I worry about my son

I worry about my son, should he ever go to Florida or any place where someone may misunderstand what he is doing and kill him. I worry about my son, to even bring him into this world where we are still so torn up about subjects of race and personal appearance.

I worry about my son, who may yet not be able to act in the same way as his friends and neighbors without putting his own life at greater risk. I worry about my son, for in my hope to bring about a family that crosses racial divides he may not yet find his way to adulthood and to the fulfillment of his dreams.

Let me tell you this, I do not currently have a son or any child. However, it has been my hope to be a father and to share with that child the same love I have found from my God, my family and my community.

Nevertheless, when children are followed and killed for looking suspicious I worry about how suspicious my child may look when he walks down the street at night. I worry about my own inability to explain to him what it means to be a man with dark skin since my own skin is so light.

No one, no child nor adult, should have to act differently because of the color of his or her skin. No one should have someone with a gun following him or her down the street after stopping by the store for a snack.

I have been so pleased, for the most part, of how society has accepted my marriage to a bi-racial woman. I had been thinking that the U.S. society has come so far in countering racism.

Unfortunately, it only takes one incident to remind us that there is much further to go before we will truly know that “there is neither Jew nor Greek; there is neither slave nor free” (Galatians 3:28).

I want my child to live. I want him to enjoy life. And, I want him to feel free to walk home alone from the store so that he, too, may grow up one day to experience the hope and joy of fatherhood.

 

MLK's dream may take awhile.

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Trusting God with Few in Battle

My wife and I today read a devotion about King Amaziah dismissing a bunch of soldiers just after he paid them to go out into war. The dismissal came right before the first battle began. A prophet had come to Amaziah and told him to trust in the Lord. God will return to the king and his nation much more than the cost of the soldiers he did not use in battle (2 Chronicles 25:5-9).

Senior airman is hugged by his mother upon his return home during 2007 after six months service in Iraq (U.S. Air Force photo / Maj. Robert Couse-Baker).

Trusting in God is a common theme in Scripture, and this is not the first time it was encouraged at the time of a battle. God instructed Gideon, years before Amaziah, to also reduce the number of his troops before fighting an enemy. Gideon’s army became so small that no one could believe that it could be ascribed to a human victory (Judges 7:2-8). Only God could win such a battle with only a few hundred soldiers. Large numbers is not always essential.

Recently, President Obama announced the end of combat operations in Iraq. It is not my place to say whether this is the will of God. However, I do believe the removal of combat troops will help in bringing about an end to the warring we have had for this past decade and longer.

To win this battle we need not oppose construction of mosques or Islamic community centers. To win this battle we need not burn Qur’ans. Instead, we need to help rebuild the infrastructure of towns and neighborhoods devastated by our fight against Saddam Hussein in Iraq and the Taliban and al-Qaida in Afghanistan. Large numbers of soldiers are not necessary. Rather a few skilled in the work of nation building are what is needed.

We still need to pay the soldiers who enlisted and have fought to date. They too are in need of assistance as they return home often broken from traumatic brain injuries or post traumatic stress disorder. The value of spending money to heal our soldiers will repay itself in the usefulness these veterans will return to their families and communities. We must not forget their contribution even as we cut back the numbers on active duty overseas.

End Gun Violence, Save a Friend

I have friends who are writing a study about gun violence, but more importantly I had a friend who was killed by a stray bullet. Bayette and I did not have the best of friendships, though the loss of his life has affected me more than the loss of anyone else that I have known.

For four years we went to the same elementary school just outside of Detroit. Bayette was constantly trying to be a part of the in-crowd. I, on the other hand, didn’t care about popularity. So, in his attempts to look better in others’ eyes, Bayette would often tease me. It continued on until one day he got mad at me and threw a punch to my gut. My return hit was even harder. That day we were sent home from school.

Now, you may be wondering why I say we were friends. The teasing only happened at school. Outside of school we would spend time together. Our families were friends, whereas they knew each other through the church. Soon after I signed up for karate lessons, Bayette joined me. Our parents would take turns driving us to and from the lessons.

I also got to see another side of Bayette. He really was a smart guy. Our school district had a special program for gifted kids. Both of us were in it. In those classes, Bayette learned that intellectual and creative gifts were more valuable than popularity. I saw how this program really challenged how he interacted with school.

Unfortunately I moved away right after sixth grade. I never saw him again following our last summer day together enjoying ice cream sundaes. About ten years later, I learned of his death two years previous. He was inside a house when a bullet came through the walls and killed him.

Bayette was looking forward to a bright future. He had become the intelligent young man that so many teachers, friends and relatives had held out hope for. However, his life was ended. I would not again see this old friend who once tormented me, but had since transformed. It pains me that we cannot spend one more day together to remember our childhood and laugh at how crazy it all was. I wish I could have known that young man he had become and that his family and fellow church members speak highly about.

Please, I ask, let’s end gun violence. Let us make it harder for weapons designed to kill humans to get on the street outside of our well-regulated militia. I don’t want more people to feel the pain of losing a friend that I still feel to this day.