By David Williams
Have you ever taken stock of yourself? Where have you been and where are you going? Do you allow yourself time to just reflect on the meaning of it all and how you fit in?
I often do that. It seems that I am constantly trying to understand all of this while striving to live a purpose-driven life. As I look around, I’m don’t believe that’s the case with everyone.
I’m reminded of those theme maps from the amusement parks, the ones that mark your location with “X – you are here.” I’m convinced that many of our young people need such a map for life. It could tell them where they are mentally, spiritually, socially and academically. Take a ride through our city and tell me that they aren’t lost. I’ve never seen so many unemployed – and perhaps unemployable – individuals in my life. They are standing on street corners, sitting on porches or leaning on cars. Their pants legs stop at their calves and hang below their rear ends. How in the name of the Emperor’s new clothes do they dress that way?
If it was only one guy, I would say that he’s an original but no; if you see one you’re going to see a bunch of them. It is a slap in the face of our race and culture. Those young men are disenfranchising themselves. Nationalism or racism doesn’t have to do a single thing to prevent them from succeeding, because by their purposeless they are limiting their own opportunities. You can’t speak formal English, your attire isn’t interview nor workplace-friendly, and in many cases, you can’t pass a urine test.
Throughout my life, I have read stories or had stories read to me that inspired and motivated me. The themes of each story had a cumulative impact on me. Hard work, endurance, accountability, wisdom, foolishness, “never give up” and “don’t trust strangers” were reiterated in my storybooks. Robert Frost spoke of The Road Taken, which discusses opportunity lost as it pertains to shaping one’s future. John Updike wrote about Flick Webb, a living basketball legend who failed to take his academics as seriously as his sports. A.E. Housman wrote about the name dying before the athlete and the inability of some to handle that. But prior to those complex themes, books such as The Little Engine Who Could, The Ant Climbing the Rubber Tree Plant and The Little Red Hen imparted to me in simpler terms the attitude required for success and failure.
I understand how socio-economic status can hinder growth. If you have only witnessed aiming low and hitting that area, to set one’s sights higher might seem like a mad dream. But at some point, we’ve got to get sick and tired of being sick and tired. Abraham Lincoln said it best – “No one should do permanently for an individual, what he/she should or could do for themselves.”
The scriptures states, “If a man doesn’t work, he doesn’t eat.” The young people in our communities should be putting in an honest day’s work earning an honest dollar while enjoying all the pride and intangibles that comes from being a productive member of society.
Contact David Williams at firstname.lastname@example.org.