Thursday, November 03, 2005

Rosa, your mission isn't finished yet

Rosa Parks honored by thousands at funeral in Detroit

At a time when black people in this country still suffered systematic discrimination -especially in the south- Rosa Parks' courageous and audacious refusal to yield her bus seat to a white man triggered a revolution whose seeds were planted centuries earlier. Awakening to the thunder of Rosa's simple act, other blacks, long abused and denied equal treatment by law and culture, rose up as a man near death who summoned hidden strength to demand justice from a capricious and negligent judge. Certainly Rosa couldn't have foreseen how prophetic and noble her actions would prove to be, and how glorious and grievous a blow she struck against the structures of sin and injustice arrayed against her people.

Yet the truth of Rosa's witness was not only about the God-given dignity of black people, but about the God-given dignity of every human individual, regardless of color or state of life.

But despite the prophetic witness of Rosa Parks and the gains of the civil rights movement in the United States, why is it that so many Americans today -black or otherwise- still are so blind to the truth of Rosa's message?

Among the prominent people who incensed the earthly remains of Rosa with luminous panegyrics and somber photo ops were more than a few figures -even blacks!- who have valiantly fought to defend the noble principle that women have an inalienable "right to choose" to have their unborn children torn to pieces and ripped from their womb. How revolting.

Many people risked and suffered much to secure a more just recognition of the dignity and rights of black people. How is it that in light of our national history, black people -or any Americans- can turn a blind eye to the silent slaughter of the unborn, the most defenseless individuals in society? How can the great-grandchildren of slaves fail to shudder in revulsion and rise up in righteous anger at the unjust law permitting any person to exercise an absolute power of life or death over another? If it is intolerable for a man to "own" a stranger as property, is it not equally intolerable for a woman to kill her own child? Does anyone think that the civil rights war is over and we now can relax?

I don't know whether Rosa Parks opposed elective abortion. Sometimes prophets do not immediately grasp every implication of the truth God speaks through them. But we need another Rosa right now, another Moses prepared to speak truth to power, prepared to confront and overturn any and every pharoah who defends the destruction of so many black and white children. We need a Rosa who can reawaken in her people -and all Americans- a thirst for justice whose benefits are not for themselves alone but also their children.

It would be a fitting and beautiful thing if this new Rosa were female and black. But any color would do.

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