The Truth Shall Set You Free

Feb 28, 2022

 

I remember American History taught in my fourth grade in the late 1940s as myths like “George Washington never told a lie,” “we’re the good guys” and more like it, idealized versions of our history. Today, as so many schools are under fire by parents and conservatives in our country who still want to whitewash our history again, I want to remind us all that Jesus said, “The truth shall set you free!”[John 8:32] It took me many years before I could begin to see our country and some real basic faults that were nothing like the “We’re the good guys!” that I was taught. It was the O.J. Simpson trial in 1995 which really opened my eyes to the injustices in our justice system, especially, the jury consultants that screened jury members for the accused or the prosecution in order to bring about the desired verdict for that side. Still, today we are teaching a glamorized history of the United States. And now, many groups are trying to whitewash even that.

 

So our children and youth are still learning what a wonderful country we are. No one is taught through the lens of the African American and all that slavery meant to him or her. Or through the eyes of the American Indian whose land was stolen for him. Or through the eyes of the Latino workers who have toiled so hard in our agricultural settings, but were not treated well or offered citizenship. Or the Asians who have been here for about two centuries. It’s not just the chattel slavery where one man and his family owned many slaves who did all the work on the plantations and in the house. We’re not telling the truth about the regular sexual assaults, the work of children, the separation of families and more.

 

As long as we ignore and don’t teach the truth about each of these groups and what they have endured here, we white people are bound up in lies which we then project on to the “other” as our fear of their retaliation on us. It was us taking over the American Indian’s land and sequestering them in small enclaves.  it was slavery that built this great economy and that even northern businesses profited indirectly from the cheap labor of the South. It has been the Latino farmworker who has sustained our agricultural industry for the last century by doing the hottest, hardest work. It was the Chinese in the 19th century who were brought here to help build our continental railroad system, while working “in hazardous, unfair conditions.”[1] We interned the Japanese-Americans during World War II projecting that they were the enemy even when they had lived here a long time. They lost their homes, their jobs/their livelihoods, not to mention their reputations.

 

The prejudice we majority-white people have laid on all these groups says nothing good about us, other than we have never appreciated all that these groups have contributed to our economy and to our country.  What if we did tell the truth and apologized to each group for our  ill-treatment of them? What if we lived in the truth about our history for the first time since our country was founded? What would we lose? And what would we gain?

 

We would have to give up our defensiveness which covers our own sinful behavior and that of our ancestors here and acknowledge that we did treat these groups terribly and used them for our own good and totally neglected to care for them. We could look at our history, free of the sin, now acknowledged, and see the real contribution that each group brought to our country. We could live in appreciation and gratitude for what each group brought to our country, for the diversity that is at the root of America. And we would lose our shackles to the lies that have bound us white folk for the length of our history—we would be free of the lies that surround us and finally able to embrace the truth. We would gain a sense of lightness that acknowledging the truth would bring us—no more shackles to the lies, no more evil projections and fear of those we have seen as the “other.” We would be able to acknowledge all that each group has contributed to our country. We would no longer be enslaved to the lies. And we would all be, as the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “Free at last, free at last, thank God almighty we are [all] free at last!”[2]

 

At last, we could be the “melting pot” of people from all over the world; each group/race/human being seen for what they truly are: made in the image of God and loved by God. And then we would be living out our updated motto: “All men, women and children are equal!” No matter their race, or skin tone or education or profession or anything, we would all be equal, not just in the eyes of God, but in the eyes of all our citizens, too. We would have to toss the narratives, the lies, the projections that we tell about the “other.” And we could rejoice in the contributions of each and every one of us. We would be free to set a new agenda for our country, now that we are marching toward 2045 when whites will just be another minority. We could live in gratitude and joy for all the contributions that everyone has made to our society. We could treat everyone equally, in the voting rights arena, in the criminal justice arena and in every area of our national lives. We would be free of any need to “white-wash” our actions anymore.

 

Two Announcements

  1. I am giving away a 10-week journaling guide to Jesus’s Two Great Commandments. If you are interested and a 40-day journaling guide to the Ten Commandments. Email me at patsadams@gmail.com and I will send it to you, free of charge.
  2. My latest books, “Called to Help the Poor and Needy” and “A Study Guide to the Beatitudes and the Sermon on the Mount” are now in bookstores and on line. The first is about the more than 2,000 verses in the Bible which detail God’s instructions for caring for those in need. The second is a journaling/pondering guide to Jesus’s most complete sermon.

 

Questions to ponder over the week: Am I willing to live in the truth about our country’s history? Am I willing to acknowledge all that these various non-white groups contributed to our country’s success? Am I willing to give up all the myths and live simply in what is true about our country and me?

 

Blessing for the week: May we be the people of God who live in the truth about ourselves, our country and our neighbors. May we value and even celebrate all our neighbors. May we love everyone as God loves.

 

See more blog posts and offerings at patsaidadams.com.

 

Check out my other website, deepeningyourfaith.com for information about spiritual practices and more writings about the spiritual life. New posts every month. 2.21.21’s is entitled “Practicing the Presence of God.” Sign up to receive these as monthly emails at the website.

 

[1] https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2019/jul/18/forgotten-by-society-how-chinese-migrants-built-the-transcontinental-railroad

[2] https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/10538-free-at-last-free-at-last-thank-god-almighty-we

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