“The kind of fasting I want is this: Remove the chains of oppression and the yoke of injustice, and let the oppressed go free. 7 Share your food with the hungry and open your homes to the homeless poor. Give clothes to those who have nothing to wear, and do not refuse to help your own relatives.
8 “Then my favor will shine on you like the morning sun, and your wounds will be quickly healed. I will always be with you to save you; my presence will protect you on every side. 9 When you pray, I will answer you. When you call to me, I will respond. Isaiah 58:6-9a Good News Translation
Flashback to New years eve 2019 and so much anticipation for the new decade was overflowing. Hope, change, a new political landscape, or preservation of the present political landscape, and the continued increase of the longest economic expansion in American history, were just some of the fervor that encompassed this time. The first fifth of the 21st century had brought America from the horrors of the 911 attacks, through the great recession to the election of the first African American President.
However, the “canary in the coalmine” moment was words spoken at the beginning of the 2016 presidential race:
“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.” Donald Trump’s false comments connecting Mexican immigrants and crime Washington Post By Michelle Ye Hee Lee July 8, 2015, at 3:00 a.m. EDT
So many people were shocked at the proclamation of these words. Those believers in a “post-racial society” dismissed such remarks as crazy talk, and that America would totally reject them outright. Well, the rest is history, and it is known all too well. Don’t mistake this writing as an indictment of one person, but more of an open assessment of America. Those old ghosts of the past hidden under white hoods had found new homes under the rooftops of exurban homes, the cornfields of rural America, churches clothed in Norman Rockwell’s America, and in the xenophobic fear of “the others.”
As the reveling subsided into the new year and new years resolutions waned, the seemingly anticlimactic year forged forward. In the middle of a self-righteous ecosystem of “Make America Great Again” feeling itself. Wuhan Provence, China, was being overtaken by a Novel Virus, and the world began to take notice.
Meanwhile, America was under the intoxicating notion that American exceptionalism could shield it from any of the world’s ills, shortcomings, and violation of human or any other kinds of rights. Then, COVID 19 came to the American shores, first as a trickle and later a tsunami. Slow reaction based on “it could never happen here” metastasized into a dark nightmare of death and disease. The lights went out. The nation closed down with numerous stay at home orders. Also, America faced an economic downturn, the likes of which, have never been seen before, outside of the great depression.
The United States of America was forced to fast from the March Madness NCAA Basketball to the NBA, NHL, Major league baseball, and soccer. Grandparents were forced to fast from there grandchildren, workers from their jobs, Church goers from their services, family Easter gatherings, where dropped, and Ramadan gatherings were canceled. This is the fast that the U.S. found itself in.
This was far from the idealistic, utopian fast spoken of in Isaiah 58. At the same time, our decades of slow reaction manifest itself again in another rash of Police and vigilante killings of African Americans, Ahmad Arbery, and Breonna Taylor, among others. Then, under the knee of Minneapolis police training officer Mark Chauvin, the nation witnessed the George Floyd Lynching, and people began taking to the streets in peaceful protest. Yes, there was and is violence and crime by some unwelcomed agitators.
That darkness will never overcome the light of those voices crying for an end to systemic racism, police brutality, and oppression. America, through a display in most part lead by millennials in a multiethnic mulitute was finally beginning to wake up to the values and commitments of ending injutice and oppression by pressing for change. To this end, the dismal fast that America has staggered into was best characterized in the balance of Isiah 58 became deafening amid the silence.
“If you put an end to oppression, to every gesture of contempt, and to every evil word; 10 if you give food to the hungry and satisfy those who are in need, then the darkness around you will turn to the brightness of noon. 11 And I will always guide you and satisfy you with good things. I will keep you strong and well. You will be like a garden that has plenty of water, like a spring of water that never goes dry. 12 Your people will rebuild what has long been in ruins, building again on the old foundations. You will be known as the people who rebuilt the walls, who restored the ruined houses.”
Isaiah 58:9b-12 Good News Translation
Scripture echos the words of the late Congressman, Elijah Cummings, who said,
“We’re better than that!”
Kevin Robinson Executive Director Accord1