To the editor:
“The hero is commonly the simplest and obscurest of men,” Thoreau wrote back in l862.
A century and a half later little has changed.
I watched “eyes wide open” as Christopher Davis, a retired U.S. Navy Seabee, approached the phalanx of paramilitary personnel on the streets of Portland, Oregon, to ask a simple question: Do they believe they are upholding their constitutional responsibilities?
Whether they heard that question or not, I do not know.
What I do know is that they swung at him so hard with their batons they broke his hand, taking full swings at him, as if they were enjoying an evening out at the local batting cage. They then proceeded to pepper spray him, as he finally turned away, unbowed by the vicious and violent encounter.
Future Congressman John Lewis never even had a chance to ask that question, although he undoubtedly knew the answer, before they bloodied his skull and rendered him unconscious on the Edmund Pettus Bridge on that “Bloody Sunday” in 1965.
John Lewis was one of those “obscure” men Thoreau was talking about “protesting for the power that establishes justice in the land, never that which establishes injustice,” which is clearly what we are all living with now.
The protesters today, the obscure courageous men and women, the young and old of every background and ethnicity, march not only in our cities and towns, but across the world in support of racial and economic justice.
John Lewis was a man of unshakeable faith, boundless love and an indomitable spirit. John Lewis wanted to break bread with his brothers and sisters, not skulls. John Lewis never lost faith and in this moment we shouldn’t either.
His legacy should inspire and fortify us to continue the struggle and engage in “Good Trouble.”
May he rest in peace.