My mother used to say, all of the time, that life isn’t fair.
I keep thinking of the “newly homeless,” people who used to have jobs, good jobs, who are now homeless. I think of the parents and family of people who have been killed by senseless gun violence in this nation within the last year. I know a family whose son was a good student and athlete and was headed to college ….but who died during basketball practice. In a historical sense, I keep thinking of Solomon Northrup, the free black man who was stolen and sold into slavery, as depicted in the movie, Twelve Years a Slave.”
Talk about unfair. Dark nights do come, no matter who we are.
When I watched that movie, I kept wondering how Solomon did it? How did he …well, how did any slaves …make it through that horrific experience? How did he keep from going insane or losing hope? I wondered if he woke up every day thinking that this would be the day of his deliverance…and how he kept going when the day at hand turned out not to be that day.
What did he tell himself? What did he do with the feeling of life being unfair as he was beaten and almost killed and treated like a brute?
I can’t even imagine.
But stories like that are good to know; Northrup’s story is as compelling for me as was Nelson Mandela’s. How did he stay sane and hold onto hope for 27 years? I read his book, Long Walk to Freedom and was reminded that within us all there is that strength given to us at the moment we were created.
If we can remember that the strength is there…and if we can turn our attention away from our angst and toward, perhaps, the suffering of others, it seems that light begins to seep through.
Even the tiniest bit of light in the midst of darkness gives hope.
It seems that, when dark nights come, we need to look up and out…and remember that dark nights are not unique and that they are temporary – even if temporary is a long time. Darkness, eventually, is overtaken by light …which is always moving toward us.
As my mama would say that life wasn’t fair, she would also say, “this too will pass.”
A friend of mine, now deceased, wrote a play some time ago called, “Our Young Black Men Are Dying and Nobody Seems to Care.” The playwright, James Chapmyn, composed this choreopoem which has the “voices” of young, black men, now dead, telling their stories. They are dead – some from police violence, some from black-on-black violence, some from HIV/AIDS …and nobody, it seems, cares.
I’ve seen excerpts of the work. What I saw was chilling; it brought me to tears. Young, black, men, crying for someone to hear them, care about them…Chapmyn’s work was spot-on.
And yet, in spite of this work and the truth it shares, the situation is still the same. Young, black men are dying and still, nobody seems to care.
The silence of everyone is troubling; the silence and lack of desire to become involved by black people is heart-breaking. Silence means we acquiesce to situations before us. We are acquiescing to the violence and the “reasons” that the violence is said to occur that we have been fed.
It just doesn’t seem feasible that a person can shoot himself while his hands are locked behind his back …and yet that’s the bill of goods we are being told…and nobody is saying anything.
I wonder if we are afraid to speak up and speak out. Do you remember how, in the movie, Twelve Years a Slave, that nobody said anything, did anything, while Solomon Northrup was hanging from that rope? For hours, he hung there, and people looked…and then looked away. Only a few were brave enough to offer him a drop of water. And I have read how, even during the height of the Civil Rights movement, though everyone knew horrible things were going on, few people had the courage to say or do anything. They had reasons; they were threatened with loss of life, home, job …or all of the above…and so they kept silent. The Civil Rights movement brought about change because young people and children …who had little to lose economically, refused to be silent.
Is it that we are still afraid to speak up against injustice because we feel we have too much to lose? Nobody wants to be labeled…you know, called a “radical” or “trouble-maker.” Everybody just kind of wants to go along to get along…and to hang onto what they have. The threat of economic and social ostracization is real. Many good people have remained silent, trying to hold onto their piece of “the American dream” and what little status they have. Fannie Lou Hamer, I remember, was beaten nearly to death and lost her home when she dared speak up for voting rights for black people. Nobody wants to be beaten or thrown out into the street for standing up for justice.
But what about the children? What about the modern-day lynchings that just keep happening? How in the world does a person with his hands in handcuffs behind his back manage to shoot himself in the head? I don’t get it. Are more of us questioning … but are afraid to “make a stink” about it” Is it that we feel like we cannot afford to speak up and speak out?
Is that why our young men are dying …and nobody seems to care?