Writer, Church leader, Eccentric Nut, Marketer

I'm Church Leader, Writer, Speaker, Marketer, Kindness Project Founder, Broadcaster and Superhero. But most important I'm a Husband, Father and a worshiper of Jesus.

19 January 2009

I'm glad Barack Obama remembers Jackie Robinson

I still think that Barack Obama is not your boyfriend...

...But

I also do think it's extremely cool that America has grown up enough to elect and love a non-white president. Really. That's very cool.

Second... It's excellent to see that Obama realizes he wouldn't be who he is without the people who came before him. And I give him credit for how prominent a role he's giving them in the "Obama Story". I still cannot understand why there has had to be so much conflict over the basic human rights of anyone who isn't white in America (and the world). I don't get it. I'm glad I don't get it. But it's been the cold reality for so many, for so many years.

But people like Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King and (one of my hero's) Jackie Robinson had to be martyrs first. See, because real change requires martyrs. A blood sacrifice. Jesus knew it. It's the price for the key to get free, live free, and free others. With Jesus, the issue of sin was conquered because of his blood. Barack Obama gets to live free because of those who lived and died fighting the injustice of racism.

Do you know Jackie Robinson's Story?

The Reader's Digest version is that Jackie wanted to see change made. He was a great baseball player in college... but he was a better track star and football running back. He identified baseball as his best chance to infiltrate an area of life that was closed to him and his family. So he played his heart out in the Negro Leagues. There were better ball players like Satchel Paige, Cool Papa Bell and Josh Gibson in the Negro Leagues... but Jackie was strong... and willing to pay the price for freedom.

Branch Rickey of the Brooklyn Dodgers, called Jackie into his office and told him that he had been hand-picked to be the first black Major League Baseball player. Rickey then went on a 5 minute obscenity-laced tirade, right up in Jackie's face. He stopped and said, "This will be what your life is about to consist of." Before signing Jackie, he made him agree that for a number of years, he was not allowed to say ANYTHING back to those who hated him. He had to be a martyr. A contracted martyr for a specific cause. Jackie agreed because he cared about the cause more than his own comfort. He eventually earned respect as a ballplayer from those who hated him. Well... many of them.

When his period of silence was over, Jackie was an all star... and began to speak back. Eventually he became a very vocal black rights activist... but fighting the fight was stressful and it took its toll. Jack died of heart failure in 1972. This was Jesse Jackson's beautiful eulogy for Jackie:

Today we must balance the tears of sorrow with the tears of joy. Mix the bitter with the sweet in death and life.

Jackie as a figure in history was a rock in the water, creating concentric circles and ripples of new possibility. He was medicine. He was immunized by God from catching the diseases that he fought. The Lord's arms of protection enabled him to go through dangers seen and unseen, and he had the capacity to wear glory with grace.

Jackie's body was a temple of God. An instrument of peace. We would watch him disappear into nothingness and stand back as spectators, and watch the suffering from afar.

The mercy of God intercepted this process Tuesday and permitted him to steal away home, where referees are out of place, and only the supreme judge of the universe speaks.

Jackie is one of my hero's. I keep a framed picture of him by my computer and often look over at it while I'm working or writing. It makes me remember about sacrifice, leadership, and what being a real man is about. It's about strategically and intentionally doing what needs to be done for others freedom... and putting your own selfish whims and comfort aside for something greater.

When Barack Obama is inaugurated... I'll be thinking about Jackie.

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