These words are often recalled during this time of the year as the persistent inquiries of impatient children. However, as I watched the coverage of the incidents in Charlottesville, Virginia, these words more aptly describe the frustrations of those who have personally witnessed and experienced the troubling times that beset the United States 50 years ago. These words also express the horror of those who were not alive 50 years ago. If we were to observe the footage from Charlottesville in black and white, the images from 2017 eerily parallel those from the 1950s and 1960s.
The question, “are we there yet?” reflects both a lament and a hope. For some, it decries the ideology of those who embrace the words and actions of white supremacists who seek to ‘take the country back’ to a time in which unbridled violence was the tactic frequently used to terrorize American citizens who simply desired the constitutional promises of our democracy. For others, the question “are we there yet?” provides the strength for the continued pursuit of the goal of justice and peace.
On Sunday morning, millions of people across our nation will gather in places of worship and attempt to understand the hate-filled words and actions that we have seen and experienced. They will listen intently for words that will remind them of the promise of the triumph of good over evil. Most importantly, children will listen for words of assurance that our journey leads to a better place. These words will be heard not only in the sermons that are preached, but also in the songs that will be sung and the prayers that will be spoken.
The question, “are we there yet?” must be transformed from a general inquiry into a personal reflection. While there is already much conversation about what others have or have not said, a more important question is perhaps best captured in the title of the last book that Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King wrote over 50 years ago “Where Do We Go from Here? Chaos or Community.” Clearly, we are not there yet. Your words and actions will help determine the direction of our journey. How will you help minimize chaos and move toward community?
As Christians, we follow the journey of Jesus that leads to peace. We engage in the acts that reflect both justice and mercy. We proclaim a message that demonstrates grace and we share a love that builds. Perhaps we are not there yet, but a more poignant question is “are you there yet?”
Our condolences are extended to the family of the pedestrian who was killed and the many others who were injured in Charlottesville. We are also praying for the families of the troopers who were killed in the helicopter accident.