Tuesday, January 20, 2009

This day

This bus was in today's Inauguration Parade

Dear Readers,

Whatever your belief system may be, I hope we can all appreciate the ending of The Rev. Joseph Lowery's benediction after Obama's inauguration today:

With your hands of power and your heart of love, help us then, now, Lord, to work for that day when nations shall not lift up sword against nation, when tanks will be beaten into tractors, when every man and every woman shall sit under his or her own vine and fig tree and none shall be afraid, when justice will roll down like waters and righteousness as a mighty stream.

Lord, in the memory of all the saints who from their labors rest, and in the joy of a new beginning, we ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get in back, when brown can stick around...
... when yellow will be mellow...
LOWERY: ... when the
red man can get ahead, man; and when white will embrace what is right. That all those who do justice and love mercy say Amen.
Say Amen.
LOWERY: And Amen.
Oh, my. What a prayer! Amen, indeed!!!

And oh, Rosa Parks, now that you have gone to your reward, may you rest in peace and THANK YOU!


  1. Laura9:19 PM

    To me Rev. Lowery's bendiction was the best part of a truly marvelous inauguration. Thanks for putting it in Meditation Matters for all of us to enjoy it again.

  2. I am white and did not feel offended by Rev. Lowery's benediction at all. I loved it! I thought it was wonderful and funny and real. He probably picked the word right from the saying "might is right", and "right" rhyming with "white" is obviously the better choice in the context than "might". He was playing with the words! What else rhymes with "yellow" than "mellow"? It was all meant to be humorous and light. I heard no accusations of anyone and no racism whatsoever.

    Races and colors exist. Unfortunately, many white people have been responsible in the not so distant past for the oppression and even extermination of others - Hitler and the Jews, the settlers in America stealing land from the Indians and giving them smallpox infested blankets, the African slave trade of the British and Americans, Stalin in the Soviet Union. Not all bad white people have been or are from the USA. Interestingly, though, most serial killers (that we know about anyway) are white - something to ponder.

    There are still many white people who are racist and/or who still fear people of color. The 9/11 event and all that followed in the ill-conceived and unfortunate "war on terror" created a new group of people to be feared - those of Middle Eastern descent. Many white people who had overcome their fear of black people are now afraid of brown people, and there are now countless new enemies of white people in Iraq and other countries in the Middle East.

    There are also persons of other races who have been oppressive to their own nationals, such as Mugabe in Zimbabwe, the leaders of the blood diamonds wars in Congo and Sierra Leone, and let's not forget Pol Pot in Cambodia.

    History is the best resource for examples that show that human beings, regardless of their race, are capable of terrible behaviour.

    The only thing we as individuals have any control over is our own behaviour. We are confronted on a daily basis with choices to be loving or not, helpful or not, forgiving or not, tolerant or not, patient or not, to believe the best about others or not. In the case of Rev. Lowery, I choose to believe the best about him. He seems like a really thoughtful, wise, and kind person - someone I wish I could have the chance to know and to call a friend - and I found his benediction the perfect conclusion to the historic event of the inauguration of America's first Black American President (not to mention the relief of the occasion of the end of eight years of misrule). I can't control how other people reacted to him, but I feel surprised and mystified that some people thought his words were racist, since that reaction is so different from my own.

  3. Anonymous12:44 PM

    I too enjoyed the Reverend's benediction and was thrilled as well about the bus dedicated to Rosa Parks, who in my estimation is the true genius and hero of the Civil Rights movement. When asked recently about the 3 people I would most like to meet, she is one of them!

  4. To add a bit of historical information to this comment thread, Rev. Lowery's prayer quoted an African American blues musician Big Bill Broonzy and his song "Black, Brown and White." (http://www.broonzy.com/) Some folklorists think the words were a rhyme in black culture that commented on inter-racial racism that Broonzy borrowed and changed. Lowery has added to that folk tradition and borrowed again.

  5. Yes, Cathey, I read about that just earlier today. It's fascinating and quite wonderful.

    You missed the drama here yesterday. We had a troll on the blog - a really nasty person, sadly, who is (get this!) convinced that I am a "person of color"! :-)

    Anyway, I deleted all his posts and my replies and then enabled comment moderation.


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