I’m looking for the place that I was born,
I’m looking for a way to fix what’s torn,
I’m looking for America.
So goes the lyric from Switchfoot’s Looking For America, a song — which features the black rapper Lecrae — from the band’s latest album “Where the Light Shines Through.”
Those of us who were not “born in the USA” are also looking for America. What happened to the hope and security this nation brought to the world? Where is the banner of freedom and equality she held high and proudly?
Policy considerations aside, imagine our exhilaration from across the world when in 2008 we saw both blacks and whites elect the first African-American president — only America could do it!
Yet such unity did not come at a low cost. When it comes to racial equality, America had to go to war against herself to overcome her painful history of slavery.
Abraham Lincoln — like William Wilberforce across the Atlantic — had to confront his own race to establish the law that abolished black slavery.
The lesson the Civil War taught us remains true today: unless the conscience of the oppressor is awakened, true equality and human dignity are impossible. The fight for equality has to be fought by both the oppressor and the oppressed.
The oppressed too have to rise up non-violently and fight for their rights. Martin Luther King, Jr., who fought with his words and peaceful protests in the 1950s and 60s, therefore stands high and tall as the great American example for this kind of advocacy.
As tragedy has followed tragedy recently, remembering Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King, Jr. might bring perspective to the way Americans ought to address the hatred and fear dividing them.
I hope the pain America has endured lately brings people from both sides of the racial divide together. However, there is no shortcut to the process of racial reconciliation.
America, and especially her leaders, must be vigilant, tirelessly seeking peace and not stoking the fires of hatred by engaging in a blame game.
Read more at Americans: On Racial Justice, the World Is Looking to You.