Just prior to Easter weekend this year there was a mass shooting incident at a Christian grade school in Nashville, Tennessee. This senseless tragedy resulted in the death of three nine-year-old children, and the death of three adult staff members.
Young people, mostly Tennessee High School students, came to the Tennessee Legislature to protest the state’s gun control laws, which are among the least restrictive gun laws in the US.
In support of the student protest, three Tennessee legislators rose to the center of the Legislative Chamber and began to speak, using bullhorns, when their microphones were cut off by the Tennessee political leadership.
As punishment for this act of conscience, these three were subjected to mini trials, immediately, then and there. Two of the three legislators were young, 27-year-old black men. A third legislator was a sixty-year-old white woman, a former teacher.
The vote on the young black men was “guilty,” with the punishments being “expulsion” from the legislative body. The white woman avoided expulsion, but just barely.
As it turned out, the attempt to silence these two young black men was an abject and ironic failure. As all of America was about to learn, these young men were brilliant orators, who spoke with clarity and passion, highlighting violence and justice issues in Tennessee and America.
The words and expressions of these young men were resonant of Dr. Martin Luther King’s words and expressions. Similarly to Dr. King, the struggle for peace, justice and non-violence was spoken of in terms of spiritual quest and spiritual journey.
Martin had had a vision of “the Promised Land.” In a speech, just prior to his assassination, he noted that he might not live to arrive there, but that the movement, and society, would indeed get there.
The trials, difficulties and successes of these two young men, will, no doubt, be an important part of the inexorable journey to “the Promised Land” and toward the bending of the moral arc of the universe toward justice.
Important parts of these events occurred during Easter weekend. The words, the struggles, the trials of Jesus were not forgotten, implicitly or explicitly.
Like Jesus, these young men, in their quest for peace and justice, were found “guilty” and had their own “crucifixion,” as they were expelled from the governing bodies of the nation.
As the journey towards the Promised Land continues in new ways, and as the Resurrection of Jesus was a once, yet continuing event, we are already seeing the “resurrection” of these two young men, as they are being speedily returned to their elected offices.
Easter weekend, 2023 has profound lessons for all of us.
May we learn them well!!!