Remember deeds of great leaders

ople of America, the Ohio Valley, and even the world.

We have lost too many good men, women, boys, girls, fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters and friends.

Now we are looking at 2021, and by the sixth day there are challenges we never dreamed taking place in our country. Have you ever thought, could there ever be a time for you or me to disobey the government for some higher cause? Questions about civil disobedience have been cropping up lately.

Certain evangelicals have suggested that the time has come for Christians to stand up against immoral government policies. I remember seeing and hearing the words and images of Gandhi. He is still fresh in many minds — the skinny Hindu leading a nation in peaceful resistance. Others prefer for our country the image of Martin Luther King Jr. Meanwhile, we heard the news a few years ago from Russia of a Christian family that spent five years cooped up in the U.S. Embassy because their religion — Pentecostalism — was illegal and the government wouldn’t let them leave the country.

Ched Myers, a famous activist theologian, does some homework for us, ferreting out the scriptural precedent. In one of his writings, he distinguished between defensive disobedience and offensive disobedience. The Bible story of Moses’ mother was playing defense, when she kept the baby alive against Pharaoh’s orders. It was a protective action against injustice. The Exodus itself was offensive — an action intended to expose (or change?) unjust polices. Other acts of civil disobedience appear in the Bible in the story of Esther. First Vashti, the queen, refuses to put on a show for the king’s guests. Then Mordecai will not pay homage to governor Haman. Finally, Esther herself breaks the king’s rules of visitation to plead for Mordecai and her people.

Some time ago, it was reported in the press in England that a quarrel was responsible for the shutdown of the electric supply for one of the northern towns. Out went the lights, off went the machinery, and the whole area was covered with darkness and idleness — all because of a little quarrel. The engineers could discover nothing wrong with the electric system. They finally discovered that a quarrel between two crows had caused the shutdown. They were lying right under the electric wires, and it was clear that the two crows had been killed by the electric current. The engineers said that one of the crows must have perched on the negative wire and the other on the positive wire. A crow quarrel must have followed, and they pecked each other, causing a short circuit. The current did not disturb the crows so long as they left each other alone. ut who can have a quarrel without sooner or later taking a peck?

No wonder Dr. Martin L. King Jr. once said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only love can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

He went on to say at another time, “Returning violence for violence, multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.”

That is the reason if someone in your office or plant is nasty to you, you should ask yourself should you be nasty to them? The answer is “No.”

Even Dr. Jack E. Hokanson, a well-known psychology professor of his day at Florida State University at Tallahassee, Fla., claims that to be true. He says the common practice of letting off steam when you get angry may be the wrong thing to do. While there are theories that frustrated people should open the floodgates and pour out their anger, Hokanson’s feelings are just the opposite.

“Aggressive behavior only breeds more aggressive behavior. It doesn’t solve problems between people,” he said.

Dr. Hokanson feels the best way to change aggressive habits is to hold back when provoked and then to analyze the situation. He said a provoked person should try to understand the other person’s motives and try to deal with them in a humane way.

“Learning non-aggressive ways is actually more effective in breaking the circuit of hostility than ventilating hostile feelings. It’s good for the individual ,and it’s good for society,” Dr. Hokanson said.

I believe that is why Dr. King said, “At the center of non-violence stands the principle of love.”

He continued and said, “Non-violence is not sterile passivity, but a powerful moral force which makes for social transformation.”

The last time I went to Birmingham, Ala., my wife and I went to the jail where Dr. King was held. The actual jail is torn down now, but there is a plaque at the location of where his cell would have been located. Dr. King addresses civil disobedience in his 1963 letter from a Birmingham jail. It said, “We can never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was ‘legal’ and everything the Hungarian freedom fighters did in Hungary was ‘illegal’ to aid and comfort a Jew in Hitler’s Germany. But I am sure that if I had lived in Germany during that time, I would have aided and comforted my Jewish brothers even though it was illegal.” May we all remember the spirit of Dr. King, even when he spoke at the March On Washington, with over 100,000 people in attendance. Not one act of violence all day!

Please let me close by mentioning another great man in my eyes, Mike Myer, the former editor of The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register. In 1990 he was kind enough to meet with me about no local people of color writing columns. He gave me a chance. I will always be grateful to a “superman without a cape.” God bless America!


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