Stay awake to prevent more Trayvon Martinâ€™s, or racism
By Chinta Strausberg
Father Michael L. Pfleger warned Americans not to go back to sleep after the arrest of George Zimmerman who admitted to shooting Trayvon Martin, and to have faith and the vision to see beyond their present situation including standing up for what is right even if that means opposing officials like Mayor Rahm Emanuel who wants to charge $25 a seat to Taste of Chicago visitors and $40 for a meal.
â€œHow far can you seeâ€? asked Pfleger. He told of how an eye doctor always gives you a test to see how much you can see and how after the first line he just makes up the letters but with confidence.
Preaching on the topic ofÂ â€œHow Far Can You See,â€ Pfleger said, â€œNow, while the eye doctor is saying tell me what you can see, Jesus says blessed are those who believe but have not seen.â€ Belief and faith, Pfleger said, are so very important to God.
Pfleger referred to John 20:19-31 when Jesus, who had been killed on the cross but had risen three-days later, appeared before 11 of the 12 disciples. Thomas, the 12th disciple, was not present; however, a week later when all 12 of the disciples were once again gathered in a house where the door was locked, Jesus entered and showed Thomas he was indeed alive and that he was Christ.
â€œThere is something about faith.â€ â€œThe bible tells us it is impossible to please God without faithâ€¦. The bible tells us that heaven and earth will pass away but His word shall remain. There is something about faith and the unseenâ€¦. â€œ
Pfleger believes the reason some people do not see the greatness of God manifesting in their lives is because of â€œour lack of belief in the unseen, our Thomas spirit thatâ€™s in all of us.â€
â€œWe are not experiencing the supernatural. I donâ€™t know about you, but Iâ€™m greedyâ€¦. I donâ€™t just want to see the natural. I want to touch the divine. I want to walk in the supernatural. I want to do things that where I walk is blessed. I want to touch things and make things change. I want to walk in a room and change the atmosphereâ€¦.â€ â€œYou got to see stuff before you see it,â€ he said.
â€œFaith is what unlocks the supernatural for us. Itâ€™s the key. It reaches into the supernatural and draws it, pulls it, drags it into the natural. Your faith is what runs ahead of you and brings God up into the natural situation,â€ he explained.
Quoting from Proverbs 29:18 which says, â€œWhere there is no vision, the people perishâ€¦,â€ Pfleger said, â€œI believe why so many of our young people today are perishingâ€¦. We can blame the gangsâ€¦thatâ€™s all pieces of the puzzle, but I believe the reason why so many of our young people are falling and perishingâ€¦becoming captives of the traps of the enemy is because they lack vision.â€
Pfleger said when youth get caught up in â€œstreet stuff,â€ they have narrowed their vision. â€œYou see what is right in front of you, and you have a narrow and small visionâ€ and together he said that will keep them â€œlocked in the stuff right in front of you instead of all the things that are available to you. That is why we have so many young people being drawn into foolishness,â€ said Pfleger.
â€œThey are drawn into fighting over corners donâ€™t nobody own. They say, â€˜this is our turf,â€™ Pfleger said, â€œYou donâ€™t have no deed. You ainâ€™t paying rent. You ainâ€™t got a mortgage. What do you mean, this is your turf? Theyâ€™re fighting over stuff that is not even thereâ€™s. Itâ€™s small stuff.Â They get caught up because of a lack of vision. They are fighting over titles, positions, fighting over chump change.â€
Recently, Pfleger told a young man, â€œBrother, if youâ€™ve been selling drugs for two-years, shouldnâ€™t you have a different shirt than the one you wear every dayâ€?
Alarmed over the recent shooting of 10 people and two who were killed, Pfleger said, â€œWe are hung up on what happened 100-years ago but we donâ€™t care about what is happening on our streets.â€ He was referring to media reporters about the airing of the movie the Titanic that sank 100 years ago on April 15, 1912.
Saying while he is glad that George Zimmerman is in jail, Pfleger said donâ€™t forget about Trayvon Martin, the victim, and watching to see if justice is done. â€œDonâ€™t go back to sleep,â€ he said. Pfleger said there should be enough anger in all of us to say â€œthere will be no more Trayvon Martinâ€™sâ€ in America and no more racism or racial profiling in America or classism.
Alarmed at the number of guns in America, Pfleger said, â€œWe have more guns in America than we have people.â€ He praised New York City Mayor Bloomberg for supporting a repeal of the controversial â€œStand Your Groundâ€ bill he says is nothing more than â€œshoot firstâ€™ laws and a â€œlicense to kill.â€ â€œYou have to have vision,â€ he said.
And, on the topic of vision, Pfleger said he was filling up his year the other night and became overwhelmed over the price of gas. â€œYou can get overwhelmed by the unemployment in double digits in our community. You can get overwhelmed with schools that are failing. You can get overwhelmed when every day you wake up and you hear about more shootings the night beforeâ€¦.
â€œIf you have no vision, you will get overwhelmed and when you get overwhelmed, you become apathetic. You become passive. You become immune.Â You become depressed and you shut down. You donâ€™t have time to shut downâ€¦. You donâ€™t voteâ€¦. When you become hopeless, when you adjust and you begin to accept the conditions around you, that is just what the system wants.
â€œThey want you not to vote. They want you not to go to meetingsâ€¦. They want you not to call 911 when you see something suspicious. They want you to sit back and adjust to the darknessâ€¦. Political structures donâ€™t care if you donâ€™t complain. When you donâ€™t complain about guns, the NRA has 1,000 people a day calling legislators about guns and they get 10 calls from people saying donâ€™t pass conceal carry and 1,000 saying pass it. Who do you think theyâ€™re listening to?
â€œThe society, the system wants us to shut down because then they can do exactly what they want to do,â€ he said.
Pfleger said the mayorâ€™s office called him over the weekend and asked him â€œwhat do you think about the taxing of the water of non-profits and what do you think about Taste of Chicago selling $25.00 for the seatsâ€?
Pfleger was referring to Mayor Emanuelâ€™s proposal to charge Taste of Chicago visitors $25 per night for seats at the Petrillo Bandshell and $40 for a three-course meal cooked by top chefs.
Pastor Pfleger had an answer for the mayorâ€™s office: â€œYou want to know what I think? I want to ask everybody to boycott. Thatâ€™s what I think. Tell the mayor that because maybe when a band comes out and plays and ainâ€™t nobody sitting in the seats, theyâ€™ll think twice about charging. Thatâ€™s a free concert. Thatâ€™s a park district that we pay for, our taxes. Keep the Park District open. You shouldnâ€™t have to pay for a seat to hear a band play.
â€œAnd, as far as water, I told them, OK, he can charge me for water but, Iâ€™m going to charge him for the 300 kids in my school weâ€™re educating but getting no government money for, but the 300 kids in Chicago that weâ€™re taking out of the public school system and giving them an education. Oh, yea, we can play this game,â€ he bellowed.
â€œDonâ€™t get hopeless. Donâ€™t shut down. The bible says donâ€™t let them break your spirit. You can break my back, but you wonâ€™t break my spirit.
â€œWithout a vision, you will perish,â€ Pfleger told the congregation. â€œVision is having the kind of faith that expects and gives spiritual discernment that I see what I see but I see what I seeâ€¦.â€ Explaining, Pfleger said, â€œVision allows me to see what God wants to bring to past in the midst of what the enemy is doing. Vision is seeing possibility and potential in the middle of bareness and drought.â€
Referring to a Harris Bank ad on TV where a man looks at his business then picks up a picture frame and sees the expansion of his business, Pfleger told the church, â€œYou have to learn how to pull up a picture frame about your life every now and then to see where you are going and not get stuck where youâ€™re outâ€¦. Pick up a picture frame and see where God is taking you while the devil is trying to hold you back.â€
Vision, Pfleger, is seeing where you are going and not where you are presently. For example, Pfleger took a trip down memory lane and reminded his members how years ago he led the church down the street and prayed for transformation.
Â â€œThere was nothing but a drug motel on Racine. There was nothing but an old abandoned tire shop. Remember, there was nothing but a drug car wash on 79th Street, but we went out there and began to lay our hands on buildings and said we believeâ€ that a bowling alley would come, a senior housing building would be built a social service officeâ€¦. We believed that a black restaurant would come like BJâ€™s.
â€œRemember when I gave you a bag of seeds and I said once we got rid of all of the bad, weâ€™d go out and throw seeds saying, social service center, restaurant, senior buildingâ€¦. Some of you laughed at me. Some of you called me plum crazy. Some of you called me nuts and said I was out of my mind and you laughed at me. Well, who got the last laugh now,â€ said Pfleger. â€œYouâ€™re right. I was crazy because I saw things in the picture frame that I could not see in the reality.â€
He said when others see youth as a drug dealer, he sees them as a CEO. Pfleger said sometimes you must put your arms around these youth and challenge them to dream again. â€œLearn how to dust off the dreams of your sisters and brothers and let them see their potential.â€
He told of one teacher who had an unruly student, but Pfleger told the teacher to close her eyes and vision that student as graduating with honors. â€œVision is being able to see the violence ending while the shooting is going on. You got to see the violence ending. You got to see kids playing in the street. You got to see kids playing in the parkâ€¦graduating from schoolâ€¦. You have to see a community prospering while it is strugglingâ€¦.
â€œVision is seeing yourself in a job while your employer is laying you off. I ainâ€™t having a pity party. Iâ€™m getting ready for my next job. Iâ€™m glad you let me go because there is somebody waiting for me. Vision is seeing yourself getting up when others are knocking you downâ€¦.
â€œVision is seeing yourself healed when the doctor says youâ€™re sickâ€¦. Vision is seeing what God wants to bring to past in the midst of your messâ€¦. Vision is being in the fire and seeing God in the fire with youâ€¦.. Vision is Jesus on a cross looking at you with all your jacked up self and saying you have possibilities. You are worth dying forâ€¦. God has a vision for you. That is what kept him on the cross, his visionâ€¦.â€
â€œVision does not allow my circumstances to dictate to my life.Â If Iâ€™m in a situation, I can close my eyes and say, my vision didnâ€™t see me dying. My vision didnâ€™t see my failing. My vision didnâ€™t see me unworthy. My vision didnâ€™t see me being a failureâ€¦.â€
Pfleger told the church, â€œYou are not dealing with a Moses pastor. Iâ€™m not looking where someone is going, Iâ€™m a Joshua. Iâ€™m going there for myself. Are there any other Joshua people up in hereâ€¦? â€œ He told them what ever you are going through is â€œnothing but a test.â€ Pfleger then asks some members to come to the altar for a victory dance.
Chinta Strausberg is a Journalist of more than 33-years, a former political reporter and a current PCC Network talk show host. You can e-mail Strausberg at: Chintabernie@aol.com.