This is Aleksei Belikh, a nationally recognized Russian painter, with whom I have a close friendship. The Russian Golden Autumn is behind him. I believe that the key issues of our 21st century are to see other people, all others, as fellow human beings and to save our home, our planet, from further pollution, so we can all continue to live here and thrive.
In celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday, I post this essay by a new friend, Gary T. Tyson. We can all take in this message and do better at taking care of each other and our planet.
A Warrior Spirit
By Gary T. Tyson, Sanford, NC
A few days ago, I attended a game that my 7th grader was playing basketball in. She had taken a hard foul and had rolled her ankle. She limped off to the sidelines. I could tell she was about to cry. As the principal was going to get her some ice, I walked down to the court where she had propped her foot up on a chair. She had tears in her eyes, and I searched for the right words to say to her. I simply stated, “Baby, you got to be a warrior. Don’t let your opponents see you cry.” Those two statements caused her to reach down deep and pull herself back together. You see, even at her tender age, she understood that warrior spirit.
I want to speak briefly about a warrior spirit that each of us has in us. First of all, what is a warrior spirit? Webster’s Dictionary defines a “Warrior” as “A person engaged in some struggle or conflict.” As I think back to some past warriors of our day, the great Martin Luther King, Jr. comes to my mind. I read about when he was getting ready to disobey a state injunction that Birmingham, Alabama, had erected to stop their marching. He was very troubled. He knew that the way the injunction read, if he or anyone else violated the injunction, the law said they could be held indefinitely. This troubled Martin because he knew that a long prison term for him could cause the Civil Rights Movement to buckle to its knees. I imagine, as he was filled with doubt and confusion, he thought about “The Parable of the Good Samaritan,” that man who helped the man on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho. I believe he asked himself : not “How long will I have to stay in jail?” but “What will happen to my people if I give up and let this injunction turn us around?” That warrior spirit kicked in, and he put on his work uniform (khaki shirt and khaki pants) and told his closest confidants, “Let’s go march.”
Today, my friends, this type of spirit is one that we must have. President Obama is leading the charge to try to level the playing field. But any time you try to level the playing field, the folks who benefitted from the uneven playing field are going to fight tooth and nail to keep that from happening. Many of these folks are the folks who employ people. I believe, over the next few years, we are going to see less jobs being created because many of these folks would rather go out of business than share a real piece of the pie of opportunity and treasure. Many of these folks who have benefitted from this unlevel playing field are in the Halls of Congress and the Chambers of the Senate. So, in many ways, the President can only do so much to level the playing field. It’s going to take a concerted effort of the voters to vote in the leaders who have our best interests at heart.
I had the opportunity to speak recently to a local ex-professional boxer. I asked him what it takes to be a warrior. He said that he respects a man who fights even if he loses. He said he doesn’t respect a fighter who grows feathers and runs. He stated a warrior never, ever gives up. He said a warrior has got to be determined to fight one more round even if he gets hurt. He stated that a warrior will fight to the end and never retreat and never surrender.
My friends, this is a warrior spirit. I believe this warrior spirit has got to be a part of our charge forward. We must charge forward with the feverish determination that we will not, we cannot be, turned around. We must tell our enemy, “You can’t hate us back to the days when we accepted inferiority. You can’t hate us back to days when we went to the back of the bus.” Yes, we still have that warrior spirit that entered the veins of many African Americans over 50 years ago. Yes, today we still stand here, gladiators for justice.
But where do we go from here? Do we still have that “HOPE” that our President so eloquently spoke about in 2008? Do we still believe in the “CHANGE” that we were so greatly anticipating in 2008? I believe the answer to this most timely question has no immediate, clear answer. But I do believe we need to take a look at what we are hoping for and what change we are looking for.
I read an article by a young black sister recently that spoke about dreaming. She stated she was tired of dreaming. She stated it was time to wake up. She stated we dream on our backs, eyes shut to the world. She stated dreams carry us away, but when we wake up from the dream, we’re right back in the same spot where we lay down. I concur that it’s time to stop dreaming and start executing a well-thought-out plan of action.
Dreams are kind of like hope. Both are non-aggressive in their very nature. The true warrior spirit has dreams and hope running through its veins. But along with that, a warrior spirit has an acute need to take action. A warrior spirit doesn’t believe in waking up from a dream and continuing to lie there.