They said to each other, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.” Genesis 11:3-4 NIV
I recently went to see the movie, Selma, with my kids. Frequently, I find myself referring to it as “Glory,” because I can’t get the Oscar winning song by John Legend and Common out of my mind. I didn’t expect the movie or the song to affect me in such a profound way. I grew up hearing the stories of our downtrodden people who refused to accept the hand they had been given, the names assigned to them, or their status in society. In the battles they faced for equality, they could have let it keep them in a place of bitterness. They could have let it take them to a place, mentally, where they fought with the very people who were trying to help and thereby, accomplishing little by themselves. They chose, instead, to embrace their fellow man in the struggle, working together to change our world, and hoping for a better life for ALL despite the bleak outlook.
God, too, knows the power of togetherness. When the people of the world got together to create a tower that would reach the heavens, he thwarted their efforts by changing their speech. I am convinced that God had no problem with unification among the people but he did have a problem with the why of their enterprise – to reach heaven. Not that they could reach it, lol! In my mind, I see the people envisioning themselves in heaven and being in charge of things. They would become gods. They would run it! So their cause was not noble, but an attempt to unseat and dethrone God, himself.
On this day, the fiftieth anniversary of Bloody Sunday, commemorated by our first black president, we pause to reflect the power of unity. Sadly, we have not lived up to the promise of the civil rights movement. Black Americans across the country endure atrocities and are still being denied their basic civil rights. Still, though, I am encouraged because that era gave us a legacy. In it, we find that we can do great things when we come together, as a nation, with one accord. Even, change the world. Let us now put our hand to the plow and finish the work our forefathers began.