“In faith there is enough light for those who want to believe and enough shadows to blind those who don't.”
It's true, Herman Cain attended a Trump rally in Tulsa and then got Covid-19 and passed away. TMZ is making sure everyone knows it with their headline, "Herman Cain Dead at 74 from Covid...Attended Trump Tulsa Rally." Now many others are jumping on the proverbial bandwagon to blame Trump in some way for Cain's death. It is clearly, according to some, Trump's fault for having the rally. Some argue that real leadership would have not had the rally in order to prevent the potential spread of Covid-19. I am not here to defend Trump, but rather to expose this kind of faulty thinking.
Never mind the fact that Cain traveled a lot the week before being diagnosed, including a trip to Arizona where there was a spike in Covid cases. The question remains, did Trump kill Cain? That is what is being implied isn't it? Real leadership wouldn't have put this man at risk; that's the argument isn't it? Well, let's assume for a minute that Cain did get Covid at the rally even though they took everyone's temperatures as they entered the rally to make sure people were not showing symptoms AND that they were handing out masks to everyone.
Whose fault is it that Cain, a well educated man who led very large organizations rather successfully and made decisions that impacted large businesses and individual people's livelihoods on a regular basis, died? Never mind that part of making those kinds of decisions is heavily dependent on risk/reward kinds of analysis. Are we to now think that the government makes decisions for people as competent and capable as Herman Cain because people (all people) are incapable of deciding whether the risk of attending a rally and not wearing a mask is worth the reward of participating in a rally and supporting a candidate they believe in? If Biden had rallies, would the same standard be applied? I'm not sure if anyone noticed, but a lot of people are getting Covid even if they pretty much stayed home. Maybe we should be taking another approach.
What would Patrick Henry one of the famous founding fathers of our nation say? Patrick Henry was an excellent orator who spoke without notes and is known for one famous phrase, but there is more to his story. Henry was always concerned about the power of the federal government. He thought more power should remain with the states, in fact he was so concerned that the rights of the people would be trampled on that he was instrumental in forming the Bill of Rights which includes many of the freedoms that cannot (theoretically) be infringed upon. In his famous speech he lays out the difference between tyranny and liberty. Of course the threat at the time was much more violent and the enemy was much easier to identify. The enemy today is much more difficult to identify. Certainly Covid-19 is one enemy, but is there another enemy? Is it possible that the the very government that was founded to escape one form of tyranny is now beginning to show signs of tyranny itself? I can't help but think that Patrick Henry would think that is, indeed, the case. Instead of the chains of slavery (as Henry described it) of Britain's tyrannical approach we face the tyranny of a shutdown that was supposed to last two weeks and we are now almost 5 months into it. We are told to cover our faces with masks, stay home, don't go to church, don't sing at church, etc. Recently my own county has mandated masks not just indoors, but outdoors as well. As Patrick Henry said, "There is no retreat but in slavery" not to Britain, but to our own government. Henry further said, "Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!" I wish all of us could have heard that speech in person.
Herman Cain was a great man! Instead of recognizing his success and accomplishments we are now arguing about whether Trump killed Cain. Herman Cain was not a child or someone incapable of making a risk/reward assessment. He made his choice, as we all should. Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, that we are willing to give up basic fundamental liberties so that our "leaders" can make every decision for us? Are we now to cower in the face of a virus for which 99.6% of the people who contract it will recover? Are we going to politicize the death of a great man in an effort to blame someone we don't like because of his tweets or past indiscretions? I am no Trump apologist, but blaming Trump for Cain getting a virus is ridiculous and insane. There are plenty of reasons to attack and critique Trump if you want to, you don't need this. What is troublesome is not that Trump is getting blamed, but the underlying premise that people are incapable of making their own decisions regarding basic risks they are willing or unwilling to take. God forbid! I don't know what others may choose, but I will choose liberty until death comes knocking.
I echo the words of Patrick Henry. I don't expect everyone else to be willing to live with the same level of risk I am willing to live with. Nor am I going to presume that every one else's situations are the same as mine. That's why we need liberty to be able to evaluate our own situations and decide the level of risk we are willing to take for the kinds of liberties we want to enjoy. I would rather live free and die young than die old without freedom.
Perspective matters! Yes, I am very aware of the blight slavery has left on our country and the scars that remain. Like everything else, context matters. As I write this, I am on my way to MN to celebrate the 4th of July with some family and friends. Many black Americans don't see this celebration as a celebration of freedom since many of them continued to be enslaved for another 80 years. Last night I watched a young black man being interviewed and he said he would celebrate Juneteenth, but not the 4th of July. I understand why he might feel that way, but I would like to invite him to celebrate both.
Yes, it's true slaver was around at our founding and continued to be around and legal for another 100 years. As I am sure you know, many of our founders owned slaves. But contrary to Senator Tim Kaine's claim that America invented slavery, it was around for thousands of years before July 4, 1776. Africans enslaved other Africans, Native Americans enslaved other Native Americans, Arabs enslaved all kinds of people, etc. Of course, that justifies no one! It does give some important historical context.
The Declaration of Independence is the document that declared our independence and laid out some important foundation truths based on a Judeo-Christian ethic. Specifically, it says, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." Our nation was unable to keep what Martin Luther King Jr. referred to as "a promise," in its founding, but the promise was made nonetheless. Abraham Lincoln would make a down payment with the Emancipation Proclamation. Fredrick Douglas said Independence Day didn't bring freedom, but stripes to his back. This holiday was not his and not the black man's celebration of freedom that it was and is for the rest of us. Yet, Booker T. Washington, a former slave, was picked to lead a new school that was being started by former slave and former slave owner Lewis Adams and George Washington Campbell. Booker arrived at the school named Tuskegee near the end of June in 1881, 16 years after the Emancipation Proclamation. On July 4th Booker officially opened that school. This landmark moment, in some sense reclaimed this celebration of freedom for the black person.
Nevertheless, America had, as King put it, "defaulted on her promise." Slaves had been freed, but inequity still prevailed. In his famous, "I Have a Dream" speech King called to collect on the promise made in the Declaration of Independence. While racism and hatred will never disappear completely from the human heart (short of God's eternal kingdom), America is making good on its promise, however tardy and imperfectly. This holiday of liberty and freedom is for all Americans regardless of color. Some of have suggested that Juneteenth should be a celebration of freedom of black people. Indeed, it should be and I believe will be as soon as next year. I will join in the celebration of the day that those in Texas heard the news, some 2 1/2 years after the fact, that slaves were free. There remained work to be done to be sure, but that was a momentous day. Likewise, I would invite people of all ethnicities and shades of color to celebrate the 4th of July as the day freedom was promised and in so doing claim that promise as their own. That freedom and liberty spoken of in the Declaration of Independence was not given or granted by America's founding fathers, it was granted by God. It had been infringed upon in many ways, including slavery, for centuries and millennia. America's founders in their imperfect and fallen state caught a glimpse, however brief, of the heart of God. As the apostle Paul said, "There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male or female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus."
The 4th of July 1776 established a foundation of freedom upon which a nation of liberty could be built. When we celebrate independence, we do so realizing that freedom and liberty with all its responsibilities and duties is an ideal we strive for and have made progress towards.
John Byrne is a pastor who has been spouting off his opinions his entire life (just ask his mom). This little blog is his venue for continuing in this tradition.