"Injustice Anywhere Threatens Justice Everywhere"

Ray Waugh, Sr.


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Journey in Writing
Ray Waugh, Sr.

After obtaining the invitation to speak to you, my first thought was that I would doubtless tell you a joke or two. Most of the black brothers and sisters whom I have known across the years were usually happy and ready with a smile, even though their hearts may have been breaking. The more I thought about it, however, the more I realized that this is a time to be serious.

Some years ago, when I was in the Service overseas, we had a black Chaplain Handy. He perhaps was one of the finest men whom I ever have known. Though some Chaplains in the midst of crises often tried to cheer-up the lads who were going out to die with jokes, Chaplain Handy never did this. Always, he would advise the boys that they might not come back, and that they needed to make peace with God. Also, in those distant days our Lord caused me to remember that many of my black brethren were in jails because they wanted their children to have equal rights with others.

Though there have been some improvements, we still are facing very serious days, weeks, and months. Though men may be turning some of their problems over to electronic brains of various sort, human opportunity is still as great as it has ever been. Men and women have circled the earth, some men have gone to the moon, and probes even now are reaching some of the most distant parts of our galaxy. The battle for freedom, however, never seems to end here upon the earth. Thankfully, men, women, and young people of our generation still have an opportunity to lay anew the foundation for personal victories that will make our tomorrow’s more wonderful.

Years ago, a man by the name of Patrick Henry stood and cried:

"Is life so dear, or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? -- Forbid it, almighty God! -- I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!"

Today, Patrick Henry is dead -- his voice is stilled forever as far as our mortal experiences are concerned. He cannot come to your defense, and he cannot come to my defense. Our God, nevertheless, is just as much concerned with and interested in freedom and justice today as He was in the days of Patrick Henry. Therefore, if there is to be freedom in our day, there must be new voices. I praise our God that He has raised up some such voices. I am doubly thankful that some of those voices have been Christian.

Though many may have forgotten, just a few years ago one of America’s citizens, and one of America’s strongest voices was forced to speak to our generation from The Birmingham Jail. And it was from his prison cell that Martin Luther King sent forth one of the greatest and grandest documents ever to come from the pen of a mortal. This document is simply entitled, "A Letter from Jail"! Its message, however, bore the cries of an untold multitude who have been trampled under foot across the centuries and the millenniums of human history. Out of this letter, I provide just a few graphic and vibrantly true statements:

"While confined here in the Birmingham Jail, I came across your recent statement calling our present activities ‘unwise and untimely’ . . . I am here, along with several members of my staff, because we were invited here. I am here because I have basic organizational ties here.

"Beyond this, I am in Birmingham because injustice is here. Just as eighth century prophets left their little villages and carried their ‘thus saith the lord" far beyond the boundaries of their home towns; and just as the Apostle Paul left his little village of Tarsus and carried the gospel of Jesus Christ to practically every hamlet and city of the Greco-Roman world, I, too, am compelled to carry the gospel of freedom beyond my particular home town. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly."

I would agree wholeheartedly with what Martin Luther King said so many years ago, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." Across the years, I have marveled that preachers and professors, politicians and public servants have not emblazoned this declaration of Martin Luther King across our nation and around our world. My brothers and sisters of a lighter hue may criticize and even move to persecute me for what I say here tonight. But it matters not at all to me! For my Lord and for my Country, I have faced death and persecution both in this land of the free and in the lands beyond the sea. If necessary or needful, I am now ready to suffer death even at this moment for what I deem to be the truth and what I deem to be right.

Therefore, I say to you tonight -- and with Martin Luther King -- that any injustice to my black brothers and sisters or any other brothers and sisters anywhere in our Land is a threat to justice and freedom in every part of our State of Texas. Any injustice toward my black brothers and sister or any other brothers and sisters of any other grouping anywhere in our Land is a threat to freedom everywhere in America and everywhere in our world.

I would say further for a lost and dying world to hear: injustice and prejudice are not something new in the councils of men. In fact, history and the Word of God clearly declare that injustice and prejudice have been around a long, long time.

Jesus came into a world that was filled with prejudice and injustice. While our blessed Lord was yet a child, wicked King Herod had all of the babies under two years of age slain. In some later days while Jesus was yet upon the earth, the Jews in Judea were prejudiced against the Jews in Samaria. God graphically shows us that the prejudices of the Judeans were so ingrained that neither the religious priests nor the religious people would bind up the wounds of an injured traveler.

Prejudice was a violent, godless thing even in that distant day. Samaritans were prejudiced against the Judeans. Judeans were prejudiced against the Samaritans, as we have noted. And the Romans were prejudiced against the Jews, even as the Jews were prejudiced against the Romans. Hatred, injustice, and godless enslavement were rampant even in those distant days when our blessed Lord walked upon the earth.

Perhaps one of the most tragic evidences of prejudice and hatred, as well as injustice, ever to take place in the courts of men took place just outside a "Paradise" that our Bibles tell us was "The Garden of Eden." The man Cain was so prejudiced against his own brother Abel’s religion that he rose up against him and slew him.

Such violence separated Cain from his brother. For a moment, it may seem to have freed Cain from "Abel’s religion." It may even have provided Cain some release for his anger. I would have you to know, however, that Cain’s prejudice, injustice, and hatred did not bring him any peace, any joy, or any happiness. Cain followed through and accomplished his own human purposes in that distant day, but sorrow, grief, loneliness and unhappiness plagued his every step thereafter. The injustice that Cain perpetrated upon his God-loving brother who believed in "blood sacrifice" brought him to that agonizing moment when he had to cry, "My punishment is greater than I can bear."

Even in our day -- so many, many thousands of years later -- some may suppose that God is no longer in control of things. Some may suppose that God is no longer concerned for the downtrodden masses of earth. Some may object to the bloody sacrifice that took place on Calvary’s Cross, and that God requires the Blood of His Son as our only "Atonement for sin." I would remind the peoples of earth, nevertheless, that Jesus Himself declared very clearly:

"Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God. But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; ye are of more value than many sparrows."

Though we may not be seeing prejudice being exacted by "blasting streams of water," shotguns, and billy-clubs in this late hour of the 20th century as it was 30 years ago, there still is much violence abroad in our land. Some of that violence is the product of prejudice! As a result, such prejudice must appear as injustice. Men may not now be unjustifiably opening the doors of their jails and rudely throwing their fellowmen whose skin is of a little different shade behind imprisoning walls. Nevertheless, there are injustices being perpetrated each and every day throughout our Land and in many places in our world.

All of us need to remember, however, that God is yet in charge, and He is still keeping His records of every injustice, whoever the perpetrator may be. God still says to each and everyone of us, "Ye are of more value than many sparrows." Therefore, we can know that one day all of those who are perpetrating injustices toward any of us because of the color of our skins, or because of our religions, or because of our national origins will one day have to cry with Cain of old, "My punishment is greater than I can bear."

Here is something else to think about:

In the days when Jesus was upon the earth, the Romans and the Jews accomplished their godless injustices and circumvented the freedoms of their fellowmen, but they did not find any peace of mind. In their lives, they knew no happiness -- only an endless fear. Even in the days of Patrick Henry many years later, some found and experienced freedom, but they did not find personal peace or individual happiness. Being the purveyors of injustice, we can know that these likewise never ever really experienced justice!

In our day, multitudes are seeking freedom and justice, and these are worthy goals for us all. In fact, some of the most needful things in Texas, in America, and in our world are young men of every color, young men of every religion, and young men of every ethnic origin with the courage of Patrick Henry. As it was in the beginning days of our great land of America, so it should be in this "Land of the free and the home of the brave" more than two hundred years later. We need young men of every color, every religion, and every ethnic origin who will have the courage to cry, "Give me liberty, or give me death." Conviction and commitment are the crying needs of this hour.

But greater by far is another need for us all! All of us, of course, need to experience freedom and justice. It is far more important for all of us, however, that we should experience personal peace and individual happiness. We need to realize that if we are going to able to be just toward others, we must have experienced our own personal peace of mind and our own personal happiness. These, I believe, can be our experience only when we have come to an individual relationship with God. It needs to be noted by all that men who may gain a measure of justice but who have no personal peace within their own hearts and who have no relationship with God have suffered eternal loss.

One of the most remarkable things about the life of Martin Luther King -- yea, a phenomenon seldom viewed in the councils of men -- was his evident calm and peace of mind regardless of what his circumstances were at any given moment. As all of us, he was human, and he had his human flaws and failings! Nevertheless, the ministry and the testimony of Martin Luther King indicated that he was at peace with God. In fact, time and time again, he indicated that his faith in Jesus Christ was such that he was ready to die for the cause that he espoused, even freedom and deliverance for his own people. His cry was somewhat as that of Moses when he, in that very distant day, stood before Pharaoh pleading his people’s cause.

Though Martin Luther King experienced a very troubled life from that hour when he was thrown in the Birmingham Jail without trial, always he manifested a demeanor of personal calm and peace of mind. Needless to say, Martin Luther King suffered appalling injustices, persecutions, and condemnations at the hands of both his white and his black brothers and sisters in this Land of The Free. Yet through it all, his whole demeanor was one of calm, repose, and peace.

Perhaps it was no marvel, then, that Martin Luther King who preached Jesus Christ and Him crucified, buried, and resurrected, also, was able to live and to die as a Christian. He lived as a proclaimer of "Non-Violence" as few men who ever have lived here upon the earth. Climactically, he was able to die "with his boots on," as it were, while in the midst of standing forth for the cause that he espoused. Thankfully, many years ago, in an evening meeting at The Golden Gate Baptist Church in San Antonio, Texas, our Lord enabled me to cry, "And I have no doubt but that Martin Luther King will go down in history as a man equal to or greater in stature than Patrick Henry"! Now, thankfully, at 78, I can go on to my reward confident that our Lord provided me with such insight.

Though Martin Luther King was very human as most of us seem to be, and though he also experienced many of the frailties that many of us have known and now know, I yet marvel at his life as a crusader for his people. When I study his life and his ministry, I am reminded first of his parents’ vision when they named him, "Martin Luther." Secondly, I am reminded of the words with which Henry Drummond described our blessed Lord:

"Christ’s life outwardly was one of the most troubled lives that ever lived; tempest and tumult, tumult and tempest, and waves breaking over it all the time till the warm body was laid in the grave. But the inner life was a sea of glass. The great calm was always there. At any moment you might have gone to him and found rest" (p. 177 of "The Greatest Thing In The world.")

So, it was, in the life of Martin Luther King. A great calm always seemed to be there, even when he was in jail in Birmingham. So, today, my friends -- regardless of the color of your skin, regardless of your religion, and regardless of your ethnic origin -- I point you to that Jesus whom Martin Luther King often referenced and whom he sometimes preached. I point you to the Savior in whom Martin Luther King had placed his trust. I point you to the Son of God who apparently provided Martin Luther King peace in the midst of persecutions, love in the midst of human license, and calmness in the midst of racial, social, and economic crises.

If we are to have personal victory here and eternal victory hereafter, we must have a living faith in the Blessed Son of God who bore "our sins in His own body on the tree," and who arose victorious over sin, death, and the grave. I am with you and with Martin Luther King that freedom and justice must be equally available to all colors, all creeds, and all countries. I am wholly with you that each one of us is fully due our God-given and Constitutional and Inalienable Rights.

We never want to forget, however, that the heart of Martin Luther King would have been broken, and my heart, too, will be broken, if you gain all of your human rights and then go on to Hell. I would have you to join the patriots and the courageous souls of all ages who have cried in one way or another, "Give me liberty or give me death." I would have you to do it, however, as one who has "that peace which passes all understanding," that peace of mind that can come only to those who have placed their faith in The Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior.

Realize with us that freedom and justice must be made available to all men, but be aware that it is far more important to have an eternal, a saving, and a victorious faith in Jesus Christ who died and who arose. Our Lord once cried, "What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul?" So it is today! Of what value can freedom and justice be if one dies without faith in Jesus Christ and then must suffer eternity in the prison-house of Hell? Of what value can freedom and justice be, if one dies lost in his own sins and suffers God’s eternal justice as an unsaved sinner in the fires and the torments of Hell?

Yes, dearly beloved friends, I am truly concerned about freedom! I am concerned about justice! I am concerned about Constitutional and Inalienable Rights. I am eternally more concerned, however, that a man, a woman, or a young person know the truth of the Gospel and be eternally free in Christ Jesus. I want your children to have every right and every privilege and freedom that mine are afforded, and I would willingly lay down my life to accomplish that if it were necessary! I am eternally more concerned, however, that your children and my children should know the Son of the Living God as their own personal Savior, and that by faith!

Therefore, I conclude these remarks that I have taken from the words of Martin Luther King, "Injustice Anywhere Threatens Justice Everywhere," with some words of Jesus, the crucified, buried, and resurrected Son of God:

"He [she] who believes on the Son has everlasting life . . . I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man cometh to the Father except by me . . . Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you; not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid" (John 3:36, 14:6,27).

Last updated Thursday, February 24, 2000


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