BY ELISE SAULSBERRY
A Letter to a Dying Generation
TO OUR CHILDREN, WE, YOUR PARENTS AND COMMUNITY, would like to offer you an apology for our apathy and indifference to you. In essence, we apologize for our selfishness. In our plight to provide to you what we never had, we forgot that you only craved our attention, needed our guidance and desired our discipline. Instead of greeting you with a smile in the morning when you woke up or at the door or when you returned home from school, you were met with our frustration – frustrations we harbored from pressing. We had to press in atmospheres where racism, sexism and all types of schisms met us. In our defense, we did it to give you better – all along, not realizing we were assisting the very thing and people who would be catalysts to your demise. We apologize.
We were career-minded and only considered our next level of increase. In the meantime, many of us thought that we had pulled ourselves up by the bootstraps and others in the community (and you) should too. We sold ourselves (while we sold you) to corporations – the same corporations that sold us out when times got hard economically in our communities and in our country. We built these corporations by the sweat of our brows and the ‘neglect’ of our homes. They left us before they ended up where were trying to keep from going again. We apologize.
We forced relationships in an effort to be happy. We exposed you to – in some cases – abuse of all kinds, drugs, loneliness and the list could go on forever. Regardless of how damning the environment was/is, we forgot about our God-given-first responsibility: you. We were youthful, rebellious and irresponsible – we must admit. We apologize.
We allowed you to listen to music that was not beneficial to your young, vulnerable ears, minds and hearts. Our parents restricted us and we were bitter about it – never realizing the harm they protected us from. We listened to others declare that ‘freedom of speech’ was good – and it is, but regardless of its content. Truth is, freedom of speech is beneficial what we should have done was filter the ‘freedom’ that you did not need to hear. Trust is, there are some words that are corruptible to the spirit, mind and ultimately, our community. We acted irresponsibly, but we apologize.
We left discipline you to the education and criminal justice systems: teachers, principals, police, prisons and even our government. We trusted ‘the system’ to educate you not knowing they would not teach you our history even as the world knows it. We left that responsibility to them – it was ours to begin with. Though they were few, some in those systems used you – while they used us as methods of profitability. We had no idea that it would cost you knowledge, your freedom and in some cases, your lives. We apologize.
We subconsciously have used time to gain money and wealth, acquire titles, houses, clothes, cars and all kinds of miscellaneous material things that do not matter… but at your expense. We had no idea that our attempt to gain and give you a life better than what we had would leave you exposed and susceptible to all kinds of dangers. We could not hear your silent cry or see the tears. We were too tired to from becoming too busy getting paid that we had no time to pay attention. The cost has been costly. Some have paid the price with their lives. In this case, that is not a good thing. Yet for our youth who remain to read our words, hear our voices and see our tears of deep regret – We apologize.
In our defense, we did not know that your world would become as it is. In most cases, we were attempting to deal with ghosts that haunted us – some of the same ones that now haunt you. What was struggle for us, prayerfully, is now an open path for you. Do your lives matter? Yes. They do. We cannot undo what has already been done. Now life for us becomes a matter of starting with the here and now – in humility – tearful eyes and with an apologetic heart we enquire of you, your forgiveness. Please accept our apology. We will take it from here…