* * * * *
And the other thing I think is about a guy I’d read about named Clarence Jordan, a white man who had founded an interracial farming commune in rural Georgia in 1942. And this got the attention of the local Ku Klux Klan. So every now and then at night they would come by, shoot a shotgun, throw a firebomb at the houses. So Clarence had a problem, but Clarence was a disciple of non-violence. So he did one thing that you do, is you try to find some mundane human activity that you share with your enemy and use it to make them see you as a person.
So one day he’s at the local post office and he sees some Klan guys and he goes over and he says, “Hey, fellas. Are you married?” And they go, “Yeah.” And he says, “Children? Do you have children?” They go, “Sure.” And he says, “Well you know how when a baby wakes in the night and it’s fussing and you just can’t get it to go back to sleep? And you’re up until dawn?” And they say, “Oh, yeah. God.” And he said, “Well when you shoot at us it wakes the babies. And we have a hard time getting them to go back to sleep.”
–”This American Life,” ep. 420
Clarence Jordan, by the way, wrote the Cotton Patch Bible–a radically re-interpreted translation of the New Testament. A sample (Matthew 13):
After they had checked out, the Lord’s messenger made connection with Joseph in a dream and said, “Get moving and take your wife and baby and highball it to Mexico. Then stay put until I get word to you because Herod is going to do his best to kill the baby.” So he got right up, took the baby and its mother and checked out by night for Mexico. He stayed there until the death of Herod. (This gave meaning to what the Lord said through the prophet: “I summoned my son from Mexico.”)