I Am, Because We Are


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By Robert Lilly | April 1, 2009

“The opposite of compassion is not hate. The opposite of compassion is indifference.” – Author Unknown Our so-called leaders have to be indifferent to our suffering because they are not doing enough to change what is happening to us on the bottom. But let us get clear about what indifference means. Indifference in the Encarta Dictionary is defined as: 1) lack of interest, care or concern. So, the question is who really cares and what should that care look like?Many times we point out the hater and condemn him or her for their wrong stance or behavior. However, I contend that even more shameful a position is to be found indifferent in the face of wrong or injustice. This is especially true when you have the power, position and influence to raise your voice or lift your hand to change what is wrong to right. The reason for this judgment on my part is because people who are indifferent are the equivalent of the person who witnesses a rape or murder and not only does he not step in to defend the victim but also refuses to even hate it in his heart as an abominable act. In fact there is no emotional attachment. That which he does not perceive to affect his immediate life is of no interest or concern to him. How unfortunate – for him! For, we are far more connected and indivisible than he could ever imagine. He will have to answer for his position, depending on what one believes, either to God, man or both. I have often agonized over what was more of a threat to us: those who harm us from outside our community or the apathy of those who reside within our community? Today I am inclined to believe that the greater threat is from those who are within the walls of the city and do nothing to protect the city from its enemies who lurk outside its walls. These are the ones we must fight against with even more resistance than the enemy outside our gates because we can’t even put up a defense against the lurking foe with this dead weight upon our backs. And how we fight such scoundrels is by exposing them and calling them out and forcing them to do what is right. One person can’t do it on their own it takes the masses and the masses know who has sold us out for a small gain. Many of us are suffering because we are forced to carry the burden of another. This is definitely wrong when that other person is quite capable of carrying his own weight. If we are a community, and I say we are, then each of us as members are duty bound to tote our own load. The problem is, in my opinion, too many of us are not quite sure we belong to this community for which we speak.What makes a community a community? It is created when people share similar concerns and interests. Ask yourself, do we have similar interests; we have been told that we should not talk to, associate with or congregate with those who don’t share our beliefs to the letter. This is anti-community! How can we ever come to common terms with each other if there is never an occasion for us to gather and to relate? Some of us stay next door to people we never speak to, and in some cases the behavior of your neighbor may be a good cause to not speak, but what about prayer? Would it not be better to pray for your neighbor than to call the cops? How about leading a prayer vigil down your street with the members of your church home? We have to, if we are to survive, return to a time when our faith removed the chains that bound our hands and feet, returned us to loved ones lost to the slaver’s auction block, comforted us on the battle fields of foreign lands and enabled us to forgive our men who had gone astray with wine, women and wonderment. Where is that faith when we need it? If there ever were a time we needed it – it is now!With homicide so high amongst our youth and drug and alcohol consumption putting us behind bars, we need the prayer warriors to get back in the fox hole and not come out until we see a change in our state. We need to start caring about each other again and stop all this back biting and arguing and name calling and labeling. These are anti-community practices.Dr. Amos Wilson, a black psychologist and retired probation officer from New York City said in his speech to the Third Eye heritage society of Dallas, Texas, in 1995, before his early death, “When you talk about black-on-black violence, and miseducation, these problems, to a very great extent flow from our powerlessness. They flow from the fact that we have not developed the power to change our circumstances. And that we will not change our circumstances until we develop real power.”“Real power”, he said. Power is defined as the capacity to do something, the ability, strength, and force needed to move something. Or, control and influence as in control over other people and their actions. I think we would be safe in saying that we, black folk in Abilene, Texas are essentially powerless. We have less power to do what we must do for our advancement then we need and then we have potential of. We have potential power, yes, but that potential is hindered from being expressed and unleashed because we are so scattered and divided. Now, some may say, “Well the African American community is not a monolith”. True, but I say in response that this diversity that some of us so desperately swear by is antithetical to the very ends for which they say they strive. And what might those ends be: raising the test scores of our failing children in these “killing fields” called public schools. If you think my criticism too harsh just go online and ‘Google’ drop-out rates for Texas students. Next, we have the proclaimed aim of building the economy, reducing crime, improving the environment, and increasing opportunities for upward mobility. These are but a few of the examples of what some such people say they strive for. Nevertheless, what they fail to see is that we can accomplish far more, provided we were unified, than by using this individualistic, self-centered approach I see far too many people engaged in. It is all about the individual’s goals getting accomplished. Whatever happened to the idea of collectivism? Collectivism is the system of control and ownership of factories and farms and of the means of production and distribution of products by a nation’s people. To some that might smack of communism, but tell me, what has your Keynesian, so-called free market strategy done for the masses? From the looks of things, it’s bad for the masses. We, in the impoverished communities throughout America that are similar to Abilene, Texas need to take a new route and because we have tried everything but working together, that seems the best and most logical route to take. Yet still we have to contend with the people who say unity is either impossible, or utopian. I disagree; I am willing to cast my hopes on the God I serve and the chance I see possible for our future, provided enough of us become convinced that unity is better than disunity or factionalism. A great number of the people would be willing to join hands if it were not for the leadership that keeps them divided. They are greedy vultures who would prefer to keep the people in bondage than to see them united in spirit and in truth. If we could just have enough faith in God to trust that there is far more we have to offer each other than not, we could see our way to come together to change our sickly condition, but we’d rather listen to the voices that nay say. And our listening to them is the cause of our suffering. If we can throw them off and their shackles we would be all the better for it.My proof for this stance comes from the word of God; “My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also reject you as my priests; because you have ignored the law of your God, I also will ignore your children. The more the priests increased, the more they sinned against me; they exchanged their Glory for something disgraceful. They feed on the sins of my people and relish their wickedness. And it will be: Like people, like priests. I will punish both of them for their ways and repay them for their deeds . And, “Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone. Woe to you Pharisees, because you love the most important seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces. Woe to you, because you are like unmarked graves, which men walk over without knowing it. One of the experts in the law answered him, “Teacher, when you say these things, you insult us also.” Jesus replied, “And you experts in the law woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them” .The surest path to overcoming this predicament is for us, the common folk to form our own alliances and to unite around those issues that affect our lives. We are not the ones who will drive up to nice homes after the Sunday services, we will go back to our hovels and our children will go back to their pathetic schools and we will have to contend with the debt and the grief caused by our children growing up without a love of themselves because they have been bombarded by this sterile message that subtly teaches them to hate themselves and to love those who spitefully use and abuse them. That is a message that the youth will continue to reject and we will have to contend with the damage our apathy has caused us. Let us unite and throw off the shackles of those who exploit us and keep us enslaved to wretched poverty!