Monday, June 6, 2016
Beyond a Boxer, He Was the Greatest!
"I am the Greatest," declared Muhammad Ali who just died. He may have been silenced but this distinguished man still stirs discussion everywhere, it seems. He does. A principled guy for peace and justice he brought home prisoners of war in the first Gulf War, history records. Muhammad was misunderstood much the same way Detroit bishop Thomas J. Gumbleton is not understood for his bringing back home prisoners of war from Vietnam. Gumbleton was called a communist by those who hardly knew him, including some of my family members. Muhammad needed to say that he was the greatest. It was a mantra that marked him as a victor beyond being a victim that many Blacks were branded. Like Pope Francis who is declared a socialist by some, I find myself saying, "Hello, Bergolio is from Argentina, and the Gospel of Saint Luke tells of how the early Way of Jesus shared everything in common. They did. So, what does that make Americans and the man of the hour, namely Ali? We need voices like Ali. Like Gumbleton. Like the Biblical prophets who speak up. They speak truth to power. They stir wrestling within most of us when we get right down to it. We don't like the trust, or, we can't stand the truth. In turn, Martin Luther King, Jr., among others were murdered. Like Jesus who stood up for the "least among us" when others simply sat down. He did. Do we need loud and clearly, clarion-calling voices against violence today? Sure do! While youngsters are mass murdered daily in urban setting, outspoken women and men need to speak up. We have to stand up for the little children who have no voice of their own yet. Who will be the greatest and speak up for the little lambs, so to speak? Who? Ali was the greatest because who sided with the little women and men of America. He was a boxer, for sure. But, beyond boxing, I enjoyed hearing his heart and wisdom unfold with truths. So many trust did Ali tell. Muhammad Ali may be dead, yet his 'bites' do bite us in the collective conscience of a Nation that must choose a path for single-parent households, for boys and girls who need mentors when dads or moms abandon and neglect them. Let the next generation of the greatest, please arise? You are needed as much as Ali, Gumbleton, other prophetic voices who refuse to be quiet even after their final breath. Their truths ring and resound in our ears. Lawrence Matthew Ventline is a Catholic pastor who has been a board certified professional counselor for four decades. Father Ventline is a native of Detroit, MI. Reach him at, www.religionrootsrelationships.blogspot.com.