Dream a little dream
9th December 2013 · 0 Comments
By Edmund W. Lewis
With the holiday season upon us, I thought I would share my hopes for the season with The Louisiana Weekly’s readers. These are just my thoughts about some of the things the Black community needs in order to continue to grow and prosper:
A greater hunger for knowledge
People used to jokingly say that if someone stole your book(s), chances are it’s a white person because the “brothers” got better things to do than go around stealing folks’ books and other kinds of brain food.
Fortunately, that has changed as the nation has witnessed the number of avid African-American readers grow over the past decade. Interestingly, with the growth in Black readers there has been an upsurge in the theft of African-American literature.
Mercifully, the theft of Black books has gradually dissipated while people of color continue to purchase large volumes of literature by and about African Americans.
While I am very happy that more of us are picking up books and feeding our minds, we still need to encourage greater numbers of African Americans to consume books on a regular basis. If we’re going to find our way out of the madness that has engulfed us, we need more dreamers and thinkers and doers. As I’ve said often, reading opens up our minds and enhances our ability to dream. Furthermore, reading is a connection to the past and allows us to gain access to parts of the world and eras in world history that we would never be able to physically visit.
We must invest in ourselves and in communities of color by supporting Black-owned bookstores like the Community Book Center. The more we support Black bookstores, the better these bookstores can serve the community. Those services may include lower book prices and access to greater numbers of books and products by Black folks.
If we are serious about becoming a free and self-determining people, our hunger for knowledge — a hunger that can be at least partially satisfied through reading – must not be ignored or neglected.
Feed your mind and free your spirit.
Too many of us have lost, or are on the verge of losing, our minds. However, when we think of “crazy” people, we automatically assume that means people who are engaged in some form of extreme behavior. We think of people who talk to themselves incessantly or march up and down the street all day while mumbling to themselves.
We can’t seem to grasp the fact that the mean-spiritedness, jealousy, pettiness, mistrust, suspicion, bitterness, hostility, anger and aggression we exhibit toward one another are all signs of a people who are not well. We need to take the time and make the effort to heal our minds and our spirits.
We often don’t understand that mental health is a blessing that comes from the Creator. So as we wish for peace and happiness this holiday season, let us also say a prayer for greater mental health in the community. Mentally healthy people are people who are mature, focused, compassionate, patient, thoughtful, wise and willing to pay close attention to the needs and concerns of family and friends.
Greater compassion and concern for those around us
One of the things we need to work on is the ability to sympathize and empathize with those we come into contact with in the community. We need to return to the days when we corrected children when we saw them doing something wrong, whether or not we knew them and their families. We need to get involved in one another’s lives and let people know that we are there for them. There are certainly people in the community who do this now, but we need more of us to do it without even giving it a second thought. I pray, therefore, that we can again develop the ability to see ourselves in the next brother or sister.
Once we realize that “there but for the grace of God” we could all go, we will be more eager to do works that are pleasing to the Creator. While we can certainly be grateful that the Creator has spared us in certain ways, we need to be ever mindful of the fact that we can and should help those who are less
Greater spirituality, less materialism
Regardless of who we are or what we believe, it’s imperative that we make a conscious effort to develop a personal relationship with the Creator. It doesn’tmatter if we’re Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, etc. We all need to work very hard at communing with the Architect of the Universe and making certain that our thoughts, deeds and lives are in accordance with His/Her wishes and mandates.
One of the ways of doing this is recognizing the omnipotence of the Supreme Being and the fact that She/He is the source and aim of all life. When some people talk about righteousness, they don’t realize or understand that living right goes beyond organized religion or prescribed notions of what is right and wrong. Righteousness is a way of life, a way of relating to all human beings and the manner in which we choose to move through the world. One need not necessarily set foot in a church in order to live righteously. Some of the people most in touch with the Creator and His/Her divine plans for us have never seen the inside of a church building. The righteous are those who, for lack of a better way of putting it, live right.
Righteousness isn’t about judging others or trying to scare or pressure someone into subscribing to your belief system or way of life. Righteousness is about leading spiritually by example; it’s about letting the manner in which you live your life tell others not only about you but about the Creator. It’s not about using guilt, fear or intimidation to get others to behave a certain way or say they believe in a Supreme Being.
One of the things we must all realize is that we all are on our own spiritual paths and timetables, and that no one can rush us into righteousness. All of us must choose to walk with the Creator, on our own accord, in our own time. Oftentimes, the pressure some of us use in our efforts to get others to “see the light” only pushes them further away from the Creator by making them angry, defensive and resentful.
I pray that we approach our brothers and sisters with the love, patience, generosity and understanding that the Creator employs in dealing with us and our human frailties.
Faith, hope and love
The Christian bible tells us that these are the Creator’s three greatest gifts to us. Without faith, where would any of us be? How could we possibly have survived all that we have endured without our faith intact? Every day we step out on faith, not knowing what lies ahead but trusting that the Lord will make a way somehow. May more of us find the ability to move forward while trusting in the “evidence of things not seen” as we continue to struggle and strive to better ourselves.
Also, it is our hope for the future that colors our attitudes and actions. A hopeful people is not a desperate people. When we lose hope, we become vulnerable to substance abuse, self-doubt, poor decision-making, criminal activity and other forms of self-destructive behavior because we feel we have nothing to lose. It is my solemn prayer that more members of the Black community find the hope in their hearts we all need to keep on keepin’ on, even in the midst of the most trying circumstances.
And love, it is said, is the greatest of these three gifts. It is the Creator’s love for us that made eternal life possible for all of us. Love has tremendous healing power, touching the people we come into contact with. You can always tell who has love in their lives by the way people treat others. Love is patient, love is kind… We’ve all heard the scripture about how love lifts us up and makes all of us better human beings. One of the things we need to reminded of from time to time is that love covers over a multitude of sins. Also, keep in mind that love is one of the things the Creator would have us give to one another constantly, for how can we claim to love the Creator whom we cannot see when we cannot summon the ability to love and care for our brothers and sisters whom we see every day? Though it may sound corny, love always finds a way. Love, therefore, is the bridge that will bring us as a people from the bad times to better days. Without it, we are lost at sea.
The best thing about my wish list is that all of these things are attainable if the community and individuals decide to come together to walk down the straight and narrow road of spiritual enlightenment, empowerment, self- actualization, self-determination and redemption.
This article originally published in the December 9, 2013 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.