Monday, January 23, 2017
Best of '16: The Birth of a Nation
Brethren, I pray you'll sing to the Lord, a new song. Sing praise in assembly of the righteous. Let the saints be joyful in glory, let them sing aloud on their beds. Let the high praise of God be on the mouths of the saints and a two-edged sword in their hand to execute vengeance on the demonic nations! And punishment on those peoples! To bind their kings with chains, and their nobles with fens of iron! To execute on them this written judgement! This honor have all his saints! PRAISE THE LORD! PRAISE THE LORD! SING TO HIM A NEW SONG! PRAISE THE LORD! PRAISE THE LORD!
Anyone who knows me knows that I am a strict pacifist. It's just how I'm wired. Simply the thought of physical violence between myself and another makes me quite literally sick. That being said, I identify quite a bit with Nat Turner's story in this movie. He grows up thirsting for knowledge, learning to read, and eventually becoming the plantation owner's right-hand-man. Nat's knack for leadership translates perfectly to his ability to share the word by preaching to his fellow slaves. He then falls in love with a troubled fellow slave that is brought to their plantation, eventually marries her, and starts a small family.
Inquisitive, speaker, romantic. As I said, I identify with Nat Turner. So with that in mind, I have to ask myself how far I would have to be pushed to enter his next phase: Violent Rebel. That is, after all, how this man is remembered. The AP identification term even bears his name: Nat Turner's Rebellion. I have never endured anything close to the mistreatment that was felt by these men and women. If I did, I may very well follow down the dangerous path that led to his demise. One of the most significant mistakes that people (especially people of privilege) make is thinking we know what we would do in someone else's shoes. The best we can do is educate ourselves about others' plight, treat them with love and kindness, and try to avoid the mistakes that were made both by them and to them. This movie does a magnificent job at humanizing someone who has been at best neglected and at worst demonized by history. I don't know Nat Turner, but I know Will Tyer and I'm gonna read and preach and love. And I'm also going to pray every day that I am never put into a position to need to rebel.