The decision by South Carolina officials to remove the Confederate flag from the Capitol grounds is right, but it should have been done 150 years ago. The flag is the symbol of a lost cause, and it has been hijacked through the years by advocates of hate. Whatever “nobility” was once attached to the flag is lost in the modern, misguided culture of hatred and racial division that continues to plague America. Take it down wherever it is shown and begin anew to search for a symbol that brings people together.
The American Civil War was fought over the issue of states’ rights and slavery. It was a four-year war of blood and violence that pitted brother against brother, both literally and symbolically. Its shadow continues to linger in the conscience of the nation. Every year new books are published retelling the story of those battles. The battlegrounds of that era see steady streams of visitors every year. There is value in remembering what the conflict was about so that it will never ever be repeated. In April 1865 when General Lee surrendered his troops to General Grant, it was over. It was determined that America would indeed remain one undivided nation as Lincoln so eloquently put it: "...that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."
America since that time has fought many battles around the world to both preserve its freedom and to bring freedom to oppressed people. It has not always succeeded in that noble goal, but it has repeatedly tried. That is why I cringe when I see photos of the misguided man who is charged with the killing of nine members of a Charleston church wrapped in a Confederate flag. He fell for the hate. He was caught in a net of evil and acted out his perverse and misguided worldview on the innocent church members gathered for prayer last week.
The surviving family members have poignantly expressed forgiveness to the man and thereby set an example for the nation. For the remainder of their lives they will face many moments when that forgiveness will be threatened with their own bitter sorrow. May God give them grace and strength to hold to their merciful resolve.
I am a child of the South. My maternal great-grandfathers both fought under the Confederate flag. I have a picture of those two grizzled veterans sitting under a statue of a Confederate soldier on the courthouse lawn in their Georgia hometown. As a child my mother would take me to Shiloh battlefield in Tennessee and weep for the brave men who died for their belief. I know what the time was about.
I work today for the greater goal of freedom to be brought to all by the return of Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God. The charter of that coming Kingdom tells me to put away hatred and bias toward any person because of the color of their skin. Before God we are all one blood; one creation with the potential to become like our Father in heaven. I have no need for any physical symbols of this life that represent lost human causes. I have no need for symbols that detract from the teachings of the Bible.
Wrap yourself in the Word of God. Hoist high by the example of a changed heart and humble mind those spiritual symbols of God’s heavenly rule in your life.
As South Carolina takes down the symbol of the Confederate flag, I hope it disappears from American public life, to be found only in museums as a relic of a lost cause.