March 10, 2008

United We Stand

My Aunt Polly has been on my mind, today. If you are a regular reader of this blog, you may recall that she is my mom's sister-in-law, who was married to her youngest brother, Uncle Bo. In another post, I talked about her old neighborhood, which is now mostly a Hispanic community, and how much she misses her old home.

When I last wrote about her, she had been diagnosed with Hodgekins disease, a serious form of cancer, and was facing a series of chemo treatments, with not a very good prognosis. I am happy to tell you, that she came through those treatments quite well, and is now free of cancer. I am sure that her resiliency, and her faith, had much to do with that, which is, maybe, the reason that she was on my mind today.

Over the years, she has lost three sons, tragically--an eleven year old killed when the horse he was riding was struck by a speeding car. A twenty year old, shot with a shotgun while trying to defend someone else, and a son in his forties, to suicide. Last year, only a few days after being diagnosed with cancer, she lost a granddaughter, whose life was tragic in itself, to a drug overdose. Through that newsest grief, she was still resilient enough to bounce back. And that's why she came to mind today, as I watched, and listened to the telling of all the tragic events going on in this country, and other countries, as well.

I was thinking that the tragedies that my Aunt Polly endured, touched my life, yes, but any tragedy that touches another should touch us, in some way, and I wondered about the resiliency of the people of our country. How much longer will we be able to endure such senseless acts of cruelty and violence, which are rampant? I am grieved when I hear about how those two young coeds died, at the hands of young Black men, their lives ended almost as soon as they were begun, imagining the sorrow inflicted upon their families and friends.

I cried with the Black couple whose promising young son was shot and killed a few days ago in California. He was only two or three doors down from his home, while his mother was across the world in Iraq, serving her military duty. I wept with the young man's father, who told with tears streaming down his face, how they had impressed upon him to stay away from gangs, to work hard in school, to do his best, and to make something of himself. Yet, maybe it was because he was not in a gang that he was killed, because when he was asked if he belonged to a gang, he said nothing, and was shot.

I cried as I listened to his mother wail, as only a heartbroken mother can, at the senselessness of his death. He was doing all the things he was supposed to do, all the things that his parents were teaching him, and was killed by some thugs with no regard for human life, nor anything, other than establishing their own personal reign of terror, and dominion over "their territory."

I know that I have written much of this before, but I am genuinely concerned for us, as a nation. Here, where I live, there is a constant stream of street violence, gang activity, shootings, robberies, and just about anything else one could think of in terms of abberant, and abhorrent, behavior. Along with that, there is the constant report of some official, or employee, embezzling large sums of money from organizations which are supposed to be helping those in need, which is not only a local problem, but nationwide.

There is corruption everywhere in the country, and now, today we hear about the governor of New York being involved in a prostitution ring. And right now, as I write, Reverend Al Sharpton is talking about suing the DNC over the delegates situation, and disenfranchised voters. Our government, on all levels, is filled with scandal, greed, and corruption, exposed and hidden.

Where will it all end?

Maybe, we could just get back to taking responsiblity for ourselves, living life in the best way that we are capable of doing, with common courtesy and respect for others and their rights. Maybe, we could get back to honesty, and integrity, and the kind of pride that we once had in the knowledge that we were citizens of the best country in the world, despite its imperfections.

I know that the hue and cry now, is "Change" but I just don't think that change will come through any political system, or any charismatic politician, but change must start within each of us. Maybe, then we would stop trying to drag our country through the mud, and allowing others to make us feel ashamed to be Americans.

Change will come when all of us have equal rights in every sense of the word, and when we stop feeling a sense of entitlement just because we are of a certain ethnicity, or a particular sexual orientation. Change will come when we stop being denied our rights because we are not of those certain select groups. Change will come when the elected officials of this country all start using their positions of power, and their offices, to do what is right, and not for personal power and greed.

It doesn't matter whether we are black, white, brown, yellow, red, or any color in between, we are all human beings, with a responsibility toward our fellow man. I think that it is time that we started acting like it.

Am I proud of my country? You bet I am. The thing that I am not proud of, is the way that we have allowed our rights to be stripped away, layer by layer, until we stand naked and exposed and vulnerable. We do need change, but we have to be sure that it is for the better, and not more of the same, in a different diguise. Perhaps if we do it right this time, we can properly diagnose the cancer that is eating away, insidiously, at this country, treat it, and bounce back from it, as resiliently as my Aunt Polly has from hers.
United, we will stand, proudly.