By Nathan C. Vance
Today, my heart aches. As I look in the eyes of my African-American friends, I see the pain that they are trying desperately to conceal. As I think of the literal kaleidoscope of people who have influenced the person that I am today, I am grieved. As I read about the fear of a Virginia rabbi who asked his temple patrons to exit through a rear door out of concern for their safety, I hurt. When I watch the news and recognize the systematic division of our nation, I am almost moved to tears.
Many are quick to stand and shout that this is, or at very least, that this used to be the greatest nation in the world. Our climate has become such that anyone refusing to echo those sentiments verbatim are either dismissed or ostracized. We the people of the United State love to speak of freedom as though our country invented the concept and has somehow monopolized it. Many in our land speak as though this nation was truly founded on the ideal of liberty and justice for all, even those of us who understand how patently false that claim was at our countries inception, and how false it continues to be.
Yes, the United States has seen its share of success in its short lifetime. Yes, our nation was formed out of necessity because of the tyranny that oppressed many of our ancestors. Yes, the sustained greatness of this country is the result of the melting pot nature of its inhabitants. But we need to wake up and realize that this nation has a curse on it. It was brought about by our earliest settlers and sealed in the very blood that has stained our soil.
The horrors of these United States started with the genocide of the Native American tribes that inhabited this land centuries before Europeans “discovered” it. Doubling down on these horrendous events, our nation took the land of those groups leaving only small parcels of tax free territories called reservations for them to exist on rather than thrive in. 250 years later, our culture continues to view these proud people as caricatures and our capitalistic greed pushes harder to take even more from them as though whatever end we come to should always justify our means.
Once the original colonies were settled the next abomination occurred. African people were torn from their homes, taken to a new land, forced into slavery, and bought and sold as property by smug, cruel, horrendous human beings. These people were asked to fight to defend freedoms that they were never privileged with. They were the modern day equivalent of the Israelites during the time of Exodus, and our leaders, our founding fathers, the pillars our of young nation, played the part of the hard-hearted pharaohs. This atrocity was so grievous that it eventually split our nation into civil war. Fortunately, the winning side was for humanity, and from that event, slavery was slowly abolished. But the mistreatment of people of color was not. Segregation and bigotry have persisted well beyond that, and in the disgusting events of this past weekend, they were again brought to the forefront.
Progress continued in baby steps for the US until the onset of the Great Depression. It may have proven to be the most singular act of equality in our entire history as poverty struck, and in most cases, that poverty struck without regard for race, gender, state, occupation, or any other natural division that exists within society. It was a time that our leadership took action and developed programs to progress our cause.
As we worked to solve our financial crisis, an international evil emerged led by German leader, Adolph Hitler. His rise to power came at the expense of the Jewish people whom he used as a scapegoat for the financial hardships of his native Germany. His Nazi regime was responsible for the systematic torture of tens of millions, and the death of between six and nine million Jews. US history paints our country as a hero to the Jewish community and pretends that our entrance into World War II was somehow the result of the Holocaust. The reality is that we never intended to fight a war in Europe and only entered the conflict after an attack on our military base, Pearl Harbor by the Japanese. This led to some of the darkest acts in US history.
During the war, paranoia and animosity grew toward Asian Americans and thousands were taken from their homes and placed into isolation. In this way, while the number of deaths was far less severe, these isolated encampments were no better than the concentration camps used by Nazi Germany. And then, there was our terrifying crescendo to the War with Japan in which we dropped Atomic bombs on the Japanese cities Hiroshima and Nagasaki. These are exactly the types of weapons that created the hysteria of the Cold War, and that strike fear in our citizens at their very mention even today. Our nation may act like the worlds beacon of light but, in these bombings, we proved how dark we can be.
In the 1960s, a modern day Moses emerged as a champion for the underdog. He spoke on behalf of his people, African Americans, a message of true peace, true equality, and true freedom. And though his central theme was for the equality of his race, he spoke on behalf of every persecuted group, and his voice gave their cause legs. Because of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., our nation made real progress in spite of itself. Dr. King was a minister of the gospel who exuded the love of Christ and whose life has profoundly changed the fabric of the United States of America. In this way, he showed himself to be the very best that we’ve ever had to offer. Because of him, we can worship together, educate together, and dream together. He united us! His death was among our greatest tragedies.
And now, 50 years later, we stand divided again, a nation in turmoil. We’ve reverted back to the mean spirited rhetoric that we founded our country on. The evil that has cursed us from the very beginning has made its way back to the forefront. And today, what grieves me the most is that we continue to look for salvation where it doesn’t exist. We assume that humanity is capable of overcoming its greedy, fallen nature and provide answers to unsolvable problems, and we’re overcome with frustration when that doesn’t happen.
So where should the answer come from? Before I answer that, let me start by addressing what the actual problem is. The symptoms of it are seen everywhere all the time, most recently in Charlottesville, Va, but like a fever it was only a symptom. The real problem is much deeper. Evil has a name and a leader and an agenda…and it’s not Donald Trump or the Republican Party. Contrary to popular belief, evil exited in the world long before our current president, and, as I’ve stated, it was at the foundation of our nation. That evil is called Satan, or Lucifer, or The Devil. This may sound corny or cartoony or ridiculous and may feel like too elementary an explanation for some, but it is a truth that I wholeheartedly believe.
Ephesians 6:12 says, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” While you may be reading and thinking to yourself that a non-Christian could care less what the Bible says, I would wager that the spirit world is real to many outside of Christianity, and that more than half of the world believes in Satan. As has been the case since the Garden of Eden, the evil in the world continues to be Satan, a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. While we see symptoms that are very ugly all around, they are only the confirmation that our world, our nation is shrouded by the darkness of the evil one.
So what is the answer? How do you cure a cancer so severe? I turn to the words of the greatest athlete of my generation, LeBron James, when he said yesterday, that “the answer is love!” He couldn’t be more right. As all sides dig their heels deeper and deeper into the metaphorical dirt, they spread more vitriol, and unknowingly, in their hatred, add to the darkness. But darkness cannot be flushed out by darkness, it can only be subsided by light. I’ve used this forum on many occasions to express my belief in Jesus Christ and his power to save, and again today, I’ll refer to him. Jesus very existence is love. He is the author of freedom and equality. It was his sacrifice that joined all people together with God. It is his love that sets every captive free.
I am saddened that many of the treacherous acts that I’ve mentioned have been carried out falsely in his name. Jesus has been made a champion for causes that are in complete antithesis of his words or actions for centuries, and yet, he is continuously given credit for the spread of hatred, violence and lies. His name has been used in vain, and sadly, the world has become convinced that he is an awful punisher rather than a kind and compassionate friend. And so, as I close this, I direct you to my savior. If you seek him, you will find him. When you do, you’ll be blessed with peace that is beyond understanding, joy unspeakable, and the greatest love you’ll ever know.
And it is on his behalf that I offer an apology. I am so sorry for the hurt, the bigotry, the violence, the injustice, and all of the confusion. I can assure you that his intention was to heal the broken hearted and break the chains of slavery. He is for you not against you. His goal is to give you a future and a hope. While many think this has been or is the greatest nation in the world, I can tell you that history would say otherwise, but put your trust in Jesus and God can bless America!