This isn’t going to be the best organized, well-worded, perfectly punctuated post I’ve ever written. But I’ve got to get this stuff down and out before I forget about it. Or rather, before its raw sharpness loosens its hold on my soul. Sounds serious, huh? It is.
Friday morning I was up and out on the back porch before dawn. I wanted to read a little something on my Kindle and tweak a family history on my Mac. I settled into my wicker chair and said a silent prayer of thanks for my multitudinous blessings, including our home, the morning sounds, and the fact that I didn’t have to leave for work at 6:50 like I had for decades. I sent up some thoughts of gratitude for my children and grandchildren too. Then I got a little “gimme” attitude and asked for some things.
There’s no need to share all the private thoughts and requests I shared with my Creator. You’d likely either get bored or think that’s so sappy. The gist of the request was for guidance, inspiration, and protection for all my young loves. And then, I felt impressed to ask for one more thing: strength for my grandchildren in dealing with any sorts of unkind words or deeds that might befall them. I know kids get pushed and shoved and teased.
The occurrence of some kind of bullying is inevitable in our society. But can’t a grandmother ask for help in dealing with it? When I say “our society,” I don’t mean to imply that Americans have a premium on it. I’m pretty sure it’s worldwide. It’s just that in recent years, the ways to bully have multiplied.
Driving to Myrtle Beach a few hours later, I listened to a couple of podcasts, one of which was “Stuff you Missed In History Class.” The episode was about Emmett Till, a fourteen-year-old black teen who was brutally beaten and killed for supposedly “wolf whistling” at a white woman in a grocery store. At first the woman said Emmett touched her; later she said she had lied. It’s too bad for Emmett that “later” was long after his horrific death.*
Two days after the alleged incident, Carolyn Bryant’s husband and another man kidnapped Emmett from his uncle and aunt’s home. They and others (unnamed) beat the boy unmercifully before shooting him in the head. I hope he died early in the process, long before they broke his pelvis. They then wound barbed wire around his neck and tied him to something heavy (a gin of some type) and tossed him in a river.
Emmett’s mother fought to have her son’s bloated and mutilated body brought home to Chicago for burial. His open coffin was covered with a glass shield, and many historians believe that his funeral focused attention on racism and gave the Civil Rights Movement a kick-start. Rosa Parks was reportedly thinking of him when, days after his death, she found the courage to keep her seat on the bus.
I could bring this to a close by writing about man’s inhumanity to man, racism, cruelty, injustice, and evil, but I won’t. Instead, I’ll just say that while fear is fear, my fears for my young loves are more about taunts and teasing. Juxtaposed to Emmett’s mother’s ever-present anxiety about the safety of her son, mine is more of a floating thing. My fears are paltry beside Emmett’s mother. So is my strength in dealing with tragedy.
I’m still too unsettled and distraught over this sixty-two year old incident to even articulate my main point unless the point is love. If you and I prayed for other children in addition to our own precious ones, that’d be a start. Yes, love is the word. Love and care and compassion for all the children in the world.
*The podcast above mentioned a book by Timothy Tyson, The Blood of Emmett Till. I want to read it…and probably will. But not today, not even this week. I’m still reeling from the injustice that occurred August 28, 1955.