Elders' Corner #3
by: Nana Joe Benton
“My enemy said, “love your enemy”, and I obeyed him and loved myself.” - Kahlil Gibran
In my travels and many conversations I hear people lamenting over the youth of today and the propensity for violence committed by them. Yet, since records on violent crime has been kept, the truth is that the last 30 years has seen a drop in violent crime. There is something incongruent with an overall decrease in violent crime and a rise in the perception of increases. Truth based upon knowledge will dispel rumors and gossip.
What has also happened in my travels has been a time to have meaningful conversations with and to listen to, our youth. I am appalled by the misinformation fed to them, how much they devalue themselves and given their preference they would love to fade into the vast abyss of assimilation. They have given up the struggle for self-determination before they have had a chance to determine who they are. Which gets back to the perception, by many adults, that youths are violent, I guess in comparison, with how they were when they were young.
The truth is each preceding generation was more violent than the succeeding generation. The most violent time in the lives of Black folks occurred from 1865 until 1964. In the 1920’s with lynching, chain gangs, gangsters, bootleg liquor and lawlessness being the norm for the land, I challenge grandparents and great grandparents to tell me of time more violent except for the Red Summers of 1917-20. They generally get silent. We forget as adults what it was like when we were children.
Our youth, of today, are destroying themselves from within. The enemy has done a great job, exhorting our youth to love the enemy and we adults have supported that notion. We know where the nonsense comes from, so I will not elaborate but Kahlil Gibran (a North African, more Coptic than Christian or Islamic) offers a positive solution that has been pushed, for years, in our Rites of Passage program and training workshops.
You cannot love others, until you truly love and honor yourself and those in your family and who look like you. True love, can then be given, first and last to those who love you. For do a people, who do not love you, really want your love?