America is built on the myth of the rugged individualist, that single-minded person on an inspired quest for wealth, fame, fortune, power and a life of ease. That myth feeds a lust for the most money, the biggest car, the biggest home, the finest clothes, the ability to eat in the best places and an obsession with taking care of individual needs and wants–to hell with everything else.
This philosophy and lifestyle also produces the downfall of the nation. America is divided today, with each group seeking their individual part with no thought for the whole. America today is plagued by personal vanity, greed, lust and an “I must have it all” mentality. These spiritual diseases are at the root of her failure and judgment.
Gone are the days of a message of sacrifice, a call to action for the common good, or asking what you can do for your nation. This belief engendered a pride and willingness to endure deprivations for something bigger than an individual ego or need.
Such talk today is derided as laughable and naÃ¯ve. But in truth it is service to a higher cause that puts us in touch with our higher nature and keeps us striving for higher ideals that will improve the lives of human beings.
For Black America–still fighting to free herself from the snare of White supremacy and oppression–fighting for a higher cause has sustained, inspired and advanced us.
Before we were put in the holds of slave ships, there were those who gave their lives to keep us from being stolen. Aboard those hellish vessels, there were those who fought, were killed and leaped to their death rather than submit to the most inhumane treatment known to man. Slave rebellions and the fire for freedom that burned in the hearts of the so-called American Negro inspired terror in the hearts of our slave masters. Harriet Tubman wasn’t happy up north by herself; she made 19 trips back south to free her brothers and sisters. She was devoted to a higher cause.
In the civil rights and Black Power struggles of the 1950s and 1960s, courageous men, women and young people put their lives on the line with a demand for freedom, respect and dignity. Our best religious, political, social leaders and thinkers challenged guns, burning crosses, fire hoses, police dogs, batons, National Guardsmen, threats, intimidation, violence and death. Why? It was about making a sacrifice for a higher cause, the advancement of the Black Nation and a future for generations yet unborn.
To see us mesmerized today by the cult of celebrity and blinded by the lure of “bling-bling,” it appears we have not learned our lessons.
In the days of Black pride and declarations of “Black Power,” the NAACP, Urban League, Congress of Racial Equality, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the Deacons for Defense, the Black Panther Party, the Nation of Islam and countless other groups and activists demanded freedom, justice and equality.
These organizations put freedom and justice for our people above any personal, self-centered or selfish desires. We achieved some success.
We were cause-oriented.
When we left the cause behind, we became disunited, confused and lost some of our power along with our passion and devotion.
We aren’t making progress like we once were and we often don’t know which road leads to progress. We seek material gains that can never satisfy the longing of a soul that yearns to be free. We didn’t follow the example of Jesus, who refused to bow down to Satan for a high place in Satan’s world. Our hope is lost, our bones are dry and we are cut off from our parts, the Bible says.
It appears that Satan has offered us material gain and caused many, if not most, to trade their high aspirations for a few pieces of silver. The cause of liberation for our people and ourselves has diminished. The organizations and churches that fought so hard for us in the ’60s are not as effective in the new century because of our unwillingness to put cause above personal desires, hurt or discomfort.
Moses represented a cause bigger than himself. Jesus represented a cause bigger than self and told his disciples to deny themselves, to pick up their cross and follow him. Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, exhorted unity, service to the cause of Allah and Islam, and steadfastness under trial.
Where are we and how do we get back on the path? One of the beautiful things about the mercy of God is that he offers stars to guide us at night and signs to guide us back to his path. The movement of youth and some elders to challenge the targeting of the Jena 6 in Louisiana for prosecution was a sign. The gathering outside the Justice Department to challenge federal inaction in protecting the rights of Blacks from abuses led by Rev. Al Sharpton was a sign.
The time has come again where our people are searching for a cause bigger than themselves. We are again looking for the right cause to devote ourselves to. What better cause than the cause of freedom for our people? What better cause than a cause that brings us together like a solid wall in the face of opposition? What better cause can there be than the cause of truth? It’s time now. The wind has blown on the dry bones in the valley, let us arise as an exceedingly great army, and fight for a cause bigger than ourselves. We cannot lose if we do.