Now I would like you to read the opinion of Armstrong Williams, printed in an editorial on Breitbart.com. Mr. Williams is a cousin of Dr. Clementa Pinckney, the Pastor of Emanuel AME Church. He is far more qualified than I am to render judgment on how we should perceive this tragedy, as well as how we should respond. I pray that his words will resonate with all of America, and that we will honor the legacy of his cousin and the saintly souls who died with him.
|Pastor Clementa Pinckney|
Pastor Pinckney was the real deal. He was always one of the bright ones. He did very well in school, and was called to preach at the age of 13. By the age of 18 he had become a pastor. After college he served as an intern for a member of the South Carolina House of Representatives. When she retired, Clementa ran for her seat, and at the age of 23 was the youngest person ever elected to serve in the House. In another unprecedented achievement, Pinckney was elected to the South Carolina Senate at age 27. In between raising a family and serving as a pastor, Pinckney earned at least two masters degrees. At the age of 41 he was just beginning to fulfill all of the promise his hard work and dedication had earned him.
But growing up back then in rural South Carolina we were just normal kids. Our lives were full of innocence, laughter, harmless mischief. Our community saw our parents’ offspring as the future potential at a young age. They said we were the hope for a brighter future. So when Rev. Pinkney and my brother Kent were elected to the state senate, this represented the fulfillment of that hope.
Some of that hope died yesterday in that church. The survivors, including my bother Kent and I, know that Clementa’s absence puts more responsibility on our shoulders to continue the work he had begun. That will not be easy. Pinckney was always a bridge builder. Everywhere he went, he was a living example of his faith. His sermon and his testimony was how he lived his life. He was affable. He was just. He could be trusted. As a state senator along with my brother, where he served on the senate finance committee, he was doggedly principled. Clementa left a legacy of achievement despite his humble origins. He did not allow the circumstances to define him. He changed the circumstances and made the world better. He was able to accomplish at age 41 what most people never do in a lifetime.
Our job as people of faith and those who are from the community of Charleston is to keep moving forward. We must grieve and we must heal. We cannot allow the evil that crept into Emanuel A.M.E. church to infect our own hearts. Even though vengeance may be a tempting thought amidst so much agonizing pain, it is best left for the Lord to right this wrong... To some people of faith evil is merely an abstraction, something we read about in the Bible but don’t really see in our daily lives. But evil does exist in this world, and it infects people with a spiritual sickness. It is one thing to see these things on television – whether it was the mass murders at a Colorado movie theatre, or the murder of children at an elementary school in Sandy Hook. It can sometimes seem like an abstraction. But when it hits so close to home, it forces us to confront the reality that evil does exist in this world.
All of our humanity was robbed yesterday. No matter what the stated motives of the gunman, whenever you murder so many innocent people it is a hate crime. But it is not about the race of the victims or assailant. This was an act of hatred against humanity. And so no matter what the setting or what the origins of the victims, when events like this occur we are all affected.
We cannot win against the onslaught of evil if we continue to be divided over things like race, class, gender, and nationality. We cannot be so easily manipulated by the devil as to believe that there is a black humanity and a white humanity. If anything this tragic event should be a warning to us all of the ultimate problem of teaching our children to hate another person based on their race. That goes for black and white parents, educators, and law enforcement alike. Teaching inferiority is just as bad as teaching superiority. Either allows one to view someone else as less than human and undeserving of being treated with human dignity. You cannot win a war against evil with a divisive strategy that destroys us from within. That is precisely what the devil wants.
In the absence of courage, fear and hatred lurk and fester. Hatred is the opiate which emboldens the fearful to commit acts of true horror... These times call for courage. Let all of us come together and honor the courage and sacrifice of those brave and innocent souls who were called to God. Let us put on the armor of the Lord and sally forth as one nation, indivisible, upholding the banner of liberty and justice. For only then will we be able to defeat the moral enemy in our midst.
I thank Mr. Armstrong for his wise words and for his call to courage. Courage takes strength and commitment, and I think it is quite apparent that it is going to take courage on the part of all of us to keep those with unscrupulous and immoral agendas from seizing this opportunity to spread more hate. Hate is not what Pastor Pinckney and his church exhibited in their hour of tribulation. And it is not what family members of the dead have shown, as they have voiced their willingness to forgive the killer.
Satan is the Father of Lies, and a Deceiver. He wants nothing more than to convince us that hate is the proper response in this hour of grief. But we should follow the lead of the victims' family members, who responded as Jesus has taught us. One by one, during Dylann Roof's initial court appearance, they offered him the opportunity to repent, and they expressed their forgiveness. In the words of the grandson of 74-year-old victim Daniel Simmons, hate is not an option: “Although my grandfather and the other victims died at the hands of hate, this is proof; everyone’s plea for your soul is proof they lived in love and their legacies will live in love... So hate won't win.”
Psalm 16:8 "I have set the Lord always before me; because He is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken."