It’s March 29, Maurice Carter’s birthday, and I’m reading about the President’s political rally last night here in our part of the state.
For those who may not know the story, Maurice served 29 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. He was granted a compassionate release in 2004, and then lived in freedom for just 3 months. It was his dream and his passion that led to the founding of this organization.
Here’s something you gotta know about Maurice.
On a beautiful, sunny day in July, I personally walked him out of prison and placed him in the front seat of Jerry Horne’s luxurious motor home. From that perfect location, he would enjoy the scenic panorama all around him in his short trip from Jackson to Spring Lake, where a welcoming party awaited. A friend presented Maurice with a cell phone…something he had never seen before. During the ride, he placed calls to his friends all over the country. Jerry, who was doing the driving, was able to overhear one side of all those conversations.
The point that amazed Jerry: Maurice never bad-mouthed anyone! Not anyone in the system, not anyone among his accusers, not anyone who shamefully battled to keep him behind bars for half of his lifetime!
And that just wouldn’t fit today.
It wouldn’t fit in a society where polarization is so rife that one is hard-pressed to find civil conversations about crucial national and international issues anywhere anymore. Our national leaders take delight in mocking, deriding and condemning all opponents or even those with differing views.
Maurice was a believer, but that type of attitude wouldn’t fit in with some types of Christians, either. The evangelical church is getting a black eye because a vocal segment of its alleged adherents quote the Bible to blister those persons who have different or opposing views on such things as abortion, immigration, gay and transgender rights, black lives matter, and yes, even political party.
Don’t get me wrong. Maurice Carter was firm in his beliefs, and had definite opinions about unfairness and injustice. But he seemed to understand Solomon’s words in Proverbs 15:
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
We could use Maurice Carter in a lot of ways…especially because of his attitude! It’s a rare commodity these days.
Happy 75th, my friend. RIP. There ain't much here!