Mea culpa. I am guilty. This nation is guilty.
That disgusting news clip of a man, who is old enough to know better, raising his fist and shouting “white power,” shows how many still do not see our collective and personal sin.
God does, and we deserve his wrath. Yet those who follow his commands, know that every person, unique and loved by him, deserves to be treated with dignity and care.
Introducing Anthony Benezet
Such a person was Anthony Benezet (1713-1784), a teacher in 18th century Philadelphia. He and his family were French Huguenots when Louis XIV replaced the Edict of Nance with the Edict of Fontainebleau. That made the Protestant Reformed Church prohibited, and members were to convert to Catholicism. Instead, his family fled to Holland, and then to England. There, Benezet became familiar with the Quakers and eventually joined them when he emigrated to America. He believed their practices were closely aligned with Jesus’ commands.
18th Century Influencer and Activist
Benezet defended the Native Americans, even as the settlers, and later the government, stole their land and tried to bury their culture. He was highly educated for his time, and became a teacher in Philadelphia. Disturbed that girls were given an inferior education, if any at all, he founded one of the first schools for girls in the 13 colonies. He taught there for many years, using kinder classroom methods than the harsh ones in vogue at the time.
Four aspects of Quakerism informed his actions.
- God is in everyone and anyone can understand the Bible.
- Just because your forbears were slaves, does not mean you must be.
- He was against ostentatious wealth.
- He believed in peace and wrote letters to promote peace internationally.
Fighting Slavery and White Supremacy
Most of all, he fought slavery and influenced William Wilberforce with his writings. As if that were not enough, he taught black children reading, writing, arithmetic, and instructed them in morality. He did so in his own home until he raised funds to establish a school with 22 black children enrolled. Wiser than many today, he knew blacks “possessed intellectual powers by no means inferior to any other portion of mankind.”
If you want to dig deeper, my sources for this blog include the Christian History Institute and a few websites. I joined the Christian History Institute because I’m interested in Christian History. You would think it would be full of uplifting spiritual piety, but Christian History includes schisms, murder, power struggles, and battles too. As a member of the Institute, I receive beautifully designed, glossy magazines with articles with photos. Also, a Daily Story arrives every day in my email, and Anthony Benezet by Dan Graves was the topic for June 28. https://christianhistoryinstitute.org/magazine
This pandemic has highlighted our sins big time. First, the way we treat others, and our historic sins against black people and Native Americans. Secondly, this virus, and others to come, are and will be, a result of the way we treat animals. They live horrid, disease ridden, lives, jammed into cages and fed whatever is cheapest. This so the meat industry can produce, package and sell as much meat as possible for consumption and profit. I thought, when the pandemic forced closure of several meat packing operations, Americans would discover the benefits and great taste of a plant-based diet. Alas, that was not to be.
Finally, we have so polluted our planet that some climatologists believe global warming will take us out within 100 years.
I have no control over CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operations) or global warming, but I can love all people as Jesus would, and embrace the truth that black lives do matter. I agree that all lives matter, but we owe our black brothers and sisters, as well as Native Americans, so much more because “white power” persecuted them, enslaved them, and tried to crush them.
Mea culpa, Mea culpa, Mea maxima culpa.
 The Uninhabitable Earth – Life After Global Warming, David Wallace-Wells © 2019, Tim Dugan Books, New York.