Maturity

Sometimes I think our country should have it more together. Then, I remind myself that we’re not that far removed from the 1965 Selma march, or the peak of the KKK in the mid-1920s, or even the end of the Civil War in 1865. When a society digs a deep hole like slavery, it takes awhile to climb out.

Sometimes I think I should have it more together. By age 70, I expected to be wise, mature, and brimming with self-actualization. I now know that Charlie Brown and Lucy were adults, not kids. I remind myself that I’m not that far removed from young adulthood, adolescence or even childhood.

I think I’m beginning to see what maturity might be like. I believe that maturity is, in part, moving beyond monolithic, dualistic, us-versus-them attitudes. John Lewis was more mature at 20 than I am at 70. That’s my key takeaway after the first four chapters of Jon Meacham’s latest book. It was sobering.

Reading about Lewis has given me hope that one day former peace officer Derek Chauvin and George Floyd’s family will work together–and inspire others to work together–for healing, reconciliation and justice. After Lewis was beat up at the Rock Hill, South Carolina bus station in 1961:

Lewis struggled to his feet, “woozy and feeling stabs of sharp pain above both eyes and in my ribs. My lower lip was bleeding pretty heavily.” He … declined to press charges. “We’re not here to cause trouble,” Lewis told the police. “We’re here so that people will love each other.” … “No child is born in hate,” Lewis recalled. “All children are born in hope, love, and innocence. It is a troubled world that teaches these vicious values.” …

Lewis needed a doctor, but he refused to leave the station before having a cup of coffee in the now integrated cafe.

From “What South Africa can teach the US about racial justice and reconciliation,” The World by Public Radio International, June 11, 2020

2 thoughts on “Maturity”

  1. Ted, thank you for this word today. I am struggling though Wilkerson’s “Caste,” an utter condemnation of a nation and its racism. It is so horrific in its contents I am not sure I will be able to finish it. I keep waiting for signs of hope going forward. Midway through the book there are none.

    But, then I read your post this morning. The power of the incident you included and Lewis’ response illustrate Lewis’ immense character and lay before us the way forward, difficult though it may be. What an incredible loss his death was for all of us! I needed that ray of hope today to rescue me from the despair of Wilkerson’s book. Thank you!

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    1. Thank you for sharing your reflections, Ernie. We need each other to remind us of the power of hope–as Meacham does with his sub-title. Was it Scott D. who said, “We don’t have the luxury of despair!”? And it was Walter Brueggemann who said the OT prophets proclaimed their message of hope “in spite of the data.”

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