Whatever you do don’t let go.
Have you ever been in a place that felt like home, a place you never thought you would ever leave? Have you had to leave unwillingly? I will raise my own hands to these questions. Unfortunately, this was not my home that I had to leave. I had to leave a church. A holy place, a place that was suppose to have a community of people that loved one another. Unwillingly, I had to leave a place where I thought I had an extended family. I left the place where I was christened, baptized, attended Sunday school and sang in the choir. My third love, was my church family and I had to leave what I knew behind.
Mandela spoke about the changes he and others had to endure when moving from a familiar place to a place selected for him. I cringed as I thought about my current neighborhood. Earlier residents were segregated here in a what use to be a one hundred percent African American community. The families made due with what they had. They raised families and formed bonds. Today as it has been discovered that where we were placed is the stronger land and now it is desired. On a monthly to weekly basis, I myself am approached about my house. Constant post cards and phone calls claim to want to pay any price to have my home. So let me get this straight, if I “let go” of what I have built from ground up, where will I go? Who will be my community? Does this benefit me? Do you care if it does?
So many times in the reading, I was reminded that minorities are experiencing or have experienced some of the same injustices here in United States. When it is said that history repeats it’s self, there is no doubt that it does. The cultural differences when compared to the African Americans in the U.S. were few. Africans were and still are mistreated in certain communities. Injustice and rights are taken away continuously in different forms. Both writers reflect on a time when they could not vote. These practices reminded me that in the African American community individuals are often reminded during elections that we once did not have the right to vote. This reminder is to encourage them to exercise their privileges. But just as in the reading there continues to be a lack of interest in what the minority communities needs.In some cases, protest have been successful in bringing the attention to the misfortunes of minorities but in the months following, life returns to normal behavior. This behavior discourages the progress and gives a sense of false hope. Individuals begin to act on their memories and tensions remain high.
Forgiveness was also a topic that was shared in both text. Each writer thought it would be best to forgive so that they could move forward. As christians it is apart of Gods will that we continue to adopt this type behavior. Although Mandela did not have a great belief in religion, the turning of the cheek practice was what he adopted once free. This principal said that no matter what is done against you good should be returned. Unfortunately, forgiveness does not always change the psychological effects of the mistreatment that individuals feel.
The psychological effects are what we see when individuals start to forget to forgive. They begin to act on what they feel emotionally. Examples of this behavior includes riots and looting, etc. Because emotions are not so easy to let go, they are acted upon. In the reading some of the village people did not want to hear about forgiveness. Their minds were set on revenge. Mandela disagreed with this behavior and requested forgiveness. After years in prison, torn away from who and what he loved he sought forgiveness. He did not want to return the same treatment that was given to his people. He thought it fair to practice the treatment that he requested.
His practices led me to think about another great leader, Dr. Martin Luther King. Dr. Kings practice was set more in following a “what would Jesus do” perspective as he wanted to turn the other cheek. He wanted to forgive and come together to create a sense if equality. He marched and protested to live free in a land his forefathers helped to establish. When examining all of these great leaders, a song often sang during protest came to mind. The song ” I ain’t got let nobody turn me around” played in the softness of my thoughts. One could only imagine that as they held hands and marched forward that they were say “whatever you do don’t let go”. Don’t let go of your freedom, mind, emotional control, rights, brotherhood, religion or anything else that belonged to you.
In Mandela’s life he also, did not let the imprisonment take away what he had inside of him. He refuse to “let go” of his goal. Mandela did not let go of his strength or mind. He made it a point to read, to write, and to continue learning. He did not “let go” of the thought that he would be free one day, even after being told he would die in such a place. He did not change his mind about what the people needed. No matter what was done to him, whatever they did he did not “let go”. Because of this resilience, because of his fighting spirit he was able to be a change maker among his people. The only way that change can continue is if the individuals continue to fight and whatever they do, never let go.
3 responses to “Whatever you do don’t let go.”
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It is amazing the similarities between these two heroes of freedom whose struggles are also grounded in their faith in Jesus and a God of Justice for all. You mention Dr. King’s practice based on “what would Jesus do” He was able to follow the example of Jesus till his last breath. I like the comparison with Nelson Mandela, Nelson Mandela and the ANC had also stated in the same faith “turning the other cheek” until they realized it was a death sentence not only to individual leaders but also to the dream of freedom from Apartheid in general. When they resolved to take arms and start their military organization Umkhonto we Sizwe (Tip of the Spear) things started to change. It must have been possible in South Africa to take up arms since the blacks formed the majority as opposed to the United States where the blacks were the minority, If Dr. King and his comrades had resolved to form an armed wing and take arms things would have turned probably much more bloody. Unfortunately, Dr. King and many others had to die before realizing the fruits of their zealous and selfless work. Nelson Mandela was blessed to see the results.
I am glad that Dr. King did not take that route. I feel that things were bloody enough. If following the command of God we would all just love one another and there would be no fight.
I say this all the time to my kids. All you have to do is love each other, and love each other well. Be kind, be helpful, and show others. Let kindness win, even though the opposite can sometimes speak louder. In the end its like the fable the tortoise and the hair. Slow and steady will win the race if you stay the course.