An American Parable
“Woe to him who builds his house by unrighteousness And his chambers by injustice, Who uses his neighbor’s service without wages And gives him nothing for his work.” Jeremiah 22:13
This is the story of a man who was a part of a community that had it’s problems, but also triumphs. He was compelled by national law to move to another place and help his new found neighbor with his home. The man’s name was Maroon Moor. This new town was full of traditions and culture that could not be fully grasped at first. He was honest and decided to move His entire family along. When in new surroundings it feels good to be able to connect with something familiar. Although it seemed like his decision, the circumstances made it impossible for Maroon to leave them back in his homeland. He remained very aware of his responsibility to care for his 5 children especially in this foreign land. He got to work immediately after the move and actually looked toward the day when he’d be free from this obligation. You see not only did his location change but also his name did. Forced to take on the name Smithson apparently no one at his new locale would be able to pronounce his real name correctly.
Thereupon moving he was informed by the local government, that he was required to help his neighbor renovate his home as a part of gaining citizenship to the country. He reluctantly agreed although the policy sounded suspicious the wheels had already been set turning by him moving his entire family there. Maroon was perturbed because the abuse began on the first day. He had yet to learn to speak and read the language fluently, but the vitriol with which abuse was hurled in his direction was easy to translate. His return home each evening became a more and more dejected process that slowly sapped his pride like the water that leaks from a hastily built dam. For this was not child’s play and required a complete gutting of the house. The newly minted “master” was not kind in any way and would relish describing the free helper as lazy and destitute. Even the neighbor would love to learn more skills but was relegated to the mundane work of destroying old walls and watching as new ones went back in their place. Sunup to sundown each day the work stretched on into months and Maroon at times would sleep there as to prove he was committed to the project.
The longer he stayed away the greater the chance there would be a frustrated spouse waiting for him as he finally arrived home. The yelling would pierce the darkness and send all of their children scattering for the hills uncertain of the devil that had gotten into their father following the cross country move. He was exceedingly irritable so many learned to stay out of His way permanently. Youngest to oldest became preternaturally sensitive to the stress and anxiety the situation was causing their mother. Soon they decided to make it as easy on her as possible. No matter what chores were completed or the way they collected right as Mama yelled “dinner”, mere children could not turn her apparent sorrow into joy. Previously their childhood exuberance was able to snap her out of constant production mode to join carefree feet in a fun game of sprint through the sprinklers. That time was over and slowly but surely food began to disappear faster than it was replaced and the fights became more frequent and vigorous over the months and years until one day while Pops was next door working Mama packed the kids up and took the children back to where she was raised. Some were slightly sad about leaving their father but the narrative of him being a hard taskmaster made that grieving last for only as long as the house was within the rear-view mirror. They were on to a new adventure that would soon have them exploring their mothers’ old haunts under the tutelage of their austere and well-respected grandfather, Luke Muse.
Pops had to stay back and work for the neighbor longer and soon lost the home where they all once lived. At that time he began sleeping in the van and found that he was soon so destitute that recognition by friends and neighbors was impossible. The environment of the municipality had forced him to lay all he had on the line and he lost it all. So much life was gone and the home seized yet the days stretched on as the neighbor piled abuse upon Maroon’s head. Then one day just like that the neighbor, Clark Carnal approached Maroon during a lunch break. “Hey there, Smithson”, he parroted with a smirk on his face. You see he knew his real name but derived a sort of sadistic delight by calling him the “new name”. This was like the times in the Bible when Abram or Jacob began to be called by a different name and this was God changing their fortune and giving them an identity not based on their earthly position but based on their heavenly purpose. Just like that but the opposite, a wound that opens as the syllables are uttered and a current reminder of all that has been lost. He then began to alert Maroon to the fact that his job had run its course and Clark would not need anymore of his services. The purpose that Maroon had a few moments before had been snatched away with a quickness and his work could no longer feed the grief of the PTSD and losses piled on top of one another for all eternity. The flood of tears came swift and hot as he kept his head down to retain the last shred of dignity he possessed.
Sulking off into the day blinded by the promises of a brighter day lost. Maroon slept in his van that night with a knot of anxiety he had not known before and the restlessness that would go into his legs and cause him pace around the small patch of land provided. Maroon had been “liberated” by His generous overseer. Clark himself never ceased a pat on his own the back for the “great job” he’d done. It was as if to the oppressed the moral decisions had always been preceded by 1000 despicable ones. Yes Clark was carnal but was a man that attended church regularly and prayed to the God that existed on pictures around his home. Yet Maroon Moor knew he would still return and act like a devil on Monday. Maroon was free!! And he acted that way as best as he could and attempted to reconstruct his life. He found a new wife and began to grow another family built a home on a small patch of land that he had to pay dearly for and work with the same sunup to sundown schedule. Yet was he happy? Life seemed to be turned to some sort of normalcy. Clark decided to sell the home for 100 times what he had originally paid for it. This was snapped up quickly by many other well to do folks who felt it was their duty to steward this home that had been beautifully built. On the day Clark moved out Maroon approached him and asked for his share of the proceeds, which were significant. With them Maroon could buy his own town, build a church, 50 homes and even a school. Clark recoiled in horror and seemed disgusted that the lips of Maroon would even formulate such an ask. “Hell naw” was the pointed response that rolled off of his tongue. He then watched as Clark trotted off into the sunset with the earnings and financial destiny that belonged to Maroon.
The years passed by and due to a high court ruling the law that required Maroon to help Clark was found unconstitutional. But Maroon found there was no way to enforce the law retroactively. Here he was after all of these years reeling from the crimes and atrocities he and people who spoke and lived and looked like he did had endured. Essentially he was being told to “get over it”. This stung even as Clark began to re-frame his life as a moral authority who was expected to weigh in and even intervene in matters of dispute around the world. What Clark did not realize is he had disgraced the basic core nature of his humanity and that of Maroon. How could he be restored in His soul without making this crime right? Many began to understand this as the centuries passed by. Prosperity built upon the back of crime could only last as long as the silence of the winds of time.