Today I am pleased to have a guest blogger, Kevin A. Bouknight, a Human Relations major in the School of Professional Studies. Kevin has two children and is a minister, fourth generation, both of his parents are ministers as well. He sent me this essay reflecting on the current state of affairs in our nation and I was so moved I asked his permission to publish it on this blog. Thank you, Kevin, for speaking from your heart!
By Kevin A. Bouknight, Human Relations major, SPS
As a father, my true American dream is where my children are safe and free to be children. My dream is to live what Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said: to have my children judged by the content of their character, not the color of their skin. I would add: nor the assumption of race by the spelling of their names.
My dream is not farfetched or nonsensical. Growing up, I experienced living in a neighborhood that could best be described as a local version of United Nations. Families from different nations and cultures lived in peaceful and harmonious community with each other. We all went to the same schools. We all played together. We all had sleepovers. Every house’s door swung on welcome hinges. Interestingly enough, this was in the 1970s, right after the Civil Rights Movement.
What happened? My children did not have that experience. Neighbors no longer are neighbors. The only way people who live next door to each other know each other’s names is by accident. That is so sad. There is a scripture that says: “he who has friends must first show himself friendly,” (Proverbs 18:24). However, we keep our heads down and eyes glued to our phones/tablets/iPads.
My heart is heavy. We don’t care about each other anymore. It’s all about me, myself, and I, sometimes mine (as in family). As the old song asks: where is the love? What happens to others should affect us, even if that person is not a close personal friend. We have become very desensitized to the plight of others. We use the excuse that “it’s not my business.” Really? How would you feel if nobody cared about you? Seeing this uncaring attitude makes my heart ache.
My father (a minister) gave me some insight about love vs. hate. According to my dad, the opposite of love is not hate. It is not caring. Think about that. In order to hate something, you have to care about it or it had to have done something to you. If you don’t care, whatever happens, happens and you aren’t fazed left or right about it. You are not affected by it. You don’t think about it. As far as you’re concerned, it is a tiny gnat that died when no one was looking.
Hatred, on the other hand, is just as powerful as love. It is the same as love, just at the other end of the same spectrum. The passion is the same. The level of emotion is the same. Both will make you cry, and in some cases, laugh. Both have a positive and negative side. The difference is hate is used to hurt others. Love is used to help others. Hate is selfish. Love is selfless.
Recent events have brought me to tears: the shootings of unarmed Black men, the bombings in London and Paris, the rioting in many places, the civil unrest in Charlottesville, VA. All of it is shameful, disheartening, divisive, unholy, just downright wrong. When I think that there are those who, because they feel threatened, join hate groups like the KKK or the neo-Nazis or the Black Panthers, my heart hurts. To know that the mentality of a good chunk of the United States is stuck in the 1800s is heartbreaking. Can’t we all just get along?
I am an African-American male and native Washingtonian. I recently walked down Wisconsin Avenue one evening, going home after school. As I walked past this older Caucasian woman, she moved away and clutched her purse with one hand and her jacket with the other. Rather than walk past silently, I said to her, “Ma’am, I don’t want what’s in your purse or what’s on your person. You have nothing I want.” And I kept walking.
When I got home, I cried. I was more concerned about her safety than being the one to compromise it. I actually wanted to walk her home to make sure no one bothered her. That’s how I was raised. My parents taught me to care for the elderly. They taught me to honor my father and mother, then they qualified that a mother and a father was a person that was older than me. It meant that an older person was my mother and father even if s/he did not give birth to me. So, for that woman to do that hurt my heart.
My heart is very heavy. There’s this man who works in the Oval Office who is a bigoted racist. I flatly refuse to dignify him by calling him the “P” word. As far as I am concerned, my president’s name is Obama. I’m not talking about him. Donald Trump is a racist, plain and simple. In my experience, when a person has to constantly and vehemently deny that he is a racist, it’s because he is one and is trying to convince other people that he isn’t.
To condone racism blows my mind. Then again, the fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree. His father was KKK, so he grew up in that environment. It doesn’t take a quantum leap to assume he holds those same values dear. We have seen evidence of racial discrimination. We have seen evidence of sexism. We have seen evidence of intolerance. Yet, he was elected to the highest office in the United States. What does that say about this country?
When I look at how the world is laughing at us, my heart is heavy. I recently obtained my passport. But, I don’t want to travel abroad anymore. I fear being ridiculed because of Trump’s stupidity. No American should live like that. And, this world is too big for that. However, it’s there and it ain’t goin’ away anytime soon unless Trump learns the value of shutting up. There is an old proverb: it is better to be silent and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and confirm it.
My grandfather lived to see the first African American president. I remember his tears of joy. Thank God he did not live to see where we have fallen since that momentous day. His tears would be of shame now. Will their grandfather, my dad, ever shed tears of joy like his father did? Will they see that? My heart truly is heavy. I have no answers for my children.
Do you have a story you want to tell, a perspective to share with the Trinity community? Send me your essay on email and I will consider publishing it on this blog. Send to firstname.lastname@example.org
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