This is the first blog post, which was and is intended to be about my photography. However, with recent events, I felt inclined to skip it and share from my heart on the tragedy in Charleston, South Carolina.
As many now know, on June 17th, a young man went into a church in Charleston, shot and killed 9 individuals. He escaped and was soon found and arrested. I myself was unaware of the tragic incident until many hours later in checking the news, but didn't have time to get to read up on the details. A day later, I finally had time to read more about the story and it got me to thinking.
After hearing a bit of history about the church, Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal, it became obvious to me that this isn't just some random church. It has a long history of being in the midst of acting towards Civil Rights, standing up for others, and all of it stemming from the church and trying to live out the gospel in the community.
I saw a photo posted from the King Center, showing one of my heroes, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. He spoke there many decades ago, advocating for peaceful protest and nonviolent civil disobedience. He saw nonviolence as a powerful weapon to fight back with. It wasn't a weapon to use in anger towards an oppressor, but a weapon of love. With this photo, I got to thinking about how the roots in this church go back and what fruit they bear.
Martin Luther King Jr. took to heart the teaching of Jesus, that we are to love our enemies. He didn't consider love as a sentimental gushy sort of thing, but a moral outlook towards others. Martin's goal wasn't to eliminate his enemy, but to win them over in the name of brotherhood. If someone hates you, hating them back will not win and will only further the chasm between warring groups. Martin saw the wisdom of it. He saw it put to practice by people such as Gandhi, seeing it is indeed effective. He passed this on in his life, calling on his segregated community to do likewise in protesting towards integration.
Many say nonviolence is weak, in that it only makes you become further oppressed. But, in reality, it exposes the aggressor. When a community stands together in love, it is unbeatable. This is the community that can affect change. It is the community that can embrace a monster in the midst of hellish pain. It is the community that can take a strike on the cheek and keep turning the good cheek back. It is this position, that follows Jesus's example of loving those who hate you. He won many over even as He was rejected. How much has the church put this into practice over the last 100 plus years. Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal right now will show the fruit of love bearing witness to the power of the gospel.
In closing, I wonder, do the offended and afflicted find comfort in being told to love in response to hate? There will be a surrounding audience that cries for justice. They cry for healing and they cry for the guilty person to feel pain. And I wonder, in the midst of that crying, will they see the strength and merit of actions that can lead to true redemption and reconciliation? Can we see the likes of Pope John Paul II, who met his shooter in prison face to face, not to condemn him, but to forgive? Or like the Amish community who lost family to a gunman and later forgave him?
Lord have mercy on us all, and help us come together as a community that is bent towards justice, and also towards reconciliation. Shalom!