“Where is Your Bucket?”

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)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reference:

http://historymatters.gmu.edu/d/39/

Louis R. Harlan, ed., The Booker T. Washington Papers, Vol. 3, (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1974), 583–587.

“A Piece of My Heart They Shall Forever Have”

Many of us have walked through stores and seen employees who live with limitations and must work harder than anyone else in the store to come up to what most of us consider normal or average.

For some people it is a momentary passing and a fleeting thought that appears or some of us think of how good it is that they are working and trying to be part of society and not a burden.  And then there those of us who either know are a family member to them.

For me as a father of a young adult with limitations, not only do I have thoughts into their trials in life, it is my heart that pulls so hard that it could come out of my chest because of the love I have for all of them.

I want to be their knight, their crusader, and their shield.  But there are also times I wish to carry their sword.  These can be one of the toughest times for a Christian when we have to choose between forgiveness and correction for those who forget that people with limitations are not to be discriminated against.  We are our brother’s keeper and must know that for those who cannot always speak for themselves we must.

If it were not an important issue we would not have laws in this country to protect those who are not able to do for themselves the things we take for granted every day.  There is a reason the laws God gave, Moses communicated and Jesus fulfilled were created and they were for the good of all humans, not just for a privileged few.  I believe for us it is a matter of task that we try to take them seriously and not just let bad things happen without somehow enforcing them where possible.  If not the laws, then at least the idea they represent must somehow be presented.

So the next time we see a person with limitations working in the stores we frequent, take a moment, tell them they are appreciated and are doing a great job.  Know that they are always giving their best, just as we should always give them ours.

“Too Easy”

Today I used my favorite response to someone who told me “thank you” for something I did by saying “Too easy”.  My response might sound simple, but in fact it means more to me than just a simple or quick response.

When I say to someone “Too easy” there is actually a meaning behind it that for me is a reminder of how I can help that person or how I can make that person simply smile.  The “Too easy” part may not necessarily be the easy side of this, as a matter of fact sometimes it can be the hard part.  For me the hard part is where I learn the most about what God wants for me and how I can be a better person.

So how about the easily done things you ask?  Well, they are actually easy and are usually the acts that add up over time keeping me in practice for the hard ones.  Now back to the “Too easy” part.

If you happen to be around me and I do something for you and use the response “Too easy” that means that you owe me nothing in return.  I mean that 100%; you do not have to return the favor.  If you do it is because you have intentions of paying something forward, because that is what will happen with it if you do send it my way.

The way I see it is actually pretty simple.  If I do something to help someone it boils down to the one easy step in all of this; deciding to do so.  Deciding to do something good for someone else should be a decision as easy as taking our next breath; not something we ponder, research or debate about.

If I do good, then to me that means I am being obedient  And when God puts it on my heart to do good and I know it is from Him I am even more honored to follow through with the act.  So if you run out of things to say when someone asks you for a favor or help, try saying “Too easy” you might be surprised what it does for the other person and you.

P.S. Thank you Christina for the inspiration today!