|Reverend Charles Moore|
And as the nation has a dialog about whether to put away an archaic battle flag, which deserves a prominent place not flying over a state, but in a museum of intolerance, it's worth hearing what Reverend Charles Moore actually said as to why he committed this act.
We usually honor those who "sacrifice their lives" for the greater cause, if they're wearing a uniform, or taking a bullet on behalf of what we care for or believe in.
But in this case, Reverend Moore took a bullet on behalf of racism.
|Photo by Bill Renfro|
Rev. Charles Moore was profoundly disturbed his entire life by a racist event that happened in his home town in Texas that he was forced to "ignore."
"Moore explained that his death was not an impulsive act, but one to which he had given great thought. Renfro told The Post that Moore left behind a copy of a New Yorker article entitled “Aflame.” It was about the Tibetan Buddhist monks’ protest of China’s domination of Tibet. They, too, set themselves on fire....
(Rev. Moore wrote) “I will soon be eighty years old, and my heart is broken over this,” he wrote. “America (and Grand Saline prominently) have never really repented for the atrocities of slavery and its aftermath. What my hometown needs to do is open its heart and its doors to black people, as a sign of the rejection of past sins. … So, at this late date, I have decided to join them by giving my body to be burned, with love in my heart not only for them but also for the perpetrators of such horror.”
Wow. Self immolation for a teaching in love. It's hard to wrap our minds around, but worth noting (and hearing his entire letter). The heart wants what the heart wants or needs. We honor his life of self sacrifice by at the very least examining how this ultimate sacrifice came to pass (which was completely missed by any media I'm aware of).
Here's an indepth article about him "I have always felt that death for a cause was my destiny, but never so much as during the past several years — when it has admittedly been a preoccupation,” he wrote.
In his typewritten notes, he said that his efforts seemed futile, the progress of the world too slow. He underlined a passage in a New Yorker article about Tibetan monks who set themselves aflame to protest China’s rule.
Moore wrote that he attempted the act several times, but fear and the simple beauties of the world tempted him to stay.
“The turning leaves on the trees in my front yard are almost reason enough to keep living,” he wrote.
Did you catch that? Some things on the planet are worth sticking around for.
But I found the letter he left behind posted online. I must tell you, typing it up, knowing how this fellow died, and what was in his heart when he wrote this - it's pretty powerful.
These words are his legacy. Obviously he had a strong connection to the word "hometown" and his self identity - being shunned at the age of 20 for applauding what the Supreme Court had ruled. (Here's CNN in 2006 talking about Grand Saline's dark history) Reverend Moore spent 60 years living with that anger - and after traveling to India, observing poverty close up - he writes how he was ashamed of his hometown. Knowing that he had a vision of sacrificing his life for a cause (a very Flipside concept - how could you know that if it wasn't something you'd already agreed to?) he ended up self immolating for a cause - which he spells out eloquently in this letter.
If we don't open our doors and hearts to people, then what are we doing on the planet? All I can add is "Amen" and "Rest in Peace Reverend Moore." On behalf of Reverend Moore's selfless act, without judging it (since he reports he talked himself out of it many times) I give you his reasons in his own words:
O GRAND SALINE, REPENT OF YOUR RACISM
by Reverend Charles Moore
I was born in Grand Saline, Texas almost 80 years ago. As I grew up, I heard the usual racial slurs, but they didn’t mean much to me. I don’t remember even meeting an African-American person until I began driving a bus to Tyler Junior College and made friends with the mechanic who care for the vehicles: I teased him about his skin-color, and he became very angry with me; that is one way I learned about the paint of discrimination.
During my second year as a college student, I was serving a small church in the country near Tyler, when the United States Supreme Court declared racial discrimination in schools illegal in 1954; when I let it be known that I agreed with the Court’s ruling, I was cursed and rejected. When word about that got back to First Methodist Church in Grand Saline (which had joyfully recommended me for minister – the first ever from the congregation) I was condemned and called a Communist; during the 60 years since then, I have never once been invited to participate in any activity at First Methodist (except family funerals), let alone to speak from its pulpit.
When I was about 10-years-old, some friends and I were walking down the road toward the creek to catch some fish, when a man called “Uncle Billy” stopped us and called us into his house for a drink of water --- but his real purpose was to cheerily tell us about helping to kill “niggers” and put their heads up on a pole. A section of Grand Saline was (maybe still is) called “Pole town,” where the heads were displayed. It was years later before I knew what the name meant.
During World War II, when many soldiers came through town on the train, the citizens demanded that the shades in the passenger cars be pulled down if there were African-Americans aboard, so they wouldn’t have to look at them.
The Ku Klux Klan was once very active in Grand Saline, and still probably has sympathizers in this town. Although it is illegal to discriminate against any race relative to housing, employment, etc., African-Americans who work in Grand Saline liver elsewhere. It is sad to think that schools, churches, business, etc. have no racial diversity when it comes to blacks.
My sense is that most Grand Saline residents just don’t want black people among them, and so African-Americans don’t want to live there and face rejections. This is a shame that has bothered me wherever I went in the world, and did not want to be identified with the town written up in the newspaper in 1993, but I have never raised my voice or written a word to contest the situation. I have owned my old family home at 1212 N. Spring St. for the last 15 years, but have never discussed the issue with my tenants.
Since we are celebrating the 50th anniversary of Freedom Summer in 1964, when people started working in the South to attain the right to vote for African-Americans along with other concerns. This past weekend was the anniversary of the murder of three young men (Goodman, Schwerner and Cheney) in Philadelphia, Mississippi, which gave great impetus to the Civil Rights Movement --- since this historic time is being remembered, I find myself very concerned about the rise of racism across the country at the present time. Efforts are being made in many place to make voting more difficult for some people, especially African-Americans. Much of the opposition to President Obama is simply because he is black.
I will son (sic) be eighty years old, and my heart is broken over this. America (and Grand Saline prominently) have never really repented for the atrocities of slavery and its aftermath. What my hometown needs to do is open its heart and its doors to black people, as a sign of rejection of past sins.
So what's this all got to do with the Flipside?
Well, as people who've read "Flipside" or "It's a Wonderful Afterlife" are aware of, it appears to be possible to communicate clearly with people on the flipside. Michael Newton has done so in his books, various mediums have done so in their sessions, and people having a near death experience where they learn "new information" about their loved ones, appear to be able to do it.
And what they say is consistent:
We choose to be here on the planet.
We choose the lifetime that we want to explore and learn about.
We do things out of compassion for fellow humans, including incarnating here on behalf of a loved one's request.
That suicide has no ramifications in the afterlife in terms of "judgment" - that we only can judge ourselves and our own path. Only we can know if we "failed" in our journey, perhaps failed at overcoming anger, failed at overcoming bullying, failed at overcoming an addiction to drugs, or failed at overcoming our brain being wired differently. What we learn on the flipside is that NONE OF IT IS A FAILURE. It's just another experience that we've attempted to do, and have not quite accomplished. Like being in a class and failing a test. It's not the end of the world, or even the end of the class. It just means that you have to try harder next time. Any good teacher can tell you that. Any good student knows this. You just have to try harder.
I'm just repeating what is said in the research. As the good Reverend said above, "Many times" he almost killed himself, but stopped because of the "beauty of the planet."
And I would argue that is enough of a profound reason to stick around - the beauty of the planet which is real and accessible, is more profound, more of a reason to be here, than to not be here. That there's no amount of mental stress that can't be overcome, or changed through meditation (see other posts to read about Professory Richard Davidson's (U of W) work on curing depression through meditation), there's no amount of stress or disaster that can't eventually be understood.
Because we don't die. Let's start there. We are here, and then we're somewhere else. We can't come back here, at least immediately, but we do get the perspective of "Oh - that was the wrong thing to do" - not by way of judgment, but by way of observation.
In many of the cases I've examined in "Flipside" and "It's a Wonderful Afterlife" a person stands before their spirit guides and argues "I couldn't have done anything else. I was at my last straw." And out of compassion and love, their guides show them - "Actually there were many other avenues you could have taken - let's examine them..." and people report seeing "different outcomes" of their actions. Like if they had not killed themselves, they could have seen a different path to take.
Which reminds me of a story I repeat in "It's a Wonderful Afterlife." I call it "the Wednesday option."
I was talking in Virginia Beach about how people who do commit suicide are not punished for their actions, but they do find all of their loved ones back there saying "What the heck were you thinking? We had so many plans worked out in advance, and you've screwed them all up!!! We love you man, but if you had only waited until Wednesday, you would have seen that tickets to Italy were coming your way and we were all going to meet up there!"
After my talk, a woman came up from the audience and said "i'm a wednesday person." She explained that she was so depressed that she went online and learned the easiest, less painful way to do herself in and went down to the hardware store to buy the chemicals required. And while standing in line she met these two kids from Uganda who were part of the wars over there, they'd lost their families and were here in the US trying to adjust. And she in that moment realized that this was something she could help with, and now lives in Uganda and takes care of children in an orphanage. She had literally "waited until Wednesday."
So when we think of Reverend Pinckney this week, and all the things we lost with his eloquent voice - gunned down - know that he is elsewhere enjoying the fruits of his love. And think for a moment about Reverend Moore who died burning alive in a parking lot in Texas because of his anger about racism. One who was sacrificed, and one who sacrificed himself - both people who believed that love was paramount, that love is the key to our existence on the planet.
RIP Rev. Charles Moore. RIP Rev. Pinckney. May your paths on the flipside bring you closer to your goal of universal love.
My two cents.