When ‘we’ becomes ‘I’

On Thursday I mused on ‘We Shall Overcome.’

The hymn-spiritual of 100 years ago was ‘I Will overcome’. It was changed to ‘We Shall Overcome’ to unite white and black people in the civil rights struggle.

Some from the black community argued that it should stay ‘I’. They said that if you say, ‘We should have a barbecue’ it is a nice idea. If you say, ‘I’ll bring the burgers’ and someone else says ‘I’ll bring some chicken’, then you know you have a meal.

‘We’ may bring a united agreement, but ‘I’ brings personal commitment.

Yesterday I mused on Jeremiah.

Jeremiah was saying that Jerusalem would be destroyed and Jews would be exiled. Local officials said that Jeremiah was a traitor preaching treason. He was arrested and put in a water-storage pit. Sinking deep in the muck Jeremiah was left to die.

Many could have said ‘We should do something about Jeremiah’s unjust treatment’. Ebed–melech, an Ethiopian eunuch, said, ‘I will take action.’ Risking his life he pleaded Jeremiah’s innocence and rescued him.  

A good, just idea needed a personal commitment.

80 years ago, on June 2nd 1940, 3000 schoolchildren were evacuated from Lowestoft to live with families in and around Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire.

Families in Glossop or Worksop could have said, ‘We shall look after these children.’ The commitment of ‘I will take 2 girls’ promised a personal involvement.

At the same time as Lowestoft children were being evacuated, Lowestoft vessels and men were evacuating British and allied soldiers from Dunkirk. Lowestoft vessels made a number of channel crossings, rescuing more than 4000 soldiers between them.

Individual Lowestoft men agreed to risk their vessels and their lives…

Civil rights activists, Ebed-melech, good people from Glossop and Lowestoft…. The united agreement of ‘we shall…’ required a personal commitment of ‘I will…’


‘The Inspiring Force of ‘We Shall Overcome’ by Noah Adams broadcast Aug 28 2013

Jeremiah 38

Lowestoft Journal June 5 2020

2 thoughts on “When ‘we’ becomes ‘I’

  1. Excellent today. An “I” commitment does mean so much more. It compels one to actually do it, as in a promise.


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