Let Peace Begin With Me

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let peace begin with me

I could picture the poor blacks carrying stone after stone, placing them one above the other, stumbling, falling, getting up again as the whip of the white overseer cracked on their backs. And through it all they sang; songs of hope, of an escape through death!

ROBERT CLEMENTS

[dropcap]S[/dropcap]till remember a drive through Kentucky when suddenly my eye was caught by miles and miles of stonewalls alongside the road, “Built by slaves!” said my brother and I stared at the walls.

“Stop the car!” I whispered and as I looked at those flat stones placed roughly one on top of the other I heard faintly through the ages; sounds of singing: Agonized, harrowing, painful, it pierced through my soul tearing me apart with the sadness the words and tunes carried!

I could picture the poor blacks carrying stone after stone, placing them one above the other, stumbling, falling, getting up again as the whip of the white overseer cracked on their backs. And through it all they sang; songs of hope, of an escape through death!

Yesterday I heard those songs again and same tears that filled my eyes in Kentucky spilled down my cheeks. She, Eleanor Valkenburg, sang powerfully well and there wasn’t a soul in the hall who didn’t feel the agony the negro spirituals evoked. “Sometimes,” she sang, “I feel like a motherless child!”

I thought of poor child carrying those heavy stones more than a hundred years ago, looking up and crying, wondering what she had done to have become a beast of burden, when she could see white children playing carefree, she had to labor in the sun, drenched with sweat and shielded only by the way she placed the stone on her aching shoulder.

And when she lurched under the weight, the overseer’s whip set her straight!

As the car started again that day in Kentucky I thanked God slavery was now dead at least in America, but tyranny reigns! Tyranny: Where cruel, brutal kings and dictators army and police force countrymen and subjects into acts that make them less than animals. Where a man slogs whole day still doesn’t have enough to feed family and himself!

Tyranny: Where words spoken to wrong ears mean death, where justice depends on money in wallet or whose son you are.

Still, in different parts of the world such tyranny reigns and whips of a different kind are cracked as walls of other material more severe and harsh than stone, are built.

Such needs to be broken down. The world needs men like Abe Lincoln and Gandhi to stand and fight! The world needs you!

So that a different song comes from our children; a song of a peace within from a peace outside:

Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me!

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