The gifts we inherit


(—I don’t know what everybody did over the past Labor Day, but it’s my prayer that everyone found themselves secure in the embrace of family, extended family and/or good friends. Each holiday should give us the opportunity to reflect on our connections with each other, and what we mean in each other’s lives. Having been blessed with life from our last Labor Day, we should think about some of the really good people we’ve lost.
Last year, Dick Gregory, a man many of us thought would live forever, left us. His transition made a lot of us begin to think about our time. He left us a lot of wisdom in his writings and recordings. He even advised us to “Wake Up and Stay Woke, but have we listened? Did we begin to make plans for our own transition or do we just plan to leave it up to our families and friends to deal with it? Did we decide to make a difference in what’s going on in our community? Are we actively resisting evil as he did? Are we helping somebody as we go from day to day? Are we bringing back the love we once had for family and friends? Is it fair that we learned so much from Dick, but we do little or nothing to teach others about the love and unity he taught us?
Aretha Franklin just made her transition. While we won’t be seeing her in live concerts anymore, she left a lot of beautiful music for us to listen to and enjoy for generations. How will we show others the same kind of love and joy she brought into our lives with her music? We never heard her say an unkind word. From her work, she earned the title “Queen of Soul.”
Representative Ron Dellums recently made his transition. He was a true warrior for justice. Some called him a radical. His response to that was “If being an advocate of peace, justice and humanity toward all human beings is radical, then I’m glad to be called radical.” He was known for putting our rights as human beings ahead of waging war and spending so freely on weapons of war. He stood up for working people, women, and Africa. He had a talent for bringing people together—a talent so needed today.
Each of the three people mentioned touched our lives in very special ways, but are we making the most of what they taught us? How do we do that? We can decide to be the strongest person we know how to be. We can speak up for others when they cannot speak for themselves. We can resist evil wherever we find it. We can refuse to allow our fears to keep us from standing for justice for all, including our own community, our Hispanic, Muslim, LGBTQ brothers and sisters, as well as those who’re unemployed, have disabilities, etc. Most of us are blessed in some way, and should do what we can to be a blessing to others.
In the Biblical parable of the talents, we’re told of the master leaving his house to travel. Before leaving he entrusted his property to his servants. One received 5 talents, the second received 2, the third received 1. Upon his return, the master asked for an accounting of the talents he entrusted to them. The first and second doubled the value of the property left to them. The third merely buried his and was punished. If we learned nothing else from the movie “Black Panther,” let’s never forget that we have the responsibility to cherish and honor the gifts left by those who precede us.
(Dr. E. Faye Williams is president of the National Congress of Black Women.)
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