Vindication. There is a bittersweetness associated with it due to the things that have gone before. Although there may be joy and a degree of satisfaction when it comes to fruition, there has to be some regret and maybe even resentment about the journey.
I have recently begun to wonder how Colin Kaepernick must really feel, deep inside, when he observes whole baseball and basketball teams kneel for the national anthem. How hollow do Roger Goodell’s words sound to him? How does he view the level of sacrifice it took for him to stand up for his right NOT to stand up? It’s not that he suffered greatly. He has been able to sustain his life and even create a foundation that enhances the lives of young people. He has been given multiple awards and product endorsements. But does he ever ask himself why he had to endure ridicule from lots of haters, including the “president” of the United States? Does he resent having to navigate the injustice of it all? And does that detract from a feeling that he has been vindicated?
The 44th President of the United States endured opposition and slander that has never been visited on any other. Even his citizenship was questioned by the imposter who now sits in the seat where he sat. One might say that he has been wildly vindicated now that most people of good will wish he could just come back and sit in that seat again. Even the naysayers have been heard extolling his empathetic nature and good character now that neither exists in the current squatter in the White House. Some prominent Republicans have committed to voting Democratic this time around, acknowledging—sometimes reluctantly—that the alternative is a betrayal of democracy. We all can attest that President Barack Hussein Obama never let them see him sweat. We can confirm that he handled it all with grace and dignity. But how must he have felt? When he could just let his guard down and open up to his beloved, did he express how disappointed and disgusted he must have been with the sheer nonsense he had to endure? Was he angry or resentful? Or did he just realize as many of our wise warriors that it was just a part of the process? And his partner, Michelle. What has she had to endure? Of late, she has been transparent enough to share that all the events of late have left her in what she calls a state of low grade depression.
Recently, the Attorney General of the State of New York filed a suit against the NRA. Wayne LaPierre and his cronies were all cited as co-defendants who have defrauded the government by misappropriating the funds of what was classified as a non profit organization. It is a civil rather than criminal suit; but it feels like vindication to some degree as the suit seeks to dismantle the NRA as a nonprofit. On the other hand, when one considers the sheer carnage caused by this gun lobby and the lives lost because they have operated in pure self-interest and greed, bittersweet may be too ecstatic a term. We all should ask ourselves why we had to endure Sandy Hook, Parkland, Mother Emanuel, and so many more mass shootings because their iron fist threatened the self-preservation of lawmakers. We should all feel a sense of sorrow and loss at the high price we have paid for their sins. Talk about a hollow victory! And yet the wheels of justice have at least started to turn in this circumstance.
We now have a Vice Presiden-elect who is the daughter of Jamaican and East Indian immigrants. Senator Kamala Harris has strongly identified with her heritage, graduating from Howard University, pledging Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority and accompanying her parents in her stroller as they participated in marches for Civil Rights. Her candidacy resembles vindication and carries the same bittersweet weightiness as the other examples. When one reflects on the challenges Black women have faced and continue to confront, it makes the victory sweet but the journey bitter. This reality is not lost on Kamala, as she remembers to say Breonna’s name; and acknowledges all the amazing women of color whose lives have been her stairsteps.
We often need to be reminded that God is not mocked! And when He serves up a dose of justice it sounds kinda like BAM! At those moments there is never any doubt that it’s Him meting it out. Many times a significant change accompanies His justice that is transformative. This discourse would be incomplete without a discussion of the Black Lives Matter movement. At times, it feels joyful to reflect on how many of our brothers and sisters of every race and persuasion have embraced the fact that we matter. But the tremendous loss, the agonizing pain, the inhumane treatment that has been endured on this journey leaves that bittersweet taste in the mouth! So much has gone before. The blood of our martyrs stain the moment; and the disdain of those who still hold us in contempt diminishes the revelry. And the questions that hang in the air like smoke : What took you so long to realize that we matter? How could you have not known that we are all crafted in God’s image? Why must we have to suffer so just to get your attention?
Vindication is truly bittersweet. But the story of The Suffering Servant who emerges victorious as The King of Kings and Lord of Lords provides me with some comfort. I desperately need comfort when I consider the carnage and trauma that often precede vindication. This Servant suffered with a divine purpose: to elevate those who were deep in sin to the status of children of God. As a result of His sacrifice, he won victory over sin and death. The suffering and death of one Man has made eternal life available to all mankind. But the FULLNESS of His victory has not yet been revealed. Which brings us full circle, back to the bowing of the knee. For we are told that, in due time, “That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:10-11 KJV).