I cannot, nor will I ever forget the lessons that I learned as a child. There are times now—even at the age of 42 (can’t believe I just wrote that!)—when I still hear my grandmother’s, my great grandmother’s, and my mother’s voices instructing me on the right path; especially when I have a major decision to make. I admit, I still run some things past my mother. I respect her and the wisdom that comes with her age and experience. If my grandparents were still in this earth, I’d seek them out as well.
Lessons of responsibility and the importance of making a sound decision came early in my life. Lessons concerning how our actions bring forth consequences, followed. There are some lessons I wish I didn’t have to learn; lessons that come from living and experiencing life, and the lessons learned as a result of another person’s actions. But they, too, are apart of my make-up and what makes me the woman I am today.
My childhood was not idyllic. I grew up in an abusive home. I, myself, have been a victim of abuse. Yet, there were still people in my life that cared enough, loved me enough, to step in and to instill in me lessons and values that I continue to live by.
I wonder today, about the many young people that I see; those that I encounter on a daily basis living a life of reckless abandonment. I wonder if there was anyone in their life to instruct them; to warn them? Was there anyone to inform them, or protect them? Anyone to correct them, chastise and discipline them? Or, have we raised a generation of narcissistic, unrepentant, hedonistic, desensitized, lawless adults?
It is quite difficult to witness so many young people making poor and destructive decisions when it comes to life choices. Their actions have been grossly immature and irresponsible. Yet, they take no thought on their actions and the consequences that they will face. They fail to understand and realize is that there are always consequences to one’s actions. Eventually, the price for their actions will come, and they will have to pay up.
Comedians would regularly joke about the difference between how white and black parents reared their children. They would often use the example of parents in the mall with their children, and how the white parents would have such difficult times with their children, and their children would talk back, throw tantrums, and disregard what they were saying. When it came to the black parent, their child would attempt to act out, but all it took was one look; a certain stare from their mother, and that child would fall in line.
Not anymore. It bothers me to see any child disrespect their parent. Yet, it bothers me even more in the African-American community. Why, you might ask? Because I know the statistics for our young black children. I know that they are being profiled each and every day of their lives. I understand that the highest number of inmates are young, black males between the ages of 18-35. I understand that the primary cause of death among African-Americans in the 15-24 age group is homicide. I understand that when we perpetuate a constant picture of fear, hopelessness and disregard for human life; it repeats a cycle. I understand that one in six children in America are living beneath the poverty line, and most are minorities.
I have expressed this before, and will express it again: we need our village back. We need the sense of brotherhood and sisterhood; to look out for one another. We must understand that every child is a reflection of who we are and what we believe concerning ourselves. Not every child has the benefit of a mother and father in the home. And many young people have been raised by a parent(s) who may lack the maturity and skills needed to be proper role models. We have to step in and do something. All it takes is one willing person to make a difference. One person to change one young person’s life.
We are faced with a generation of young adults that desire their fifteen minutes of fame, and are willing to do anything they can to get it; even if that means selling their souls and their reputation, and forfeiting their future for a “right now” moment. I don’t care to see anymore reality shows that exemplify and reward bad behavior. I don’t want to see another generation believe that the only way to make it in this world, to gain the finer things in life, is by selling their dignity. No. It is time to bring back lessons of dignity, self respect, the power of an education. But unless those of us that understand and know this truth, reach back into our communities and take on the spirit of the village; we will lose even more of our children. Dooming another generation to the devices that only seek to destroy them from within, instead of build and propel them to their greatest.