Monday, January 21, 2008

A Thought on Freedom

I mentioned my kids watched a video of Dr. Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech. Having been educated in the United States, I've heard that speech more times than I can count. This time, one point struck me -- nay, whacked me over the head, like I can't believe I didn't notice this before.

And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:

Free at last! Free at last!

Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!

Of course, he was talking about a tangible freedom, about all Americans having equal access to their rights. This sort of "physical" freedom is necessary because, as we've all heard over and over, all men are created equal. We are all God's children and every human being carries an immutable dignity that must be respected. The sin of prejudice comes in denying this, and the commission of this sin imprisons us in pride, hostility, and anger.

My brain kind of exploded when I realized that the sin of racism is very similar to the sin we commit anytime we create an "us" and a "them", when we invent a division that tricks us into thinking we're somehow separate from that segment of humanity.

Real freedom is the freedom to love without fear or thought of self, and this is the freedom we should be working towards. This is the freedom of heaven that begins here on Earth when we acknowledge our kinship in Christ.

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