Oh, how I long for days when the living was easy and the cost of living was generally how you were raised, and where grits and grocery were appreciated more! It didn’t take me all of three scores to bring me to realization that I truly miss those old times…times when (dis)obedience was the sum of the parts that determined the consequences of right and wrong. You will probably remember too, how certain things will always be etched in your mind, and you may remember how you used to do things, how things were packaged and delivered to the social fabric that allowed ties to bind, as you’d find yourself comparing then to now. The old adage that ‘time waits for no man’ shouldn’t be understated, and can be best attributed to how we look at change and what is affected by it. Look no further than what you see around you, whether you venture outside of your power structure or stay within the boundaries of your inner being, the way things used to be is no more! Believe that! Nowadays communities far and wide are hard-pressed to maintain and find nostalgic value that once identified pride and privilege just to be associated with a sense of belonging. Seemingly, gone are the days when morals and ethics were instilled as part of familial mindset, complete with the discipline needed to augment right from wrong and applicable procedures to train up that child right. I can surely attest to those lost valuables while penning my upcoming book, ‘Righteous Apples and Other Spiritual Gems’ recalling what should be part of remembering when the simple things in life really meant something. It’s the precious homilies that I allude to in it that always brings me back to know how much I miss simplicity and quality living standards as I search for that village that raised me.
Many cities across the nation begat the origins of Black life near and around railroad tracks adjoining the spic and span of downtown locales, where whole generations jockeyed for position, and staked out livelihoods that colored canvases using hues that are exemplified earlier in this essay. Know that the generation you’re living in as you read this essay is nothing like what you experienced if you’re a Baby Boomer like me. A baby boomer is a person who was born during the demographic Post-World War II baby boom era, and the term itself is sometimes used in a cultural context. However, I’m using it here to illustrate differences and drawing parallel to changes that occurred back in the day as opposed to what’s happening now. In general though, baby boomers are usually associated with a rejection or redefinition of traditional values. So much so that many people have disputed the extent of that rejection, noting the widespread continuity of values with older and younger generations are varied and are allowing changes to truly broaden new sensibilities and other acquired habits to institutionalize a way of life. My, how times have changed! And it is that specific quality of life that I harken back to that has me reminiscing and longing for this generation to snap out of it.
Where is that village that raised me? Can I borrow the chinaberry bush switch that I had to clear the leaves off of so that my whipping would be complete…or perhaps turn back the hands of time, snatch some of what Big Mama preached, and give it to today’s youngsters? What is it that has parenting taking a back seat to taking control of their households? Back in the day there was a strong sense of togetherness in our society. The streets weren’t mean and malicious ready to swallow you up with every wrong turn you took. There were no hard-scale robberies, and petty theft were no more ‘grand‘ than taking money out of our mama’s pocketbook (which surely made you stand front and center with that chinaberry switch!). We looked out for each other and respected the elderly. You didn’t dare let Miss Sally (who always sat on the porch with good vantage points and saw EVERYTHING) catch you doing anything out of the way. If word got back to mama and daddy you HAD to confess, even if it wasn’t the way it actually happened ‘lest you ran the risk of calling Miss Sally a liar. Along with that, it would be unforgivable for someone of any age to walk in front of someone’s house, and if they were sitting out front (like Miss Sally always did), and you not wave and ask how they were doing. Moreover, you did not pass anyone on the street without speaking, especially if it was an elder…and if you were addressed by them you were expected to respond by saying ‘yes ma’am and no sir’ . Every responsible adult had the right, and were expected to chastise you and you knew when you got home you had another one coming! Everybody helped everybody, no one went hungry and we weren’t poor by any stretch of the imagination.
My heart is heavy and my mind hurts just observing what I see in today’s society. You have babies raising babies where girls are getting pregnant at such early ages. There are no more ‘Big Mama’s. They are all in the clubs, quite a bit of them in the 35-40 age range. There seems to be more one-parent households where the fathers have all but disappeared. Mothers are raising boys in matriarchal families and girls are not being taught the ways of men by their daddies. Social mores have eradicated with the softening and graying of gender awareness. It is the bi-curious nature that have homosexual tendencies running rampart, complete with androgynous personas with females especially wanting to be, and adhering to male dominances. I remember being taught to respect females and the attributes of chivalry. I felt for my sister and the sisters of my friends if and when they got out of line wanting to be more than what was taught that a respectable girl should embody. I know for a fact that girls back then were much harder to get than the ones I see in this generation! Church took on a life of its own. There was no such thing as you not going to church…not only did you go, but you were expected to be an active part of it, not like today where you see young folk leaving it in droves. Teens and young adults are not staying put to differ between being religious as opposed to embracing spirituality to perfect that quality of living I spoke of earlier. We had a few pimps, mind you…and prostitution wasn’t hidden, but today the new-fangled pimps are bold beyond measure — you have them ascending pulpits! They’re continually leading God’s people astray with false prophetic views, albeit while proving that church is big business worthy of having a megachurch mentality.
Yes, I’m in search of that village that raised me. I want prayer and discipline back in the public school systems; I pray that every Black man change their selfish ways searching their souls and be accountable for loving their wives, embracing their children and bolstering their communities. I need for more women to stop taking the flak that men come up with just to get what they want…in other words ladies, close the candy shop and let them earn the goodies like my father and his father before him did. There are several other things that I’d like to see the village of today incorporate into their lives: I want our communities to stop being disenfranchised and exploited by people of other persuasions that don’t respect us. I want us to form more meaningful coalitions, love each other more, and learn how to better play the 21-century game of social responsibility and be ‘game changers’. That of advancing to the next level of personal and professional success, unleashing the greatness that lies within. Meanwhile, I will continue to search for my ‘village’ and teach those willing to listen!