Hope Lives in the Promised Land

November 12, 2008 at 4:02 pm Leave a comment

I used to try to make Rev. Martin Luther King into a Christ figure, but lately have been amazed at how his story lines up with the later life of Moses. Moses gave the hope to the Hebrews that they would indeed have a place in this world, while King assured black people that their hope for equal place in society was sound. Just before he was killed, he had expanded his movement after realizing that social justice involved all colours, not just the black folk. The recent American election has people saying that King’s dream has been realized. Let’s turn our gaze to a parking lot in downtown Toronto:

It’s wonderful how hope changes things. A grizzled, grungy man, known on the street as Dancing Danny, sits at the edge of a parking lot in his ‘home’; a discarded refrigerator box set against the wall of a seedy building. Like last night, today’s weather is balmy, but his sense of well being isn’t due to the weather. Barak Obama has won the American election last night. Even Danny sluggishly catches the vibe that a yearned for change has come and it will bode well for those in life’s gutter. Panhandling will get back to being easier as everyone’s lot improves. Riches and happiness will trickle down and make life better. Two prosperous black businessmen step into Danny’s ‘living room’ to retrieve their BMW. Although almost treading on him, they don’t acknowledge Danny’s existence. They are thrilled and discuss last night’s American election while carefully loading their personal effects into the car. Danny can’t help but listen. The guy on the passenger side is saying;

Dr. King would be very pleased with last night’s results. I bet he is pacing back and forth in heaven with a tear in his eye and a quivering smile on his lips.

Somehow Danny knows King is Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The driver replies:

Yes, things have come along, haven’t they?

Sure has. Remember the speech Martin gave at the Masonic Temple in Memphis the night before he was murdered I will never forget that one part. Remember? He said, “[God’s] allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land.”  Those words gave me hope. Now, the Promised Land seems imminent.

Well, imminent but not quite here officially.

No, but I think Obama will make it happen. Did you see the tears in Jesse Jackson’s eyes?

Yes, very moving. And that look of pride on Oprah’s face?

And how about all those white folk; nodding, smiling, cheering.

Yes amazing. But did you notice the bullet proof wall? Do you think he will survive?

I’m not sure, but after years of doubt, my hopes are higher than ever today.

The men slam the car doors shut and ease away with nary a consideration of Danny. He dimly ponders the word hope as he sucks on the remains of a bottle of cough syrup he found in the hospital dumpster and thinks how much better life seems today. He settles back, crosses his legs as the sun warms his pained carcass and knows things will be alright. What a difference a little hope makes.

The jury is out on what change, if any, that we will see. One thing for sure though, the American election has given the world hope.






Entry filed under: Wrestling With God.

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