Wednesday, April 29, 2015

I want to cry - seriously!

It is true.  If it would help, I would not be writing, I would be on my face, crying out to God, asking the God who is the center of my life,  Why, God!  Why, I plead with you?  Why are we so blind, so many of us, caught up in our religious rituals while the heart beat of our nation is broken by what is happening, every day on the streets of our great nation?  Maybe that is what is wrong, we believe we are a great nation.  Maybe we have forgotten, the costs that were incurred in bringing us to where we are, today.  Maybe, maybe, maybe, but who knows?  We tend to shrug our shoulders and move on. Or so I "see" what seems to be happening - every other day, on our streets, and feel, helpless.

It started years ago, for me.  I was that unwanted kid - or, so I tended to believe.  My father was gone, the times were bad, so I was sent to live with my grandparents.  On a farm, where the facts of the "Great Depression" were only happening so very far away.  My mother, now a widow, was doing what she could, working as a secretary in Detroit, visiting every so often.  I wanted her to be closer, the other guys, my friends, all had mothers, I only had my grandmother and never really realized how blessed I was.  But there were those occasional visits in Detroit to visit with my Mother, and, where I would eventually learn of the "black creep", the fact that black people were buying up homes in what had been, traditionally "white" neighborhoods.  It angered my mother and I would learn that she knew how to use the "n" word, that I did not understand, then!  I went back to the farm and thought I would forget it.

A few years later however and I was in the Air Force and was now a Sergeant and was responsible for the personnel actions and activities on our base.  My Colonel called me into his office where I would learn that we would soon have seven black NCO's stationed on our base and that I would be responsible to their integration into our previously, all white ranks.  I was to befriend them and let them know, I needed to be informed of any "problems" that might arise from their assignments. When they joined our NCO club, we became more than fellow airmen, we became friends.  Three of them and I became so close, I would eventually attend their funerals.  We had talked of the problems that others had with integration, but these men were very much aware of their responsibilities and there was never any problems on our base while we were there, together.

I would even learn of their feelings when they were referred to as that "n" word and laughed together at the futility of those who tended to use them.

Then, came Georgia.  After seven years in the USAF, I decided to attend college and my mother was instrumental with my being enrolled at Georgia Tech.  What a change!  I had not completed high school but had a GED diploma and found myself in competition for grades with some of the brightest HS graduates I would ever meet,  Later on, I transferred to what is now known as Georgia State University.  It was there that I came into contact with young blacks attempting to register for their education and had to be present as they were rejected.  All of a sudden, I came face-to-face with the fact that blacks and the State of Georgia had differing opinions as to what the term equality meant. And when the Brown v. Board of Education decision was announced, the attitudes of my "white" friends suddenly changed.  It became "us" versus "them".  When the large downtown church I was attending refused to admit a group of blacks who merely wanted to attend a Sunday morning service, I knew I had to take sides.  There was no way I could agree with the prevailing thought of so many of my friends, so I became openly sympathetic with the plight of our black fellow citizens.  I wanted to leave and stand by my "brothers" and "sisters" who were marching across the South to protest the laws that made them, in fact, second class citizens, but my wife at the time was opposed and I accepted her plea that our marriage was even more important.  It wasn't, but that is another story.

There is no way I can ever accept the belief that one race is superior to another.  I guess I learned that in Japan where I was stationed for four years and learned - from those who were there in uniform defending their country earlier, revealing the real differences between the Chinese, the Koreans and the Japanese.  It had nothing to do with their nationalities, it had everything to do with the lessons they had learned from their parents and in most cases, their ancestry.  Most of whom had the same problem that we - as Americans, have and that is, the world is changing and in our case, the concept of democracy is the basis of our rule of law.  Our Constitution starts with these words, "We, the people..." and our laws are meant to reflect that concept.

As a matter of fact, if you actually study the concepts found in the Bible and consider those who waged war against others, down through the ages, you will discover that race has always been a part of the divisions between tribes and nations.  That the Bible does not "take sides" on such issues and that ought to teach us that God wants us to resolve those issues on our own.  The verse that teaches that "we are are to love one another as we are loved by God" (John 13:34) ought to end any thought of discrimination between the races and any others.

I am not through with this issue.  I still have tears in my eyes and an ache in my heart.  It is that time in our history when we either stand up for what is right - now, or we threaten the lives of those who will be coming along after us.

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