Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Prayer for Justice and Peace in Jena

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Prayer for Justice and Peace in Jena

Article excerpt

Last week's protests regarding possible racial bias in the treatment of six black high school students in Jena, La., who are accused of beating a white student into unconsciousness awoke memories of the civil rights movement in many people. The beating was part of a chain of events that began when black students asked for and received permission to sit under a tree where white students were accustomed to congregate. Not long after that, nooses were found hanging from the tree. Perhaps the white youths involved thought they were playing a mean joke, trying to intimidate the black students. They didn't have a visceral understanding of what those nooses represented to members of the African-American community and how their actions would affect their black classmates. I might have felt the same if I hadn't seen a traveling exhibit on lynching at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit, a few years ago. The fear, the degradation, the helplessness, the abuse of the victims, coupled with the animalistic attitude of those doing the lynching, left me deeply disturbed. As I walked the streets afterward, thinking and praying, I found peace in two ways. The first was the decision that I would strive to love more and to resist hate, all kinds of hate, and follow Jesus' example of loving even in the face of hate to the very best of my ability. But I knew this desire by itself would take me only so far. What I needed was a conviction of God's presence, not just helping me but also lifting humanity steadily to a higher mental and spiritual place, erasing division and hatred. The Bible's message that while we are to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling, "it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure" (Phil 2:12, 13) encouraged me. Those words made clear that God's will is for good toward everyone, not just toward particular races or religions. We are all His beloved spiritual ideas, and we are designed to bless each other. …

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