Monday, January 19, 2009

righteousness like a mighty stream

(Warning: Diatribe from a history geek, dead ahead.)

Get thee to the History Channel, especially if you are a homeschooling parent -- or a parent -- or a human being. We recorded "King" yesterday, the new biographical piece about Martin Luther King, Jr. We are still on World War I here, so we have a while before we work our way chronologically to the Civil Rights Movement. My thought was that we would just hold on to the movie for while... We are half-way through it already.

Some would say I am a bad parent for letting my 10-year-old watch news footage of the Birmingham atrocities. Does a kid really need to hear the kind of sewage that spewed from the mouths of people like Bull Connor? Does he need to see a bombed-out church where little girls were slaughtered by cowards? You bet he does.

I feel a little passionately about this, yes? It is deeply personal for me, for reasons I don't care to share today. Suffice it to say that as a parent, I am proud of a number of things my children know as surely as they know the sun rises and sets -- not the least of which is that we all are judged by the content of our character. Skin color is never, ever a factor in that equation.

I kept having to remind my son that those brave people who withstood humiliation and beatings, who never once turned around and punched their abusers in the face (I can't say I would have been as gracious in their shoes), who adopted a mantle of peace and cloaked themselves in the blood of their ancestors -- they did that only 45 years ago.

Our children have to see it so they never let it creep in again. If they don't learn the difficult lessons of history, whether they are from the 1200s, the 1700s, the 1960s or 2001, they may indeed be doomed to repeat them.

Watch the movie. Read "Letter From a Birmingham Jail" to your kids. To learn that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere is a call to action, even if you're 10.