In my response to those of any political party or any affiliation to a group or groups who desperately oppose one another after our much disputed Presidential Election, I would offer the words of Booker T. Washington’s Atlanta Compromise Speech given in 1895 on September 18th.
His words were directed primarily at newly freed African American Slaves and the South which in some part included the white population, but in my opinion he was speaking to the America as a whole. The country had just gone through a devastating Civil War and healing was needed in every corner of the nation, regardless of the color of one’s skin.
Our faith in God will and should always be the most important aspect of who we are as a people, but more importantly we should also try to understand that we may not always be able to control the people or circumstances around us. However, what we can control are those things we are responsible for as citizens of a community. The healing takes place in the smallest of them and begins with the hard work that is ours to do, a helping hand and a smile.
Mr. Washington was telling us then to put our differences aside and simply work together for the greater good, thereby, improving our own station in life. He never promised easy, nor has God for that matter when it comes to what He has called us to do for His Kingdom. So I will leave you with the story and some words from Booker T. Washington that I hope will bring things into some sort of perspective for you if you are struggling to move on, forgive, befriend or simply get back to some sort of normal in your life.
“A ship lost at sea for many days suddenly sighted a friendly vessel. From the mast of the unfortunate vessel was seen a signal, “Water, water; we die of thirst!” The answer from the friendly vessel at once came back, “Cast down your bucket where you are.” A second time the signal, “Water, water; send us water!” ran up from the distressed vessel, and was answered, “Cast down your bucket where you are.” And a third and fourth signal for water was answered, “Cast down your bucket where you are.” The captain of the distressed vessel, at last heeding the injunction, cast down his bucket, and it came up full of fresh, sparkling water from the mouth of the Amazon River. To those of my race who depend on bettering their condition in a foreign land or who underestimate the importance of cultivating friendly relations with the Southern white man, who is their next-door neighbor, I would say: “Cast down your bucket where you are”— cast it down in making friends in every manly way of the people of all races by whom we are surrounded.
Cast it down in agriculture, mechanics, in commerce, in domestic service, and in the professions. And in this connection it is well to bear in mind that whatever other sins the South may be called to bear, when it comes to business, pure and simple, it is in the South that the Negro is given a man’s chance in the commercial world, and in nothing is this Exposition more eloquent than in emphasizing this chance. Our greatest danger is that in the great leap from slavery to freedom we may overlook the fact that the masses of us are to live by the productions of our hands, and fail to keep in mind that we shall prosper in proportion as we learn to dignify and glorify common labour, and put brains and skill into the common occupations of life; shall prosper in proportion as we learn to draw the line between the superficial and the substantial, the ornamental gewgaws of life and the useful. No race can prosper till it learns that there is as much dignity in tilling a field as in writing a poem. It is at the bottom of life we must begin, and not at the top. Nor should we permit our grievances to overshadow our opportunities.” (Harlen, 1974)
Louis R. Harlan, ed., The Booker T. Washington Papers, Vol. 3, (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1974), 583–587.