Love thy neighbor as thyself


“If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?” I John 4:20

Despite change in laws, no meaningful change can take place until the hearts of men change. This element is missing from our daily discourse. Sometimes people would rather destroy the whole thing than share. Our nation is literally self-destructing, and we still refuse to recognize that a house divided cannot stand. The walls of America are broken down, there are breaches and as with any unfortified city, the enemy has invaded and we are blinded and seemingly helpless to protect our land. Our filthy rags are now exposed to the whole world. Our integrity as a nation has eroded.

When the Constitution of the United States of America was written, some of its citizens were only considered to be two-thirds of a man. How could this be? The Civil War has been fought, a pretense at Reconstruction has taken place, the Civil Rights Movement has passed; new public accommodations, voting rights and school laws have passed, and the problems of our nation are still unresolved. Even as descendants of the great Roman Empire still wonder what happened, our children will stand on the heap of the United States of America and ponder what happened to this great nation with its great constitution and great faith? How have we imploded from within?

The Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s was a move of God in this nation. It was a time of unity and sincere hope for the masses. We have just completed a 50-year test and in many ways, we have failed. We have taken three steps forward and two steps backward. Instead of sitting down at the table of peace and reconciliation, we have sought ways to avoid assuming responsibility for our past sins. Our voices are now hollow like “sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal.” There is no love or sincerity in us. How many times will we pass civil rights bills, voting rights bills or fund equalization programs without giving each citizen the opportunity to fulfill his/her own potential as a human being? As a nation, can we reach down and pull the best out of ourselves rather than the worst? Can each man prefer others before himself?

Sure, we can eat at “Woolworth’s” now, but our families are devastated — strewn on the battlefield of the struggle. In our government’s master plan to halt the fight for equity, our leaders have been assassinated, our young men are in prison or strung out on drugs and alcohol; our cities are destroyed; and, the nation’s crime rate is sky-high.

Have we progressed? You decide.

Editor’s note: This is the second of a two-part column series. Joanna P. Edwards attended the March on Washington 50 years ago. To read her first column, visit www.pbcommercial.com.

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Joanna P. Edwards, Ph.D., is a retired professor emeritus of humanities at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. She is an ordained minister and is currently an adjunct professor at UAPB teaching Old and New Testament history. She lives in Pine Bluff.