By Joe Harrison
We are all doing a pretty good job of keeping the spotlight on the scandals and big issues we are facing. What I wanted to do today was to focus on things we don’t notice so much, things that seem relatively small but are actually huge. Things to ponder when you are asking yourself; “What happened to our country? What happened to our society? What happened to us?”
There’s a big difference between civilized people and communities and uncivilized, animalistic people and communities. We, as a society, have become used to rewarding young people who come from inner cities and housing projects for simply doing what other kids do every day. We literally treat them as heroes if they go to school and don’t join gangs. An uncivilized people will use things such as poverty and environment as excuses to rob, rape, loot, use drugs, become alcoholics and worse, all the while claiming that other children are somehow privileged and life comes easy for them. A civilized people, like most of rural America, will use things like poverty and environment as a reason to pull together, they help each other out, they borrow and barter to get by and yes, they actually trust each other.
As far as the privileged rural white kids issue goes, I would like to share a little story with you. I know four kids, one boy and three girls, brother and sisters the boy being the eldest; they live in rural South Georgia. They are privileged enough to be poor, and I mean dirt poor. Their clothes come from thrift stores or are handed down. There are times when just having regular meals is a struggle for their mother and step father, yes, their parents are divorced. They’ve been privileged enough to have a Father who has consistently been in and out of trouble. They’ve been just as likely to have to go visit him looking through a glass at the county jail as they were to visit him at his house. There is no computer in the house because they can’t afford one, and if they could, they could never afford the internet. Doesn’t sound so different from inner city kids right?
Well, here’s where the big difference comes in, with all of this adversity and challenge, all of these kids are consistently on the honor roll, all of them are even in advanced programs. Instead of being raise by a drug using animal of a mother, their mother actually takes an interest in every aspect of their lives. She is very strict as well as very loving. Instead of having a stepfather that beats and abuses them when he is drunk or high, they have a hardworking, caring stepfather. They are being raise by civilized decent people; that is the big difference.
I am kith and kin with these kids so I have the occasional pleasure of enjoying visits from them. Everything I tell them, everything I ask them to do is met with one simple reply…”yes sir”. I take them to historical sites and tell them real stories from history and about their ancestors; they absorb it like a sponge absorbs water. One of the young ladies stands just a little higher than my belt line and on a good day, weighs about as much as my left leg but since my accident, she always holds my forearm as we are walking as if she is going to hold me up if I fall, she doesn’t want me getting hurt again. When she isn’t holding my arm, she is never more than two feet away from me, just in case.
The best thing about these kids is that they’re always, always happy. They’re just glad to be together, glad to see family, glad to be here. Why? Well, because no one has ever told them that they shouldn’t be. They don’t focus on what they don’t have; they are appreciative of what they do have. That’s how their Mother has raised them; my hat is forever off to her for that.
Yes, these are kids that WILL do something with their lives; they will each become something special. Do you think for a minute that anyone will see them as heroes? Will anyone even notice their accomplishments? Of course not, because they are not inner city minority kids. No matter though, they are already heroes to me and my wife, as is their mother. We cherish every moment with them. These are the kind of people who should truly be a source of inspiration to us all.