Pilgrims of Justice & Liberty

The Statue of Liberty (being created in Paris, 1880)

unbounded confidence I have in your attachment to me, an the dear pledges of our affection.”

                                               Abigail Adams to John Adams

In our humanity, extraordinary times have called upon the hearts and minds of ordinary people to shine out of necessity for others. Is it the providence of God for human kind; his love and mercy to raise up champions as lights shining in the darkness; delivering a multitude from bondage into safety? These champions distinguished themselves in action that sets them apart. They have not been mere place holders holding a position or a standard. All of these faced opposition of some sort in striking ways; their works ultimately toppling what was before, bringing in a new standard during a time of distress; shaping once again a new beginning, demolishing strongholds, both figurative and literal. Think of Moses, David, Nehemiah, the Lord Jesus Christ… Paul, Frederick Douglass, John and Abigail Adams, Thurgood Marshall, and Martin Luther King. They were readers and writers, speakers, shapers of ideas, mentally agile, and in their most precise moments, agents of the ideas culled from the central idea of liberty as a Godly inheritance.

Champions stand alone, enduring in their cause, prominent in the continuity of the purpose of their thought and action; being purified in the fires of long suffering until all that is found is strength, courage, grit, love, joy, peace, gentleness, and meekness before God, they remain on account of the righteousness found in their good work.

There are two types of champions, one is more ‘earthy,’ purposed on winning momentary battles; whereas the other style of champ places his or her affections on higher ideals, such as justice and liberty, and of service unto God. These last are driven by something stronger than their own regard. They go farther in, attain a greater movement of heart and mind, and go through tribulations no mortal man volunteers to undertake. These style of champions are not necessarily running in a zig zag sprint, dodging military land mines as they carry a wounded soldier on their shoulders with bullets flying past and grenades exploding all around. That is heroic and in holy scripture, Jesus sais that no greater love is there than the one of laying down one’s life for another. In America, as it is in other nations wherein justice and liberty are regarded as high ideals, joining the military is a form of service unto the idea of preserving justice and liberty. But their are other hero’s and heroine’s who are not jumping out of airplanes into enemy zones. They are known to be critical thinkers, orators, writers, and public speakers, and of these there are many, but fewer who place their allegiance unto the Creator of justice and liberty. In fact, God is this Creator and one of His names is Just, with the book he super-authored being the 'book of the perfect law of liberty.'

Compassion and a yearning righteousness for justice moved the heart of Thurgood Marshall to take on the defense of the liberty of a people long oppressed. They were not clamoring at his door or knew his name. His arrival was not proclaimed, nor was he immediately known by those he immediately ‘fought’ for through no less than twenty nine outstanding victories in the U.S. Supreme Court. Thurgood Marshall led the shift of constitutional perspective on how the idea of liberty is a thought that unites us all as equal citizens with equal rights under the law. Because of his work, Americans of black skin color began to live in a new world of inclusion, howbeit, tumultuous in the initial years of the law’s protection of these civil liberties.

The United States of America’s revolution of justice and liberty began about 250 years ago. Its proclamation that justice and liberty are essential to the quality of the life of its people has emboldened generations of individuals to give continuity and understanding to the ‘American Spirit.’  Our liberty is not, and should not be an open freedom devoid of morality, it is however, a liberty that ascertains the ongoing equal and just defense of the individual rights of each person. The Christian pilgrims that arrived long ago on the shores of Plymouth seeked a better quality of life, wherein they could worship God in their manner. They traveled the great ocean in pursuit of a life of religious liberty. The ensuing revolution that began a century and a half later was said to have ended with a signature treaty ending war between England and the new JerUSAlem, the United States of America. Yet, the enslavement of our black-skinned brothers and sisters remained as a silent and sometimes wailing siren call that the American revolution was not only an array of battles fought between two warring countries, but a revolution of the ideas we agree to in respect on how we define our shared humanity. 

Frederick Douglass reversed
engineered that reading and
writing created liberty
when told that he was not
 to be educated,
less he be unfit to be a slave.

Of American champions, there is none like the ‘Lion of Anacostia.’ Never has such soul fire for doing good, being good, and proclaiming the importance of goodness, for a genuine love of others, for justice unfeigned; anchored into that unmatched moral compass known as God arisen in any one human since the time of the Lord Jesus and his disciples, as it did in Frederick Douglass. Some have called him a prophet of freedom, but Frederick was a prophet of justice with the fruit of it being freedom, and a sounding roar heard of by hundreds of thousands, and then millions of Americans through his unstoppable public speaking tours— that an honest and quality education is of supreme importance for the defense of our liberties. His life’s signature was a fifty year ‘five alarm fire’ for justice and liberty that rekindled what was believed to have been an extinguished American revolution at the closure of military war between America and England. No… the revolution for justice and liberty was in the heart and mind of one man, more so than in any one entity. Ask him if the American revolution had ended before his birth and he will tell you that it was alive and well in his bosom. Ask Frederick if the fierceness of his stare implied hardness of heart, and he will show you the fierceness of his love for justice to prevail in the life of his black-skinned brothers and sisters. Ask him to speak to you, and he will tell you that after all, his heart was color blind, and that he was simply being an American, and a son of God.

We are the champions. We are the champions. We are the champions.

It is the performance of the educated mind, the critically thinking student, and the trained heart, knowledgeable in the founding constitutional ideas; invisible pillars that cannot be seen with the eye, universal ideas recognizable only to those who dare to be truly educated beyond the preliminaries of a basic profession that liberty is best defended. The ideas of justice and liberty are so magnanimous and elicit such passionate defenses once understood that to those who understand, these same become staunch and strident defenders realizing that the ideas are forever under attack. Attack from ignorance, through compromise and appeasement, in the slumber of avarice and greed, and with the the diversion of entertainment; attack from lackluster educations, and from the complacent passage of time.

John & Abigail Adams, were champion sentinels of liberty, sons and daughters of God; pilgrims of justice, parents, and fellow American citizens; thought leaders in the formation of the new American government in favor of the cause for equal rights based on the biblical perspective of justice and liberty. They were highly educated and also very ordinary and down to earth. She was the first known American woman of refined intellect to charge at the practice of slavery, but she could also be found plowing her farm, melting the kitchen silverware into bullets, and conferring with George Washington. Neither she nor John ever owned slaves, and in her 4 year absence during her husbands diplomatic tours in Europe, gave the family home to a former slave woman, husband and child. Abigail cared for the people of her community, giving them food and shelter in time of war, nursing them in their sickness, and being a champion for the rights of women, albeit, if not immediately successful in her letters, her own life was an example of the female intellect, as much as its physical capacity; brawn and brains, grit and refined spirit. Her mind and diplomatic outspokenness won her the respect of the American and European leadership. No women in the history of humanity is known to so continuously have petitioned or have had such access to the seat of government as Abigail Adams had. Her contributions to justice and liberty profoundly resonates in her petitions to her husband, and in the signature of her life, before all who were graced to have met her.

Letter from Abigail Adams to John Adams june 30. [1778]

 “…you need not be told how much female Education is neglected, nor how fashonable it has been to ridicule Female learning,…add but to these natural perfections the advantages of acquired learning what polite and charming creatures would they proves whilst their external Beauty does the office of a Crystal to the Lamp not shrouding but discloseing their Brighter intellects..”
These champions are versatile and dymanic. They excel in a number of duties and professions. John Adams was everywhere. He moved! He traveled! He was a farmer, a teacher, a lawyer, a senatorial delegate to the Continental Congress, a diplomat at a time when crossing the ocean could mean certain death, and finally a President known as much for his executive decisions in moving the country forward while maintaining independence from political pressure to join the sentiment of the political crowd. 

It was on his long and hard travels to and fro from his hometown to Pennsylvania, in the ships destined for Europe at the mercy of storms and being captured and imprisoned by the English navy, in the absence from his wife and children for months and years at a time that John Adams became something more than ordinary. It was in doing the right thing even if it was unpopular, as in his triumphant defense of the English soldiers in the ‘Boston Massacre’ of 5 colonists in 1770. He exemplified his biblical adherence to justice and liberty. These last being ideas begotten from the book known as the “perfect law of liberty,” the Holy Bible.” 

Above all, Adams understood that this revolutionary time in the human story was an unfolding story that would set the founding ideas for America; he had clarity that his actions and non-actions would directly help steer the trajectory of America’s nascent sense of self, and this helped fuel and channel his patience and devotion unto a biblical perspective that placed justice foremost as the overarching precept that would create the space for liberty. Doing the right thing, be it popular or unpopular: that was John Adams, that was Frederick Douglass, and that was Thurgood Marshall. John was righteousness and gravity, vision and grit, action and thought, selfless, altruistic, and without argue, the unacknowledged leader who moved, admonished, binded, and straightened what the American Spirit meant. He stood as that sentinel in those first congressional assemblies.

He loved and reverenced his wife; loved to read and write, and he understood the fickleness of the heart of man; looked around that Continental Congress of 1774-75, and realized that he had to be the man he wanted to see there. His devotion to his wife shown in their famous letters; and these are a national treasure. His penchant in valuing a solid education as the means of the just defense of liberty were paramount ideas for him and Abigail.  His ethic, and Abigail’s crucial support in the importance and responsibility of his work,— be it in Independence Hall in Pennsylvania, in the court at Versailles of French King Louis the XV, or braving the harrowing Atlantic Ocean passage in perils of storm and capture were necessary actions required. There was no one else like these two, and they knew it! She was his ‘dearest friend,’ his ‘Portia,’ the most educated woman in the American colonies, and was highly regarded as a formidable intellect and source of fair insight; the strength of their love and friendship was the awe of many the world over. John Adams was devoted to her, prizing the bond of his love and friendship with her, this in turn supported the forward-plowing imprint of his soul into his work far beyond what was deemed necessary for ordinary man. They understood that nobody else was as passionate about the importance of justice and liberty as they… so they prioritized their mental and physical energy to value the establishment of these ideals slightly above the well-being of all their children. 

John and Abigail Adams performed on real stages with real consequences, equally yoked in intellect and a duty bound sense of instilling fundamental, universal ideas of equality into the fabric of a new American community; proving their steadfast loyalty and integrity to the founding ideas of America; charting a course anchored to the precepts of God’s will. Their actions as the standards of  justice and liberty would withstand the test of time, or be altogether obliterated as of no consequence.

Thurgood Marshall claimed victory for all Americans 29 out of the 32 times he appeared before the U.S. Supreme Court; bringing his refined and critical thinking mind to charge at the gates of a building called America, only to announce before it that the American Spirit cannot be housed in court houses, and governmental buildings, but in the very hearts and minds of its citizenry. Of these champions mentioned, it was a clean, righteous, and selfless spirit that moved them from ordinary to extraordinary. It was and has always been that the highest ideals of human kind: love for others, justice and liberty for all, and finally, the rendering of the effectual work of these, freedom, that is the spirit that has moved some of us far beyond the normal and into the magnanimous, from complacency with how things are, onto a mode of action to shape the world as how it was meant to be.