A row of shotgun houses. They’re the typical old Southern homes where poor folks live. Poor white, poor black. The homes are the same. Small wooden structures, maybe 15 or 20 feet wide, and twice as long. A front porch. A screen door, a small sitting room, a couple bedrooms and the kitchen in the back. The back door. They’re called shotgun houses because you can shoot a shotgun straight from the open front door and through the back door. Actually, the doors are lined up this way to let the cool breeze through when it’s there. Summers are hot in Alabama. Why don’t we call them cool breeze houses? If only the world were so peaceful. But we live in shotgun houses.
It’s a cool autumn night. You’re sitting in the front room when the horsemen ride up. You hear the yelling and laughter of wicked men. The children are afraid. We know about these men. They’ve hurt many people, but always far away. We were told here that if we just kept our heads down and didn’t cause no trouble the riders would stay away. Don’t cause no trouble like those other folk. Talkin’ ‘bout freedom and rights. Stay quiet and they stay away. In our hearts we knew that wasn’t true. The riders don’t need a reason to come to your house. Their hate is all the reason they need. They come when they want. Who they comin’ for tonight?
Shadows dance through the window. The wicked men outside have torches. Fire. The light burns brightly. You know what they’re burning. You shake your head as you slowly stand up. How could men who hate this much claim to do anything in the name of God. God’s love is pure. Only men could corrupt his message into something of evil and hate. But their God is not our God of peace, humility, love, and brotherhood. These men worship fire and death. Their only brotherhood is with others like them. They love power. They will make the weak submit. Submission.
They call your neighbor’s name. It’s your time to choose.
Some say to just stay inside. They’ll go away. Yeah, that’s okay as long as they ain’t comin’ for you tonight. You know they’ll be back. They’ll hurt other people before they come back for you. Strange fruit.
Others say to run out the back door just as fast as you can. Save yourself and your family. But a man can’t run forever. What about your neighbors and friends? Are you leaving them alone? You want to come back when it’s safe, but who will make it safe?
Some have said you just go out on the porch and have a chat. Find out why they so angry. If they know you they won’t hate you. The people who say this don’t understand true evil. The bad men do know us. They live just down the road. Anyway, some have tried talking. A talker coming out on the porch with empty hands brings a smile to the lips of evil men. The evil men see weakness. They see the submission they want. No reason to kill you now. You are vanquished and you don’t even know it.
Some say to fight. These men are pure evil. Their hate knows no bounds. They will kill their own children to destroy us. They know no reason. They are deceived and corrupt. Only their destruction will bring peace. I understand this option. It goes against the teachings of peace and non-violent resistance. But it rings true. With this enemy, non-violence is not resistance. It is submission. Tonight I will make my stand.
I hope my neighbors will stand with me. We can do this if enough of us stick together. Some will want to stay inside or run away. Others still want to talk. I have made my choice. To live in peace, sometimes you must go to war.
I pick up my shotgun and step onto the porch.
Open post at Mudville