Justice and Advocacy

Huck’s Lesson: Twisted Perception

The following was originally posted May 2, 2012. It was part of a two-part series, the second of which was lost. While I am no longer a Christian and I don’t use the N-word anymore even in quotations, I like this post because it shows how I was beginning to question what is right, regardless of what I was told about God. 

 “It would get all around that Huck Finn helped a n*** to get his freedom…the more I studied about this the more my conscience went to grinding me, and more wicked and low-down and ornery I got to feeling…Providence…was showing me that there’s One that’s always on the lookout, and ain’t a-going to allow no such miserable doings.

“…Something inside of me kept saying, ‘There was the Sunday-school, you could ‘a’ gone to it; and if you’d ‘a’ done it they’d a learnt you there that people that acts as I’d been acting about that n*** goes to everlasting fire.’ It made me shiver. And I about made up my mind to pray, and see if I couldn’t try to quit being the kind of a boy I was and be better. So I kneeled down. But the words wouldn’t come. Why wouldn’t they? …I knowed very well why they wouldn’t come. It was because my heart warn’t right.”

Looking at the story of Huckleberry Finn, it’s easy for us to see that he was raised in a society that had it all wrong. Of course African-Americans are people just as deserving of friendship, love, and help as anyone else. However, Huck found that his very conscience had been wrecked by the mindset of the south.

I sometimes wonder if this is the case for most people: not that we’re right, but that we feel right because our very conscience has been shaped by evil forces. It’s a scary thought.

A friend of mine once explained this by alluding to a young prodigy in music. He explained that such a child is given fame in our culture because we appreciate music. Suppose, though, that the prodigy was born into a culture where music was seen as wrong. The eagerness to touch illegal instruments, the urge to write the songs playing inside his head, would feel like hell to this little boy. Interestingly, the problem is not the music; the problem is the paradigm.

The same went for Huckleberry Finn. His crime was not befriending and helping Jim, he had just had the misfortune of being unable to educate himself in the ways of God, and instead was left believing what those around him said. His paradigm told him that to help a slave escape was an act deserving of hell.

While God never wants you to go against what He says is right, what society thinks is right often doesn’t line up with what God thinks is right, so following God may require doing things that seem wrong based on your upbringing.

What are we taught today that makes us feel like we’re not doing the right thing?