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Be Free!!

Here is one more example of Laura doing just that as she did every day during her service. This day Laura was headed out to the steam ship, she was hailed by a female voice. “Missus, missus passby dis yere way.” When I turned to the direction of the call, there she was, a very old, large woman, clad in men’s shoes, coat and hat, but wrapped in an old, parched skirt, sitting on a log.

Laura took her bony hand into hers and said, “Oh my dear! Thee is in great need. Tell me thy story.”

She replied, “Can’t tell how ole I is, only I know I’s been her a great while. You see dat white house over de river dar? Dat’s been my home great many year; but massa drove me off, he say, ‘case I’s no’count, gwineround wheezin’ like an ole hoss. He snap a gun at me an’ say he shoot my brain out if I didn’t go to de Yankees. An’ missus come out an’ say she set fire to my cabin some night an’ burn me up in it. ‘Go long to de Yankees. Da wants us, an’ you ain’t no’ count no how.’ An’ I tole ‘em, “Wa’nt I ‘count good many years ago? But da say, ‘Clar out wid you.’ An’ I seed some boys fishing’ on de bank, an’ da fetch me over.” ,

As she looked down so did Laura. She had no stockings and she said, “Missus I ain’t had a suit o’ clo’es in seven years.” Laura promised her “I will see that you have a woman’s garment. The good folks in the commissary will see thee has a suit of clothes,”

“Tank you, missus. God bless you!”

The giant old lady’s image was difficult to forget; and she made quite an impression on Laura. The poor lady’s head was bleached white from eighty to perhaps ninety winters. As Laura was waiting on the steamer, she shared her story with some of the soldiers.

One of them turned and said to another soldier. “That’s the same strange-appearing woman we brought over,” and he repeated the same story verbatim that she had shared with Laura.

Another soldier remarked, “Such slave owners ought to be made to bite the dust. Her master took the oath of allegiance to save his property. He has no more moral principle than a hyena to turn out such an old white-headed woman as that to die like a brute.”

Sad but true, Laura thought.

As we wind down in our series of Good Trouble, I am reminded why history should have such an important place in our society. We must always remember the horrors our country faced 150+ years ago. Brother fighting against brother in a divided country where sheer force won the day during the days of slavery. And then again, the brutal sheer force of war that was necessary to end the era of slavery. In contemporary 21st century United States of America, there is still a push to end the lasting effects of slavery in our local, state, and national government. Some believe this is best done by pulling down statues, changing names of sports teams, and teaching Critical Race Theory in our public schools. It is true that the leaders we revere, the names we use, and the lessons we teach make a lasting difference for the future of our next generation.

Yet, we must never forget that rule by coercion never changes a heart. If we attempt to cancel the culture of our history, we will forget those who gave so valiantly, so sacrificially out of their free will, so that we could celebrate freedom, faith, and family! We will forget the mistakes we have made as well as the strides towards freedom and equity that we have gained. Erasing the past can only lead us down a path of repeating it. Coercion and manipulation to change, out of a fear of reprisal, leads to division and threatening attitudes as we have learned loomed large before the Civil War. The only true, lasting result of coercion is slavery. Even our Heavenly Father refuses to coerce us into alignment with Him. He gives us the freedom to choose our path, whether it is good or evil. He gives us the choice to be in relationship with Him or not. Yet, it is the sacrifice and love that He gave to each of us, as He sent His Son to die on a cross and to forgive us of our sins, that leads us to true freedom. The only lasting path that we can choose is the path of love.

It requires the conviction of people of faith to live out their faith and to live in love. We are called to be an example living in freedom, following these seven steps of Good Trouble. If we choose not to live out Good Trouble, we are choosing to live a life of slavery by default. Is that what we want for our country? We can make a difference!

As ambassadors of Good Trouble, we can stand up for our convictions regardless of political party, and we should! More importantly Good Trouble should not reflect either a political party or a particular faith persuasion. No, if we are to make a difference, we must not make the mistakes of those with good intentions-but who tried to govern by moral superiority or force. This only leads to coercion. We can only lead through an example of love!

I am reminded of Todd Beamer and company, the heroes of the 9/11 US Flight 93 who acted out of conviction, and compassion. Their sacrificial leadership saved the US Capitol and the lives of our legislators there. Even though these heroes lost their own lives crashing near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, they were determined to do all they could to save others. Through coercion, the flight had been hijacked by terrorists; and the passengers on the flight were in desperate trouble. Trouble or not, they instinctively chose to do something good in the midst of evil. Now, you may say this is an intense example of one of the worst days in our country’s history. This is not a fair comparison. On the contrary, I believe we are living in an intensely difficult time today and unless people of faith, people of conviction and people of courage take a stand for Good Trouble, our country will not be here for our children and grandchildren.

So, the question remains, are you ready? Let’s roll!

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