to have the courage to lean on faith to guide their decisions. Yes. It takes strength to turn the other cheek when we are in fear of terror. Indeed, it takes guts to love our neighbors, even when their presence is frightening. But life could all be so very simple if we used God’s word to guide us instead of our human instincts. If the Bible was our “go to” playbook and we had the patience to hear His direction, I am convinced our world actually would change for the better. Please understand that I want to live in a safe, protected country as much as anyone. But, I also want to be proud of my country as “one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” I pray that we heal, that we grow and that our leadership find inspiration and the courage to put our nation in line with where God wants us to be. I ask that our leaders seek a more prayerful and perhaps less powerful stance in the world. I hope we can exemplify righteousness over simple right-ness. And, most of all, I pray we can all be discerning instead of defensive in the days ahead. Amen.