Black History Month 2013 closes after highlighting the achievements made by African-Americans who survived slavery and fought to achieve equal rights. While it’s necessary that our children know their history, it’s absolutely crucial that they LIVE to contribute the gift each of them brings to the world. So as the “Struggle Continues”, it must include putting an end to gun violence and saving the lives of our children.
The Children’s Defense Fund’s statistics cite 32,108 children and teens having died in gun violence in the eleven years following the Columbine High School shooting (2000-2010), averaging 2,919 children and teens or 147 classrooms of 25 children. These deaths occurred every year for 11 years and occurred in every state. During this period, New York State ranked ninth with a total of 1,192 – 940 homicides, 214 suicides and 33 gun accidents.
As with all issues within this capitalist system, debates rage without reaching the point where humans matter over profit. There’s a need for parents to take the lead in saving the lives of the next generation, and in doing so we pay the highest tribute to our ancestors who survived slavery. We owe them.
This project doesn’t require attendance at meetings, rallies, although the choice is yours. It’s just important to know that we’re going back to first base and retrieve for ourselves and our children that which was lost and remains unretrieved, appreciation and love for self and others which equals reclaiming relationships with others as our highest-held value. Today, the journey begins with every adult, parent, teacher who has concern for the children. You are urged to engage in a project of reconciliation with the people in your life, take responsibility for the choices you’ve made, especially the other parent of your child and engage in a process of forgiving those you feel have wronged you. You are then able to demonstrate genuineness and empathy with the children and adults in your life, giving them space to grow. Children are in dire straits; estranged parents – many in embittered court battles, others abandoned by one or both and some not knowing who their father is. We owe them more. We owe ourselves more.
This is the time to remember that we, each of us, are expressions of Creative Energy (whatever you choose to call it), capable of living a purposeful life with cooperative and harmonious relationships. As parents, we must model a liberated life if our children are to fulfill their potential. It will require our uprooting and replacing the habits born from a sense of powerlessness with habits that come from self-knowledge, self-love and most of all divine right. We say the steps to developing a sense of being worthwhile, loved, capable, responsible include the following:
1. Make peace with your past – This includes forgiving your parents for whatever you think they did to you, regardless of how much agreement you have from others that your sibling was the favorite.
2. Take responsibility for the relationship that produced your child and make sure your child has a relationship with both parents because children suffer when they don’t. They suffer when one parent puts the other down. The suffering may not be verbal but it’s emotional and we’ll be looking for emotional wounds among our imprisoned youth. You and your partner may not have had a purpose (other than sex) for your relationship at one time, but now you do –saving your/our child.
3. Give your child individual attention regularly. Find some pocket of time for each of your children. It may be five minutes but those few minutes sends the message, “With all my parents have to do, I am important”.
4. Acknowledge your child’s feelings. Unexpressed emotions often grow into anger and violence when left uncommunicated. Allow your child the space to speak the feelings, cry the tears even when you may not understand or agree with them. Remember that emotions are transient as long as they can be expressed. If not expressed, they may affect the child’s perception of people and things in a negative way for years to come and is quite likely the cause of the level of violence experienced today. We live in hypocrisy, anger and violence as a result of the conditioning to hide feelings.
We’ll continue with the remaining steps next time. If you’d like a copy of the exercise “Making Peace with your Past” send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.