Friday, January 14, 2011

Making a Difference...

On January the 8th, as we all know by now, Gabrielle Giffords, a Democratic Congresswoman was shot, along with 14 others. There were 6 fatalities, including a nine year old girl. The individual who pulled the trigger is emerging in the ongoing news reports as a deeply disturbed incoherent person with no obvious political affiliation. This tragedy has driven an already politically polarized country into hysteric division, hateful rhetoric and deep bitterness. This got me to thinking about the rhetoric, the anger, the brewing violence. And what changes these things. What makes a difference. Not more violence, or hate or anger, or lashing back.

This took me back to my visit - pilgrimage, really - to the Civil Rights Memorial in Montgomery, Alabama in 2009. It was pouring rain the day we arrived there, and the water pouring from the sky mingled with the water  streaming across the sculpture in a way that was indescribably powerful.

The Civil Rights Water Table was created by artist/architect Maya Lin (also the creator of the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington DC and the Women's Table at Yale University) in memoriam to another great time of hate, rhetoric, violence and change - the 1955 - 1968 Civil Rights Movement that sought to end racial discrimination and segregation in America.

The quote on the great black wall of the memorial comes from Martin Luther King Jr's "I Have a Dream" speech; he in turn drew these words from Amos 5:24 in the Bible.

On the Table are carved the names of 40 people who were martyrs, one way or another for the Civil Rights Movement. Here is Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's assassination listed....

Rosa Parks, who's refusal to give up her seat at the demand of the bus driver in order to seat the white passengers led to her arrest and the bus boycott...her statement later: "I would have to know for once and for all what rights I had as a human being and a citizen."

William Lewis Moore, who staged one man marches protesting segregation. On his last march he was shot and murdered. "...the white man cannot be truly free himself until all men have their rights...Be gracious and give more than is immediately demanded of you..." it is worth noting that Moore was white.

Water from the table sculpture mixing with the pouring rain...

In this decade, and time, also trouble with hate, angry rhetoric, violence and murder, I only have one quiet voice. It will not ever be heard nationally, what I say will not be remembered or known in posterity...

I have only my hands and such gifts that I have been given...I do not have the talent or the reach of a Maya Lin to change consciousness and provoke thought on a national or global level...

I have only what I can say each day to one person at at time, I have only what my hands can do to the extant of the gifts given do justice, and to love reject the language of hate and violence. and give back the Grace that is given to me...

May God grant that it be enough.


  1. Beautiful post, Cameron! Maya Lin is a genius at meaningful public art.

  2. "I am only one. But still, I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something. and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do."
    - Edward Everett Hale

  3. Single voices joined together can form a choir.