I know you have heard this before, and for many of us it’s a constant nagging mantra: “The children are our future.” Shoot, if you’ve never heard a leader or a teacher say these very words, you have at least witnessed the angelic and soulful melody sang by Whitney Houston in The Greatest Love of All. Well if you are tired of hearing your mentors recite these words, and vow to never hear it again in your adult life, I’m here to tell you this. Pardon the interruption of your protest, but our children are our future.
The older I get, the more I realize just how true this declaration is. The statement isn’t something we can hope for or even stop. The fact of the matter is this: whether we raise heathens, model citizens, bastards, good-for-nothings, or CEOs, they will still be our future. Yep, when you are 92 years old and eating your apple sauce while watching Three’s Company on the TV at the senior assisted living home, that heathen your daughter failed to teach about stealing will be running for mayor (or running from the mayor).
Did you realize while you were growing up, one day you would be the future? That you would be the one casting the vote, directing the country, and gearing up the next generation to follow you? I didn’t, but I do now. That’s why the statement has so much more power now when I contemplate on it.
Think back to your school days. Some of us realized we were the future and thus planned who we would be in that future. I remember a Jessica Morris from fifth grade. Every time you saw Jessica in the halls, she was singing something. In class, she was always writing or talking about music. She always knew she would own and control her career. Sure she wanted to be a famous singer. However, today she’s running a successful tax firm in Tennessee. No, she didn’t accomplish the end goal. However, that initial hope pushed her to defy the odds of doing nothing. I wonder who’s responsible for her vision and drive. Whoever it is, that Tennessee community has them to thank for the contributions Jessica is making.
I also remember Kevin Dunbar from tenth grade. He deliberately lived to have the life his uncle possessed. What was that life about? What wasn’t it about! I’m glad you asked! It was running a drug operation in and around a shotgun duplex. A life so fast and apparently deadly that he always thought each day would be his last. For that reason alone, he partied…hard…daily. Like Jessica, Kevin also accomplished his goals. He and Uncle Dunbar shared a cell in a Mississippi State Penitentiary until his uncle died from heart failure. By the time Kevin was sentenced, he had played the leading role in at least ten of his classmates’ parents and three classmates’ addiction to crack cocaine. His sentencing surrounded possession, distribution, assault, and armed robbery. Kevin contributed to his community as well. Both Kevin and Jessica were once two legged sponges easily won over by those who were depended upon to implant loads of honorable values and lifesaving direction.
Parents, teachers, pastors, mentors…whoever you are or are challenged to be; whether our community is a sight of disgrace or the symbol of excellence of the current state exemplifies how we responded to the molding of our “future” — our children.