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Lighting a Candle – or Cursing the Darkness?

Did your Facebook thread blow up after the Charlottesville debacle last Saturday?

Mine did. Among the posts and comments, someone linked a story that fascinated me. It was about a black man named Daryl Davis, a touring blues musician. But Daryl doesn’t just play R & B; he befriends members of the Ku Klux Klan.

Yes, you read that right: an African-American making friends with the Klan. He has attended Klan rallies, visited Klansmen in their homes, and even drove the daughters of a jailed Klan member to prison so they could visit their father. Davis’ efforts seem to be paying off: he has collected 200 robes and hoods of KKK members who have left the white supremacist organization, including those belonging to Roger Kelly, a former Imperial Wizard.

In an era where activists and politicians glibly suggest a “conversation on race,” Davis is doing it. He once said that while he gave KKK members a platform to speak, he would also challenge them. “You don’t challenge them rudely or violently,” he noted in a podcast. “You do it politely and intelligently. And when you do things that way, chances are they will reciprocate and give you a platform.”

Davis hasn’t converted everybody in the Klan, of course. And some black leaders have vehemently criticized his work. He recalled, “I had one guy from an NAACP branch chew me up one side and down the other saying, ‘You know, we’ve worked hard to get ten steps forward. Here you are sitting down with the enemy having dinner. You’re putting us twenty steps back.'” 

Sitting down with “the enemy” sounds remarkably like something Jesus would do. He ate dinner with sinners, refused to call fire down on villages that opposed Him, and chatted openly with a Samaritan woman (Jewish males did not fraternize with Samaritans or women in public). As He hung on a cross, he asked God to forgive the soldiers who were crucifying Him, for “they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).

I don’t know if Davis is a Christian, but he acts like one. He is not posting “Social Justice Warrior” memes on Facebook and calling it a day. He is actually lighting a candle instead of cursing the darkness.

Mr. Davis, my hat is off to you. You are a brave man. A kind man. You have given me much to ponder in your concrete example of love-in-action. I realize that one person can’t dismantle systemic racism, but you’re doing something.

Davis has made me look deep into my heart and ask, “What am I doing to light up the darkness instead of merely cursing it?”

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