Some of you may have seen the new map that's being sent around with the west coast, east coast and Great Lakes-bordering-states shown as part of Canada, with the remainder of the US labeled "Jesusland." I realize that this is a joke and a creative one at that. And believe me, I've thought it would be nice to build a bridge across the heartland to San Francisco myself. But something troubled me about the map and after thinking about it for a few days, I thought I'd share my thoughts with you.
First, if you haven't read "Ten Reasons Not to Move to Canada" by Sarah Anderson please check it out at CommonDreams.org.
Second, there are a lot of places in the red states that I'm not willing to give up. Not only are many places full of Democratic voters, places like New Orleans, St. Louis and Austin, but think about the food in Albuquerque, and the beauty and culture of Sante Fe, and San Antonio. I also don't want to give up the Grand Canyon, or the Badlands, the Rocky Mountains, or Yellowstone, the Outer Banks, or Key West. I know everyone of you hold a place in your heart for some spot in this country that now lands in a red state. Remember Willa Cather and Flannery O'Connor, and Zelda Fitzgerald and many other great artists and writers who drew upon the true glories of prairie or Southern culture. Let's not let those ideals be perverted now.
Last, I can't give Jesus up to the religious right. I don't think he belongs there. The Jesus that I've read about spent most of his time with sinners and told people to "love your enemies." Think about that. When has the religious right ever shown any compassion for its enemies? I don't think you can be pro-war and self-righteous and have any idea what Jesus actually said.
So, we need to stick it out and fight for our country as we know it can be. For inspiration, I'm looking to the Civil Rights movement. It all happened when I was little, so I'm trying to learn as much as I can now.
I've been thinking that we are sorely lacking a leader with vision and courage who can articulate the feelings that we all have to the nation. I've been thinking that we need a Martin Luther King Jr. for our times, and so I've gone back to read his speeches. The last one he gave before he died "I've been to the Mountaintop" is quite well known. You may already know it. But there's a part that really stands out for me now and I wanted to share it with you:
"...because the world is all messed up. The nation is sick. Trouble is in the land. Confusion all around. That's a strange statement. But I know, somehow, that only when it is dark enough, can you see the stars. And I see God working in this period of the twentieth century in a way that men, in some strange way, are responding — something is happening in our world. The masses of people are rising up. And wherever they are assembled today, whether they are in Johannesburg, South Africa; Nairobi, Kenya; Accra, Ghana; New York City; Atlanta, Georgia; Jackson, Mississippi; or Memphis, Tennessee — the cry is always the same — "We want to be free." And another reason that I'm happy to live in this period is that we have been forced to a point where we're going to have to grapple with the problems that men have been trying to grapple with through history, but the demand didn't force them to do it. Survival demands that we grapple with them. Men, for years now, have been talking about war and peace. But now, no longer can they just talk about it. It is no longer a choice between violence and nonviolence in this world; it's nonviolence or nonexistence.
That is where we are today. And also in the human rights revolution, if something isn't done, and in a hurry, to bring the colored peoples of the world out of their long years of poverty, their long years of hurt and neglect, the whole world is doomed. Now, I'm just happy that God has allowed me to live in this period, to see what is unfolding. And I'm happy that He's allowed me to be in Memphis."
Dr. King was saying that he was happy that God allowed him to live in a time of such turmoil, because only then can things really be done. It's like finally getting your house cleaned because company is coming, or writing an article the night before a deadline. We are in a time once again where we are being forced to face longstanding problems of intolerance, violence and injustice. It's dark, but that's when you can see the stars. Take some time to read some of his other speeches and reflect on what we can do now. This year on his birthday, do something significant in his memory.
Kim Barke is a pharmacologist, a medical writer, and an adjunct professor. She lives in the Hudson Valley and is working on a memoir of her experiences as an adult adoptee, email@example.com.