By JERRY WOLFFE
Writer-in-residence/Advocate-at-Large at MORC
It's taken nearly 70 years for me to realize this planet and, likely, the Universe is the setting for a battle between good and evil.
As a reporter with some 45 years experience and a person with a disability who has seen more than his share of violent deaths and has been the victim of segregation, discrimination, being beaten and bullied I should have known this as a fact long ago.
It also seems when someone or something is good and can create positive change on this planet, evil seeks it out to destroy it.
For good to survive, one has to remember the Biblical words in Matthew 5:39: "But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also."
I am not sure evil can be defeated since human history is a road with carnage from the start.
If we look at recent history and those with the skills to change society and increase goodness in the world, we can see they suffered.
In January, 1948 after India became a Democracy, free from constraints of the Commonwealth, Mahatma Gandhi was slain. Gandhi himself had been the victim of segregation in southern Africa under Apartheid when he was thrown off of a train. He spent years in prison and his fasts to the point to death to stop violence are without equal in human history.
For good to win, there must be suffering without bitterness or thoughts of revenge.
When the Pakistanis and Indians were killing each other out of fear, Gandhi nearly sacrificed his life by going without food. Today, the two nations, each armed with nuclear weapons, still do not have a stable, long-lasting covenant of peace but at least they are not at war.
In Southern Africa, Nelson Mandela, who died in December 2013, spent 27 years in prison in his fight against the Apartheid policies of his birthplace. Without freedom, he said he was willing to die. His courage eventually led to the elimination of the segregated policies and he became the president of the new nation. He was a man of peace.
In America, our Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., also was a godly man who was willing to suffer in the name of reaching equality for all his brothers and sisters, both black and white. He too became a martyr to die by the bullet of an assassin. But in his time through his magnificent oratory, he lifted a nation's eyes toward a greater good where all men and women are equal in the eyes of man and not just God.
In the case of Gandhi, King and John and Robert Kennedy, believers in civil rights who were both assassinated for those beliefs, it is impossible to know how much better this world would be if they had lived to carry on their work, if not only for just one more speech such as the one King delivered in April 3, 1968 before he was killed in Memphis where he said: "I have been to the Mountaintop." It was a speech about a future American day when we truly all would be loving and accepting brothers and sisters.
Gandhi possibly could have found a way for Pakistani and Indian leaders to let go of their fears if he had more time to show them the way to peace is through patience and love.
When JFK and RFK were slain in the hopeful 1960s, much of America's dreams of equality, survival of the middle class and true opportunity for all died. That's why this nation is failing spiritually.
At a local level, a good man, minister, journalist, father, husband and community activist, the Rev. Angelo B. Henderson, died this weekend (2.15) of natural causes. He was 51. The night before he died, he complained of shortness of breath.
He was a Pulitizer prize winner, just one of 25 black journalists to ever win journalism's highest honor. He also was a radio host at WCHB-AM and FM who made his program a platform for voices from all parts of the Detroit-area community. We and Richard Bernstein, an attorney and advocate for equal rights for those of us with disabilities, often appeared on Henderson's show. Our reporter friend, Dustin Blitchok of The Oakland Press, often accompanied us as we talked about the communities and events we covered, seeking the positive and not dwelling on the negative.
Henderson was one of the good guys, the kind that evil personified makes a point to take out before they become more powerful. But Henderson shall be more powerful in death than he was in life because so many reporters and journalists knew him and will take up his cause of trying to make Detroit a safer place. Henderson helped create the "Detroit 300," a crime-fighting organization he lead to stop the thugs and slayings in the Motor City.
I recall he always was smiling and he never turned the microphone off when even someone full of anger, frustration or hate called his station to let it rip. After spewing forth, the caller, it seemed, was more rational and less likely to continue on a path of evil.
Henderson's funeral will be this week (2/17/2014) and the station on Franklin off of Jefferson on Detroit's East side will find someone else to fill the time slot. But no one will have the type of inner faith, spirituality, humanity and sense of goodness that Henderson had on that show and in his life.
We all are the better for knowing him. And I and my friends know evil got a sharp right cross from this man's righteousness. In his memory, we have a duty to continue to fight evil, poverty, ignorance and anger.
I wish I had appreciated him more while he was alive.