American Experience: Freedom Riders. I said to someone afterward that it showed us human beings at our best and at our worst -- the hate-filled bullying of the mobs terrified at the prospect of their world changing, and the courageous daring of the riders, putting themselves on the line to ensure that that change did, indeed, come.
And I truly found both groups to be nearly incomprehensible to me, if I'm completely honest. I'm gad to say that I can't imagine being so blinded by hate and fear that I could be as cruelly violent as were those southern mobs; yet I also have to admit that I don't know if I would have had the kind of courage and commitment shown by those (mostly) kids. I guess this means I'm somewhere in the middle between our "best" and "worst."
I'd written earlier about my intention to read through the Bible this year using a One Year Bible to guide my readings. Well . . . the best laid plans and all that. Let's just say that I'm a little behind. But I am catching up again. For the past few days my Gospel readings have been from the end of Matthew. And as I read about Pilate's soldiers taunting Jesus, and beating him, and being so violently contemputous I found myself flashing on those scenes from Freedom Riders of those mobs in those bus stations in Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi. The same kind of malicious hatefulness.
The same kind of fear, then? The message of radically inclusive community that Jesus offered then was, indeed, something quite dangerous to those bonded to the status quo. Come to think of it, it was that same message those freedom riders were bringing in that summer of 1961.
It's a message we still need to side with today.