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First of all, I have to say that the resilience of New Orleans amazes me. Of course when I say the resilience of New Orleans, I mean it’s people – they came through hell on earth, and they’re not accepting anything less from life than they did before. I love fighters and that’s exactly what they are! Blacks, whites, and colorful combinations of the two – they’re all survivors and it warms my heart to see their community healing.
A recent column by Leonard Pitts, Jr. (a writer syndicated on Editorial pages across the nation, and one of few that I read religiously) addressed the optimism of blacks. I normally hate anything that comes with color guides, but in this case it was totally relevant. He brought up all that his race has overcome throughout history, and you could hear – rightfully so – the pride in his voice.
I think that a great deal of the optimism within the black community has to do with faith. After Hurricane Katrina I pretty much lived on the CNN television channel and website, following our fellow Americans plight and hoping and praying for more survivors and miracles. As they talked to so many of the black survivors, I was struck by their beautiful faith in God. I think that’s why many stayed in the first place – they were living by faith and left it in God’s hands, come what may.
As a history buff, American History is my favorite area to study and the Civil War era is just about as fascinating as it gets. Something that always amazes me is the fact that slaves would sing praises to God as they worked in the fields, in the kitchens, or as they walked to and from one destination to the next. With the suffering they endured, one would expect bitterness and hardness – but they didn’t have time for any of that, they were too busy singing gospel songs, teaching themselves to read with the Bible, and praying for deliverance.
A lot of people, from the Egyptians in the wilderness to the Native Americans and their Trail of Tears, and from the Pilgrims to the Jews have endured hardships, cruelty and their own versions of hell on earth. But each endured and overcame, with optimism and faith. Granted their faith was directed in different directions and was displayed in different ways, but it, alongside optimism, was the common thread that stitched together their survival. They also stitch together survival for millions of people each day – people who struggling and suffering with their own demons – whether they’re battling poverty, cancer, addictions, heart disease, the loss of loved ones, or other cruelties of life. Without optimism, faith and determination the sufferer would be overcome rather than overcome. Overcome is a beautiful word when used as a verb – but a disasterous one when used as an adjective.
Mr. Pitts, Jr. had a passage in his column that I marked with my purple pen of destiny – it’s a marker I keep nearby at all times to blanket the most memorable, fascinating things I come across while reading. It serves as a reminder for me to cut that article out or at least write down the words I’ve circled. It also serves as a pat on the back to the writer for touching my heart and rousing my thoughts.
I’ll let his words close out the post – they need no follow up:
“…if you wonder how optimism can flourish the most among those who have the least, well, maybe when you’ve been weaned on hardship, hardship doesn’t impress you. You do what you’ve got to do, suffer what you’ve got to suffer, to get where you’ve got to get. And after you do, you realize how much of the journey was owed to simple, stubborn guts.” – Leonard Pitts, Jr. – Miami Herald
Make each moment count double,