The true non-violent social reformer
A recent opinion page article concerned the private lives of ‘social reformers’ not equalling the movement they championed. Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi were cited, as was Harvey Milk, a gay supervisor in San Francisco. Their personal lives, it was stated, paled under the bright light of scrutiny.
And not only them, almost anyone else would wither under such intense light. President Kennedy was known as a philanderer; evangelist Jim Bakker had his moments; and Gary Cooper — he was a fine actor, but there was that thing about him being already married when he had a fling with actress Patricia Neal. She became pregnant and Cooper had her get an abortion, thinking a baby would ruin his career. The light of scrutiny reveals his greatest role, that little life he was responsible for beginning — and ending.
Another story in the same Tribune was about theaters converting 35mm film projection to a digital format. A theater in Paris, Ill. was mentioned — the home of actor Carl Switzer, known to us as Alfalfa of the “Little Rascals’”short films of the 1930s and ’40s. He did a nice job as Alfalfa, but not so much as Carl Switzer. He became a drinker, jobs were scarce, and the bright light of scrutiny reveals he was shot to death in 1959, in a squabble over $50.
The opinion article stated “like Martin Luther King Jr., Mahatma Gandhi, and every other non-violent revolutionary in history, Milk is celebrated because of the social movement he represented, not his personal life.” Not quite true.
There is one non-violent social reformer in history who is celebrated both for the social movement he represented, and for his personal life. That person is Jesus Christ. He was divine, yes, but he was also a man who had to face and overcome the same kinds of things we do in life. And every time he had to make a choice he made the right one, because he always pleased God in everything he did.
Everyone else will eventually fail you, but Jesus never will, so look deep into his life — the deeper the better—shine the bright light of scrutiny on him, you will not find yourself disappointed. You are drawn to his social movement, and when you look beyond it at him, you will see a man who measures up.
Jesus’ life is a celebration — of him, and for us.
Jeff Hatton, Greentown
The true non-violent social reformer
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