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From the Super Bowl to the Black and Puerto Rican Legislative Caucus: Two Memorable Weekends

April 8, 2016 by Herbert Daughtry

Part Twelve

On Monday, February 15, 2016, I took the solitary trip back home. There was something stirring in my head ever since Leah spoke. I couldn’t figure it out. Driving across the highway, I replayed all of the events of the Caucus Weekend, especially rehearsing Leah’s speech. Then, it occurred to me, we had been in Albany in 1977 at which time, I was asked to give the Invocation.

Some of Leah’s statements had a familiar ring. When I returned to the church, I found one of the old newspapers which recorded the prayer I had done in Albany in 1977. I will reprint the prayer. I hope you find it as interesting and fascinating as I do. Again, not only because of parental pride, but the theme, the challenge, and the compassion as was in her speech was the same as my prayer.

The Prayer

Oh God, we gather here today, not to apprise Thee of our predicament, for Thou, oh Lord, know all too well that we have created chaos. We have polluted the natural resources. We have created institutions that serve the few and not the many.

Our traditions and mores are still freighted with derogatory content. We have fragmented ourselves into battle camps of religion and race, class and color. In the words of the ancient prophet, “The whole nation is sick.”

But it is this sickness that drives us, individually and collectively, both publicity and privately to Thee, oh Lord, and it is this sickness – the acknowledgement of the same – that gives us hope. For the worst sickness after all is to be conscious of none.

We confess of, God, not only our illness, but our ignorance and weakness of will. There is so much we do not know. In spite of our pretensions of omniscience (for which we seek Thou forgiveness, too), there is so much we do not know. In spite of our pretensions of omniscience (for which we seek Thou forgiveness, too), there is so much we do not know.

It is our conviction that behind the seen world there is a spiritual dimension which fervent consistent, collective personalities can petition to work on personalities who influence the course of events in the material world.

It is to Thy Spirit, oh Lord, to Thou whose concern encompasses the whole creation, Black and White, Muslims and Jews, Protestants and Catholics, that we have come hither today to implore Thy divine interventions for our city and state, our nation and world, and more especially for those legislators whose labor in this place will influence to some extent the whole of life.

As they deliberate and debate, in caucuses and committees, and as they legislate, move them to think and act from the purest motives, and the noblest aspirations, KEEP THEM AWARE, Oh Lord, of the so easily forgotten in our society, the orphans and widows, the weak, the voiceless, and the ailing. Attune their ears to the cries of children bitten by rats and gnawed by hunger pains.

Let them hear the despairing cries of strong men for whom there is no work, at worse, or meaningless drudgery, at best. Yes, let them hear the curses of young men who have given up hope and who vindictively desecrate, attack, and destroy persons and property; and, prey upon the most defenseless. Let them hear the sighs of the aged to whom the last years wax more burdensome with the passing of each day.

Grant them the empathy to identify with the community where rodents run wild, garbage is piled high, and gutted houses proliferate, where education is a farce, where human beings live in unheated, unpainted shacks; while a few minutes’ travel would transport them to communities where dogs dress better, eat better, and fare better; and, cars have more space for shelter than human beings. It all gives rise to hopelessness, despair, and frustrations for one group and contempt and snobbery in the other.

Heighten their consciousness to the awesome responsibility that is theirs to be just decision-makers of the goods and services of this, Thy earth, and that ultimately, it is unto Thee that they must give an account of the deeds done in their day for as Thy love is pure, and Thy judgment is sure.

To further enhance the weight of their responsibility, remind them that, at last, Thou has brought us to be this bend in history, were we have the resources and the technology to alleviate our ills as never before. Heaven and earth are in our hands… The decisions that are made here will nudge us in one or the other direction, and we shall reap the reward of retribution.

Lest they accommodate themselves to the safety and stagnation of what is, let them feel, acutely, the urgency and constraints of what ought to be. Fire them, then, the vision to see communities wherein the sick are cared for, the young are educated, the able-bodied are meaningfully employed, the handicapped are aided, the old are remembered, and the quality of opportunity is extended to all. Inspire them with the audacity of faith which dares to believe that with thy help, it can be done. We ask it in the name of Jesus, the Christ. Amen.

[End of Prayer]

… to be continued.