Just finished Edward P. Jones’ Pulitzer Prize winning novel, The Known World. The book is about slavery in the southern United States – specifically about freed slaves that became prosperous and then took on slaves of their own. In one chapter three patrolmen come across a freed slave named Augustus that they don’t think has shown them the proper respect. So, they sell him back into slavery. One of the patrolmen named Barnum objects, but only mildly. He knows the gravity of the injustice, but is afraid to take a stand. He does not want to be perceived as taking the side of the black man.
A few weeks later Barnum gets all liquored up and confesses to his boss, sherriff John Skiffington. He is upset with himself and yearns for an easier way to stick up for the truth…
“… A body should be able to stand under some… some kinda light and declare what he knows without retribution. There should be some kinda lantern, John, that we can stand under and say, ‘I know what I know and what I know is God’s truth,’ and then come from under the light and nobody make any big commotion bout what he said. He could say it and just get on about his business… There should be that kinda light, John. I regret what happened to Augustus.”
Thoughts, Joe and Wanda?
Joe Kerr: That’s nice. Thanks for sharing. I watched a re-run of COPS last night. There were lots of arrests.
Wanda B. Goode: It would be a lot easier to do the right thing if we weren’t so concerned about what others think. So often we go with the flow rather than taking a stand. Problem is when we do, if we are anything like Barnum, it will eat away at us. Much better to make some waves every once in a while and pave the way for others to do the same. It’s never easy, but that’s one way to make it easier. Blaze the trail for others to follow.
Here is a related post…
Leaders and the Four Fatal Fears