Thursday, August 21, 2014

Hank Sanders: Senate Sketches #1419: The Jericho Wall March

  Joshua fit the Battle of Jericho and the walls came tumbling down. This is a refrain from a Negro spiritual made famous by the late great Mahalia Jackson. This refrain came to mind as I contemplated an upcoming Jericho Wall March.

  The story of Joshua and the walls of Jericho is a powerful Biblical story of faith, unity, marching, crumbling walls and victory. We are currently in a Jericho moment. Therefore, we need the Joshua kind of faith, unity and moral action to bring down the modern day Jericho walls.

  We know of the Jericho March of Biblical history. However, I want you to know of a Jericho March here and now. It will be in Montgomery at the State Capitol on August 22-28. It is a moment of faith, a moment of unity, a moment of moral action.

  Allow me to refresh your recollection of the Biblical story involving Joshua and the Jericho walls. Joshua was a great religious leader, a great judge, a great general. God directed him to enter and secure the Promised Land, aka Canaan. However, Joshua and his army of 40,000 could not secure the Promised Land because the City of Jericho stood in their way. Jericho was surrounded by impregnable walls which could not be penetrated. Joshua received specific instructions from God on how to bring down the walls. Those instructions called for a leap of faith. He and his army marched around the Jericho walls once a day for six days. On the seventh day, they marched around Jericho seven times shouting in unison with seven priests blowing trumpets in unison. The walls of Jericho came tumbling down. Joshua took Jericho and secured the Promised Land. Joshua fit the Battle of Jericho and the walls came tumbling down.

  Some faithful souls in Alabama are now marching with the same faith and moral determination as Joshua did during the Jericho March of old. However, this Jericho March is in Montgomery, Alabama here and now. Four other states are also moving in that same spirit: North Carolina; Georgia; Mississippi; and Virginia. The faithful will be marching around state capitols in each of these five states at the same time on the same dates. Different issues will be featured each day:  Friday, August 22nd, - Immigration; Saturday, August 23rd – Education and Youth; Sunday, August 24th – Women’s Rights; Monday, August 25th – Workers’ Rights and Livable Wages; Tuesday, August 26th – Criminal Justice; Wednesday, August 27th – Medicaid Expansion and Health; and Thursday, August 28th – Voting Rights. Joshua fit the Battle of Jericho and the walls came tumbling down.

  This Jericho March was initiated by Rev. Dr. William Barber and other leaders of the Moral Monday Movement in North Carolina. Alabama was one of seven states chosen to test our faith by participating in this moral action because of the work of SOS (Save OurSelves Movement for Justice and Democracy). Two states dropped out but five are moving on faith.

  The walls around these state capitols are thick and impregnable, however they are not composed of brick and mortar as were the walls of Jericho some 3,500 years ago. These are walls nonetheless; walls built with stones of greed and mortar of extremism. These walls are not visible to the naked eye but they are as present as the original Jericho walls and they prevent us from securing the modern day Promised Land. The walls are impregnable to Justice; impregnable to fairness; impregnable to the poor; impregnable to minorities; impregnable to immigrants; impregnable to equity; impregnable to inclusiveness. Joshua fit the Battle of Jericho and the walls came tumbling down.

  Joshua had an army of 40,000 made powerless by the walls of Jericho. SOS does not have an army, however, people are made powerless by the modern day walls of greed and extremism. The challenge for us today is the same as for Joshua’ army thousands of years ago:  tear down these walls so the Promised Land can be secured.

  The principles are the same: faith is more powerful than walls; unity is more powerful than walls. Right is more powerful than walls. We have to have faith that moral action has power beyond our understanding. We have to unleash that power by acting on our faith. Can SOS and others fit the Battle of Jericho and the walls come tumbling down?

EPILOGUE – There are many kinds of power: position; money; status; threats; speech; writing; etc., however, we usually discount moral power until we have no other choice. Moral power is powerful all the time. It should not be our last resort.

  About the author: Hank Sanders represents Senate District 23 in the Alabama Legislature.

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