I had planned in this blog to avoid comments on the contentious political scene, but the speech on race by Barack Obama this week (March 18) is too important and moving to ignore.
Like the candidate himself, the speech is thoughtful and inspirational. It is the speech of a healer who, addressing both black and white audiences, says that anger over injustice is understandable, "grounded in legitimate concerns." To deny this reality, says Obama, is to block the path to understanding. We can "embrace the burdens of the past without becoming victims of the past," he writes.
There is a clear Christian lesson behind Obama's carefully crafted words: we can still love those who say hateful things. We must not hate our enemies but love them, even in their terrible imperfections. Love, as Flannery O'Connor wrote, is the effort to understand.
I am grateful that we have, for the first time in this generation, a political leader who has written, in his own voice, with his own words, and from his own soul, a magisterial document that transcends the politics of the moment.
However this election turns out, we have in Barack Obama a unique healer and bridge-builder who has already made the country stronger by the power of his words.