When we let our light shine, it inspires others to hope and dream of their own ability to break out of obscurity. When we persevere and overcome, it gives others hope that they also can get the victory. When we scour our soul for answers and strength when the outside world is offering no hope, and find a way, we testify that there is something transcendent in humanity that defies math and science. The true stories which reflect these human virtues belong to the entire human race as they reflect the potential for good in all people. In a world where fear and dread are used to control and exploit people, all stories of triumph over wicked and inhumane forces are worth being retold and retold again. I read this quote today which comes from “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.”
“Nothing has a greater, longer, lasting impression upon another than the awareness that someone has transcended suffering, has transcended circumstance, and is embodying and expressing a value that inspires and ennobles and lifts life.”
If you should find that you or your ancestors have been on the wrong side of history, you have an opportunity to reflect one of mankind’s most beautiful attributes, which is the ability to learn and make the necessary change to improve. To learn from mistakes, you have to process them and identify the faulty thinking. Instead of just covering up mistakes from the past, you should give them a proper burial with a lessons learned epitaph.
To live in this way, you must first have values that esteem the good of all above the benefit of just a few. To put value in change which benefits all, you must first accept that there is one humanity with a shared life. The way humans live in any part of the earth is a reflection of humanity as a whole on the earth. After we realize our connectedness, then we can begin to love our neighbors as ourselves. The vision of selfishness is too narrow to bring the good of all into perspective.
The story of Black history is part of the story of human history and the lessons to be learned from it benefits all. You can’t truly celebrate a triumph without detailing the true narrative of all the obstacles and challenges which had to be overcome. You can’t fully appreciate Frederick Douglass as an author and orator and abolitionist until you understand he was himself enslaved and learned to read and write under threat of harm or even death. It is not so much about shaming his oppressors than it is about his witness of the fire of life which burns inside every human which needs the breath of freedom. A fire which bears light that can be cultivated to repel the darkness which threatens all humans. We must all endeavor to live in the greater story of all humanity and be a people that share our breath to strengthen the fire burning in others, rather than succumbing to the divisive influences of the greedy and murderous. The greatest vulnerabilities of humanity are ignorance and pride, so we all need to be humble and learn the lessons of history before the sins of our ancestors recapture us.