Just going through my luggage, clearing out some things to make way for enlightenment
Thursday, August 24, 2006The Sins of the Fathers
"... He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations."
Back when I was a fresh, ink still wet on the degree, college graduate. I had the opportunity to substitute teach at the very middle school in which I served time. It was a sobering experience. For one, I was really able to see that EVERYONE was struggling. It wasn't all about me (which is something I still have problems with from time to time). It was also a bit unnerving because I was teaching children of people I knew in my youth. In some cases I knew things about those kid's parents that I hope are never revealed to them. What was unnerving to me also proved a great asset because once some of these kids realized I knew their parents, they were angels.
One day after after work was done and we had about 15 minutes before the bell, a small group (maybe 5) of sixth graders started talking about their parents. I'm not sure what prompted the discussion. It wasn't me. One little girl (I'll call her Tasha) shared that her father was "locked down." One of the boys in the group (Jerome) began laughing and making fun of the little girl. Since he was one of those kids whose parents I knew something about, I asked where was his father.
I vaguely recalled that his dad had gotten into some trouble, which didn't mean I didnn't remember him to be a nice person. And that is where I pulled the topic of my sermonette.
I began by telling them that the actions of their parents should have little bearing on them. An incarcerated parent is certainly no reflection and the child should not be ridiculed for it. I went on to tell them that not everyone was in jail for an offense they had committed. Some folks were unlucky enough to have been caught in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong people. I reminded them that their parents were human and may have done things of which they were not proud and that mom and dad may share those things with them one day. I did tell them if they needed to know right away they should asked their grandparents, who were probably still mad about some stuff. However, the crux of my message was that they must not let who and what their parents were determine who they become.
Both Tasha and Jerome are juniors in college.
That all came back to me after reading an obituary for Jerome's 30 year old cousin in the online edition of my hometown newspaper. I can't recall ever having met the young man, but I recognized the name of his father as the community weed man of another era. I surmised that he had gone into the family business after a call to my sister revealed he was gunned down in a neighborhood bar. It seems someone owed him money and everytime he saw the person he would offer a beat down as incentive to get it. Someone got tired of a beat down.
I really wish Jerome's cousin could have heard my sermonette.