The title of this piece is taken straight from the 1970 song by the late, great Marvin Gaye. I can in no way stake claim to it. For those of you who are familiar with the lyrics, Marvin goes through a litany of social ills being experienced by the world at the time: too many mothers crying, too many brothers dying, picket lines, picket signs, young people being judged for having long hair, punishment being brutally meted out, no communication to find common ground for reasoning…
To those of us who have open ears and eye, the ancient scriptural saying of there’s nothing new under the sun is brought home, if we live beyond 40. History teaches us that we rarely learn the lessons life places directly in our path. Whenever I listen to Marvin Gaye’s song it’s as if all the pain, confusion and social dysfunction of that time is being recycled. Or maybe I’m not taking a broad enough view of things. Maybe things have improved just this side of enough. What do you think?
I’ve witnessed a lot of suffering in my lifetime, too much of it caused by hatred of others, insensitivity to the needs of others, and just downright ignorance of who the person is who’s been before you for years. Oftentimes, we want from others what we’re too afraid to give: a smile, a few minutes of dedicated listening, a moment when the person you’re perfunctorily socializing with can truly feel that you see them. When you see someone, you’ve intentionally allowed each word, each communicative movement they exhibit to paint a picture of who they are, who they want you to perceive about them. As I tap my keyboard, I must confess that I’m a long way from being good at what I’m talking about, most of us are guilty as sin in this area. However, are we supposed to reach a point of perfection at this stuff? Isn’t it supposed to be a process marked by mile markers of improvement along life’s journey? After all, we can’t take a one-size, one-model approach to dealing with our human counterparts. Right?
When we see someone, we connect with them and we realize they are mothers, fathers siblings and that they bleed, as do we. These folks who serve familial roles, also serve in sundry roles, view the world through various lenses, heck they even brush their teeth differently. Given that diversity, shouldn’t each of us grant each of them, when we come in contact, the amount of dignity and respect we would demand for ourselves?
How does this headline grab you: Swimming caps for natural black hair ruled out of Olympic Games? Yeah, I know this probably doesn’t rise to the level of contention Marvin was singing about in his song, but something tells me that a lot of time and energy is going to spent on this decision. I don’t know why, exactly, the Olympic officials decided to ban swim caps that are made specifically for black hair; however, consider this: the Spedo50 caps traditionally worn were designed for white swimmers to keep their hair from flowing into their face while swimming (Dannielle Obe, founding member of the Black Swimming Association). Some Black swimmers hair grows up and out, requiring a differently designed cap to prevent it from interfering with the aerodynamics of moving through the water in the most efficient manner.
Fifty years after Marvin’s classic song, we still spend too much time on issues that will never build us up.
I’m old and blessed…hope you will be too.