Sen. Ed Emery’s Legislative Report for July 6, 2020

Anarchy vs. Liberty

“We learn from history. We contextualize historical figures with complex legacies. We don’t remove history.”  ̶  Dr. Mun Choi, Missouri University system president

No one can ignore the chaos being imposed across this land, as the streets are filled with protests and a rising tide of civil unrest coincides with renewed calls for social justice. We must remember, at the core of such division, there is always a spiritual battle between right and wrong, between good and evil. Such is no less the case in today’s struggles.

I trust most Americans recognize the difference between liberty and anarchy. I’m also convinced that most of us believe law and order are necessary if liberty is to be preserved. There is a difference between disruption and destruction, however. In my opinion, disruption is the legitimate objective of a peaceful demonstration; its loftiest goal is to cause us to think outside of our preconceptions and opinions. Its purpose is to introduce transitional thinking – the first step to authentically changing one’s mind. Few of us move from firmly held opinions to an opposite view in one leap, but in steps of enlightenment. Often, we discover along the way that neither opinion was 100 percent right or wrong. Reasoning together, listening to one another and asking questions are hugely valuable in reconciling any wrong, whether real or perceived.

Slavery was an evil institution, and Americans were some of the first to acknowledge it as such and seek its abolition. Not all Americans agreed, however, because some could not put aside their financial loss from ending it. Nevertheless, many of America’s Founding Fathers opposed slavery as antithetical to the Declaration of Independence and the concept of individual liberty. The issue was considered so controversial, however, it was avoided rather than resolved. Some contend the U.S. Civil War was God’s judgment upon our nation for not abolishing slavery at the beginning.

The Civil War ended the institution of slavery in America, but did not end discrimination or prejudice. Those are conditions of the heart and mind, and are a reflection of the spiritual warfare that lies at the root of every wrong. I believe we have made noteworthy progress as we seek to understand one another and resolve our differences. For example, a number of states have banned the Confederate flag in public buildings. The Mississippi legislature recently voted to remove that image from that state’s flag. In my opinion, this change did not come from burning buildings or tearing down historic statues, but from a growing understanding about the symbolism of the Confederate flag. Changes will continue in the hearts and minds of Americans who are determined to seek the truth, regardless of whose side the truth is on.

I believe conflict resolution is faster and more permanent when it grows out of relationship. Individuals, neighborhoods, communities and churches are far more fertile for resolution than battlefields. Communion begins “at home.” That champion of liberty, Martin Luther King Jr., was a voice for unification, not division. His was a call to perfecting relationships regardless of color or creed. His “I Have a Dream” speech is worth reading and remembering. His remarks included a stern rebuke of racial discrimination, but his rebuke grew out of a love for this country, a call to patriotism: “. . . Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred,” he said.

“We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protests to degenerate into physical violence . . . The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to distrust all white people,” King said, “for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny . . .

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. I have a dream . . . ”

Can anyone who lived through that era believe that this courageous pastor would approve of the tenets or tactics of the Black Lives Matter movement today? Is there any evidence Dr. King would condone the wanton, tyrannical and senseless destruction of national monuments without public debate, or of indiscriminate destruction of private property? I believe he would stand rather on the principles of scripture and the Declaration of Independence. I’m convinced his appeal would be to reason. I do not believe he would threaten or destroy – disrupt, yes, but destroy? Absolutely not!

The evil and immoral hatred that resulted in Dr. King’s murder at age 39 seems to fill the hearts of those who, in our day, criminalize every peace officer, regardless of their character; who loot and burn and intimidate black lives, as well as white. Their cause is neither just nor righteous. These villains have vividly shown their true colors. They believe force and fear will give them an advantage, but my appeal is to heed the words and spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King’s speech and example. We must stand against chaos, mob action and senseless violence. Demand that change is accomplished by reasoning together instead of attacking one another. We must listen to one another to achieve greater understanding.

In the words of our National Anthem, may we all:  “Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation!”

Thank you for reading this legislative report. You can contact my office at (573) 751-2108 if you have any questions. Thank you and we welcome your prayers for the proper application of local, state, and federal government.