Wednesday, January 21, 2009

I Couldn't Do It

I knew which books I wanted to read well in advance. I had pre-read them several times. And I wasn't going to cry.

But, oh! How well planned resolutions dissolved as I read about Martin Luther King Jr. as a boy being rejected by his friends... because he was black.

They dissolved further as watercolor depictions of "white only" playgrounds illustrated the fact that parks, hotels and restaurants were off limits to those born with darker skin. How do we explain some things without crying?

There are probably many fantastic Martin Luther King Jr. books available, but I fell in love with this one, primarily because it was simple enough for all ages; it's watercolor art and the fact that they included facts about his early years, his singing in church and other personal items that were noteworthy.

The book ends with his grave stone that reads:

"Free at last, free at last
Thank God Almighty, I'm free at last"

Then there was the story of little Ruby Bridges, the true story of a six year old girl who is court ordered to attend an all white school in 1960. We see her parents teaching her and praying with her. Days, weeks and months pass and Ruby goes alone (with Federal Marshalls for her protection because local police refused to protect her) through angry and screaming crowds. Her teacher watches her to make sure she won't break down, but Ruby remains cheerful and obedient. One day the teacher sees Ruby stop and seem to speak to the crowd, but we find out she wasn't speaking to them at all. She was praying for them just as she did every day.

This was her before and after school prayer:

"Please God, try to forgive those people.
Because even if they say those bad things,
they don't know what they are doing.
So You could forgive them,
just like You did those folks a long time ago
when they said terrible things about You."

The book is short, but powerful. Although government school is not a hope for our children, I was blessed to see the depiction of this godly Christian family praying together and this young girl faithfully executing the task she was given by her parents. Her spirit in trial was precious and because she was a six year old girl at the time, I felt like she was a hero our girls would be able to relate to. This book also includes lovely watercolor art.

Developing empathy in our children can be a difficult task. In our information age it is easy to become desensitized to horrific things. I believe it is wise to introduce heavy topics carefully. I don't ever want certain periods in history to be simply data collected and checked off our mental list...

"Slavery... check; Abortion... check~ covered it; Holocaust... check."

These, of course, are weighty matters.

I read a study last year about the creation of heroes. It included people like Corrie TenBoom who, as we know, stood almost alone risking her life to help the Jews. The study was seeking to discover what made a hero. What could make someone stand alone? What created an empathetic heart that was willing to risk themselves for others?

They found that the common denominator was either a personal, hurtful experience in youth~ like that of Martin Luther King Jr. when he was deserted by his friends because he was black~ or something that deeply impressed and taught them empathy. Something that caused them to relate to a person who had been hurt.

I believe as parents only we know when the best and most fruitful time is to address these dark spots in history.

As we share~ and even cry through~ these topics we are forming the souls that will champion God's principles tomorrow.

As I brought the children to the computer to watch Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech, Lydia asked, "Is this going to make you cry too Mama?"

The speech did not make me cry, but as Martin Luther King Jr. expressed the hearts and minds of these 200,000 attendees; appealing to a higher ground where a man would be judged not by the color of his skin, but by the content of his character I began to ponder another more recent case. One that appealed to Martin Luther King Jr. and yet not the heart of his message.

In California, we just voted {again} to protect marriage from the homosexual activists. I explained to the older children that although some homosexual activists use the civil rights movement to pull the heart strings of the general public, this is simply a smokescreen for their sinful agenda.

Martin Luther King Jr. desired that all men be judged by the content of their character. And what is character, but moral excellence?

Many blessings to you as you lead little hearts home.



Here's another one worth crying through:
A powerful and brilliant book for the introduction of the topic of slavery.


  1. Oops! I need an editor. I just caught myself.

    I meant to say "a" common denominator in the formation of heroes was a difficult experience, not "the" common denominator.

    There were other factors working in these homes as well. The complete list:

    * being marginalized, left out or undervalued
    * being exposed to suffering at an early age
    * cooperating to promote the well-being of others
    * having a morally strong parent with whom they felt close
    * living in a home where hospitality was highly valued
    * belonging to a group that values compassion


  2. Thanks for sharing these Rebecca! I'm not always sure what books are good and do not avoid the truth for political correctness' sake. So, it is really great when you give us your reviews:-)

    I will look these books up!

    Lots of love,

  3. Awesome Review! I just ordered them through Amazon. :-)

    Love you,

  4. Rebecca,
    We loved that Ruby Bridges story, too. I've just put the Martin Luther King Jr. book on hold. Thanks for your recommendations!