Sick and tired of sick and tired
By: Pastor John Dietz, Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Lake County News Chronicle
Over the last few weeks a number of people have had to call in sick to work, make doctor’s appointments, or miss some school. This “stuff” is going around (and around and around) and it seems like once you get sick, it sticks with you for a while. I heard someone last week say, “I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired.” “I know exactly how you feel,” said another sniffling, sore-throated bystander.
And the same day I was part of that conversation, I happened to be reading – skimming, really – this book, and off one of the pages jumped those same exact words: “I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired.” The woman who said it first actually said, “All my life I’ve been sick and tired. Now I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired.” Her name was Fannie Lou Hamer, and she was not talking about the cold or flu. Ms. Hamer was a civil rights leader born in 1917 in Mississippi.
A Baptist minister and a friend of Martin Luther King, Jr. organized the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in 1962. The group – called the SNCC – was formed to register African Americans to vote. He explained to the group gathered at the committee’s first meeting that African Americans who try to register to vote in Mississippi – or anyone else who tries to get African Americans to register to vote – will suffer. You’ll be harassed, you’ll lose your job, you might get beat, they may even lynch you, he warned.
The first person to sign up for the SNCC that day was Fannie Lou Hamer. Despite the warnings, regardless of the risk, uncertain of what might come, Fannie Lou Hamer wanted to register to vote. "I guess if I'd had any sense, I'd have been a little scared,” she said, “but what was the point of being scared? The only thing they could do was kill me, and it kind of seemed like they'd been trying to do that a little bit at a time since I could remember."
Fannie was recruited by the SNCC for her courage and her spirit. She began traveling the South, encouraging others to join the civil rights movement. A year later in Winona, Mississippi, she was arrested and beaten by the police, nearly to the point of death. It took her over a month to recover from her injuries, and then she was right back at it. To quote Fannie Lou Hamer: “Nobody's free until everybody's free.”
On the same day many of us watched the second inauguration of President Barak Obama this week, we also observed Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. We remembered not only the life and work of Dr. King, but of other people like Fannie Lou Hamer who have worked – and continue to work – for freedom and equal rights and dignity for all people.
As people of faith, we believe we are connected to the life and values of Jesus, who said, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor" (Luke). Faith means, not only believing in Jesus, but following Jesus by doing what he did: living out the unconditional, unlimited, unending love that God has for all the people of the world.