Two weeks ago, when the movie Selma opened, I took three of my crew to go see it.
My boys are used to watching war movies. They are fond of action-packed flicks. For better or worse, I’ve let them watch most of the war movies that have come out in the past few years.
So, I was kind of surprised when all three jumped when the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church tore across the screen–which resulted in the heinous murder of four little girls. My 16-year-old son even grabbed my arm.
But that’s not what truly got their attention, although it certainly made an impact. Neither did the scenes of the beatings that occurred, nor the stirring speech from Martin Luther King, Jr. at the end of the picture, though they were certainly invested and listening–riveted, actually.
No, what rocked them was what happened after the last credit rolled (we stayed till the end. The whole crowd stayed till the end.) At first it was silent, and then we heard quiet weeping 3 rows in front of us.
We shuffled out of the theater–one of only two white families in the audience(!?!)–and I could see each of my crew scanning the people down from us, trying to figure out who was crying.
It was an older lady–who would have been a young woman during the years of the events shown to us over the past 2 hours. She was wrecked. Her family walked alongside her, murmuring gentle comforts to her that we couldn’t hear. And my crew watched with wide eyes.
They had a thousand questions when we got to the car.
Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. day, and it feels–different? Weightier? Something….
Maybe it is because Selma was just released. Or maybe it has more to do with the events of Ferguson, Missouri in recent months.
Whatever the case or the antecedents, my kids are watching. And thinking.
And, so am I.
But watching and thinking are worth nothing without action. Without movement toward justice. And we are all responsible for that.
I’ve begun reading Tony Merida’s new book Ordinary. I’ve just barely started, but his words are already convicting me of the importance of living out Micah 6:8 every single day. Without fail, in all of our relationships and actions and interactions:
Act justly in our interactions–in our businesses and places of employment, in our voting and legislative and government activities. (O, how often do I disregard justice by replacing it with self-centered, arrogant behavior on my part? How often am I eager to seek out justice on my own behalf and not the behalf of those hurting around me?)
Love mercy–in our families, in our neighborhoods, in our communities, in our responsibility to care for the poor, the orphans and the widows (James 1:27) and even in our churches. (O, how quickly I am to extend mercy to myself, and yet not extend it to my children, or my neighbors, or to the person bagging my groceries, or the TSA agent at the airport, or to the person who has wronged me, or to the young woman who is considering abortion, or even my fellow church members?)
Walk humbly with our God–the one I find the hardest, the most challenging to do–and yet it is the one that helps me to act justly and love mercy in a much more authentic way than I ever could on my own.
Merida quotes Dr. King in the opening pages of his book; a forceful, loud quote in which one cannot miss the call to action: “He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetuate it.”
But what can the Ordinary Person do in the face of so much evil?
Much. We can do much. We can love our neighbor. We can seek to live Micah 6:8. We can love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. We can encourage those on the front lines each and every day–police officers, teachers, shelter volunteers, social workers. We can actively care for orphans and widows, homeless, poor, sick, and the hurting. We can learn to better listen to each other. To hear. To see.
We can teach our children the truth that #AllLivesMatter
**Yesterday I heard the best sermon I have ever heard on this subject. I urge you to listen when you get a chance. You can find the audio file at this location: http://www.sbc-va.org/sounds/20150118.mp3