Sunday, March 23, 2008
It's morning in America. Again.
Despite the troubles behind us, the turmoil, the divisiveness, the strife, we face a future where our world could get better, might get worse. It all depends on us.
We look for leaders, heroes, in a time when there are few to be found who have been both tested and admired. This is sad for the greatest nation in the history of the planet, but more so for the planet itself. We wane as a power at precisely the time our supposed values should be transcendent.
I was watching a television program about Martin Luther last night, and the courage it took for him to rebuke the most powerful political force on the planet, the Pope, was something I needed to be reminded of.
Here was Pope Leo X, who was basically given the papacy as a present by his daddy, Lorenzo de Medici, charging Luther with heresy (at the Diet of Worms...there's something to be made out of that), demanding he recant his 95 theses, nailed on the church door at Wittenburg, and he said he could not, if God was to remain by his side.
The changes wrought since his Theses and that declaration have been staggering. If you are American, or French, or English, Or German, or a citizen of any nation shaped by those nations, you can thank Luther for your freedom, because by insisting that through faith alone and a direct relationship with Christ, Luther opened the door to personal liberty and freedom.
Moments like this transcend political power. They transcend doctrine. They transcend authority and structure.
They change the world.
Luther was one person who was at the right place at the right time. His thoughts were not original, but he had something no one else had before him: the printing press. The first mass medium. He revolutionized the world because he had the right tools.
Others have stood at that place: Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr, and Jesus.
That these are all men of faith is not surprising. It takes a man of faith to believe in himself, and to believe in what's right and what's wrong, what's good and what's bad, without knuckling under to the pressures of the secular world around him.
Note something else: each of these men had to remove themselves from "the system" in order to affect real change.
Or, as U2 puts it:
One man come in the name of love
One man come and go
One man come, he to justify
One man to overthrow
OK, so ML wasn't precisely in these lyrics, but still, all of these men acted out of love for mankind, to justify our existence here on earth, and to overthrow the unjust.
All succeeded, to one degree or other, but all had far-reaching impacts beyond their borders or even their centuries.
We must find that next leader to guide us through the dark times ahead. He or she will not be President, or king or queen. He/she will be one who can muster the bits of strength, peace, and love within us all to gather together in one flesh, in one being, in one group, in one movement.
In one world.
None of these princes of peace came to free the world, just a people. But none had the chance to free a world.
Except that they all did, a little bit, anyway.
It is on this day that we celebrate the Resurrection. In that spirit, may whatever being, entity or dumb luck you believe in bless you and keep you on this day and all days.