My Psalm 72
The railroad was a lifeline to settlers in the expanding United States. It carried everything from people to farm supplies and produce to cattle to cars from the Henry Ford Company. One particular railroad serviced states in the Midwest and the province of Ontario. It made stops along all five Great Lakes and crossed the Mississippi, first as a ferry railroad and later over the bridges constructed.
In 1855 a man deeded ten acres of land to the Wabash Railroad for a train depot which was named after him. The station led to a settlement which was named after him. The settlement became a town which was incorporated in 1895
This town was similar to many in the country just as the railroad responsible for its birth. The railroad company was a product of small companies merging with larger ones, that company going bankrupt and being bought out by a stock holder who then expanded again only to suffer losses and sell out, merge with another railroad or again go on the auction block. Such companies were then bought again and the whole financial carousel repeated itself until the railroad became a part of one large conglomerate.
The town, however, stayed much like it had begun. A community for the people in the area, today it covers six square miles. The 2010 census reported that over twenty-nine percent of the residents are Caucasian with sixty-seven percent identifying as African-American. Like many towns of its size, the economic turns of the 1990’s and first decade of the twenty-first century took a toil on Ferguson. The 1990 census reported seventy-three percent Caucasian and twenty-dive percent African-American.
Thirty percent of the people in this town were married as in reported in the 2010 census while thirty percent were also single households led by a female. Thirty percent reported as non-families and, to continue the theme of “thirty”, the average age of a resident in the town was….thirty!
Not surprisingly, as typical as this town is, it is located on what is commonly known as the Main Street of America. You probably know it best as Route 66. This historic highway, crossing the United States of America, was the main thoroughfare for those traveling in more updated transportation than covered wagons as they moved west. It was especially popular during the Dust Bowl Days of the 1930’s.
For many, Route 66 is the USA. Traversing the country, communities along its route represent the average American. From Chicago, Illinois to Santa Monica, California all 2471 miles offer a slice of Americana. From its beginnings as part of the “Bunion Derby” to helping advertise the 1932 Summer Olympics, Route 66 and the towns located along it have helped been a part of the campaign known as “America on the Move”.
Unlike some parts of Route 66, the area surrounding our town has not fallen away. While economic downturns have been experienced and census numbers testify to the changing population, it is still located in a thriving county in its Midwestern state. Though over one hundred years old, it has weathered the test of time and sadly, even the decommissioning of Route 66 in the mid 1980’s.
However, our snapshot Americana town has not been serene this past week. You see, the town I have described is Ferguson, Missouri. Age old suspicions and discriminating habits coupled with hasty actions on the part of many are tearing this town apart. Unfortunately, recent disturbances have changed Ferguson from a town on the move to a town torn apart.
A teenager was shot and the person doing the shooting was a police officer. No matter the justification or lack thereof, the loss of life must be mourned. Elected officials must assume their place as leaders and the community of educators and religious leaders need to step forward and provide leadership and counseling. Fear, anger, and grief cannot override decency and common sense. Just as in the clip below, we must come together, different people, different ages, different colors, and harmonize a productive community.
My Psalm 72
Dear Father, please bless our land and its people.
Let us live with justice and righteousness.
Grant us wisdom in moving forward.
Bless us as you have preserved us in the past.
Help us practice goodness and mercy to all, Lord.
Grant us a future as protected as we have been in the past.
We sing your praises, O Lord, and glorify you.
Protect your children and receive those who perish into your loving arms.
You, O Lord, are the Most High.
We sing your praises for ever.