The Bible warns us about wild speculation--or, more specifically--about "words without knowledge." "My ways are not your ways," cautions the Lord. I think that's most especially true when it comes to human speculation about why God might have chosen to act--or not act--as He did, on a given occasion. I encountered this kind of rumination over the weekend, when I heard a group of Christians musing on the possibility that 9-11 was God's "retribution against homosexuals." Therefore, since a major gay event was scheduled for last week in New Orleans, the Lord was, apparently, punishing the city by preventing the convention from taking place. Others predicted that San Francisco, by virtue of its large homosexual population, might be next. I reacted swiftly to eschew such talk, and so should you. No, it is much more fruitful--and much less dangerous--for Christians to respond to the need, and leave the reasons to God. Farther along, we'll know all about it, and understand why.
The same approach is true when the finger-pointing turns to the horizontal plane. Witness rapper Kanye West, speaking on a Red Cross telethon aired by NBC, claiming that:
"George Bush doesn’t care about black people. They [the military] have been given permission to go down there and shoot us."
What a dangerous and incendiary statement to be made by anyone entrusted with a national stage--much less, in a forum designed to help alleviate suffering! Instead, an articulate young performer chooses to blame the government's measured response to Katrina on a racist president, bent on the destruction of an entire group of Americans.
Sadly, we've apparently not moved past Jesse Jackson's equally-unfounded "stay out the Bushes" rhetoric of 5 years ago. Perhaps this can be the day--the grand occasion--when true healing can begin. Ironically, it was 42 years to the day before Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast that Martin Luther King so masterfully enunciated the answer.
Standing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington--August 28, 1963--the great pastor addressed the then-racial hotbeds of Alabama and Mississippi when he said:
"I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."
Today, many square miles of those very states lay in ruin, destroyed by a different kind of firestorm. But the opportunity remains the same. Might we seize the day, and work together to rebuild a nation where racial rhetoric is a thing of the past? A land where, indeed, "the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slaveowners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood?" We are honor-bound, at least, to try. And may it all begin, not with the discouraging words of hate...but with the uplifting rhetoric of freedom. The freedom to love one another...help one another...and most especially, the freedom to forgive.