He doth give His joy to all:
He becomes an infant small,
He becomes a man of woe,
He doth feel the sorrow too.
Think not thou canst sigh a sigh,
And thy Maker is not by:
Think not thou canst weep a tear,
And thy Maker is not near.
O He gives to us His joy,
That our grief He may destroy:
Till our grief is fled and gone
He doth sit by us and moan.
– William Blake, On Another’s Sorrow
In the moving film, Selma, a grandfather grieves the unconscionable murder of his young grandson, Jimmie Lee Jackson, 26, in 1965. Mr. Jackson was killed by a highway patrolman during a peaceful march that became a bloody and brutal assault during the Civil Rights effort to assure our Nation’s African-American citizens the right to vote.
As the grandfather weeps after identifying the body in the Coroner’s Office, he is approached by Martin Luther King who simply acknowledges there are no words for a time such as this but he assures the aging, despondent man that it was God who was the first to shed a tear when Jimmie Lee was shot.
People have different thoughts on how the Divine works. Some would say even in the worst of circumstances, such as this, that it is just God’s will. Or we are being tested.
For me, I believe The Divine gives us the freedom to choose whether we uplift our fellow human beings with acts of kindness and mercy or whether we make poor choices of oppression, unkindness and even unlawful acts against others. The Divine has given us the decision-making rights and either way will sit by us in joy or in sadness.
Yet good often comes out of deep sadness, violence or wrongdoing. Jimmie Lee Jackson did not die in vain. In fact, his life provided a solid inspiration and determination for the Civil Rights work to move forward.
Although he and many others suffered during this great movement, there was victory when the great march from Selma to Birmingham ended on the Alabama Capitol steps and Martin Luther King and thousands of others, black and white, of all religions, celebrated and President Johnson did the right thing to initiate the legislation allowing the unencumbered right to vote for all citizens of our country.
We have come a long way and we have a long way to go. The Divine is counting on us. I believe a Spark of The Divine resides in us all. And we have the responsibility to do the best we can to make our Spark one that unites us all in love, in peace and in countless, random and over the top acts of kindness and goodness every day.