So, now what?

25 Jun


So, now what?

By L. Stewart Marsden


Flags of the Confederate States of America are coming down at state buildings. Statues of supporters of racism are being removed. Ads featuring top celebrities are aired with the message of no more. Twitter and Facebook and every other talk show host, news team and entertainment program are vocalizing a massive disgust of the shooting in Charleston earlier this month.

Wait and see. How long will it take until the dialogue and opinions and special programs finally die down and we return to the status quo?

Three months? Longer?

Yet deep inside each of us fears that once again some seriously rattled person is going to do something to make headlines. Perhaps those plans are being made now. Maybe the plans are in conjunction with outside resources — radical groups that seem to get their kicks by disrupting life. Maybe another movie theater. Maybe at a mall. Maybe some athletic event.

Two questions.

How do we prevent the next horrendous plan from occurring? How do we deal effectively with the elements that fuel the chronic violence in our country? Specifically, how do we treat racism and the racial divide for the insidious malady it is; and how do we better control weaponry that has grown to be the vehicle of daily manslaughter?

The “Demand a Plan” anti-gun ad that features many celebrities was good as ads go, I thought. And then I began to wonder which of the very famous participants will end up becoming a part of a larger effort to demand change, and not wait for the gears of politics to grind.

I wondered what can I do here in my own community? Why wait for an invitation to get involved? Isn’t that what we’ve been doing for the last several decades? The majority of us, I mean. You. Me. Those people over there. Have we gotten to the point that we expect everyone else to get involved and then tell us what to do?

“Who will help me plow the land?” asked the Little Red Hen of the other farm animals.

Years ago … decades, actually … I attended an organizational rally at a church in my hometown. It is in the south, and based predominantly on manufacturing. It was the world-wide center of furniture and textile production. It was 1970 or thereabouts. Organizers were making plans for the March on Washington. A class peer, the daughter of a minister, was among the head organizers. We were going to be a part of a huge demonstration in order to promote peace among blacks and whites. I thought that was ironic at the time, as in our middle-sized town peace hardly existed between the two colors. And I stood and said so.

Decades ago.

I don’t think it has changed much since that time. We seem to want to depend on elected officials off in Washington rather than pick up the sticks and stones out of our own local fields.

“Who will help me plow the land?”

I’m getting to be an old fart. I’ve got many other things that seem very important to me that I could spend most of my time on. I’ve got my children and grandchildren whom I need, and who need me. Other things to do. Other things to focus on.

“Who will help me plow the land?”

Plus, plowing the land is tough work. The plow is heavy. The blade is dull. And the ground is packed and hard, and filled with stones and sticks.

But therein is the challenge. Leave it to Washington? Or in my case, Raleigh? I’m just one person, and I’m an old fart, too. Just what the hell can I do about these overwhelming problems? Isn’t this for the young and the smart? Can’t they do it?

“Who will help me plow the land?”

Oh, I’d rather turn away. It’s not only the safest thing to do, it’s the easiest. I’d surely like one day to break bread with my fellow brethren of different color and culture. I surely would. I’d like to pass that plate of steaming biscuits down a long row of people and share stories and talk of things to be.

“Who will help me plow the land?”

Here’s the thing: the Little Red Hen has gone through these motions so many times before with the same responses, she is at the end of her patience. Like that gospel scripture, “Oh Jerusalem, Jerusalem …  How often I wanted to gather your children together…” (Luke 13: 34).

“Who will help me plow the land?”

So, now what?


Copyright © by Lawrence S. Marsden, 24 June, 2015

One Response to “So, now what?”

  1. Outlier Babe June 28, 2015 at 12:25 am #

    Good question. What IS a plan? Universal preschool with a non-adult-taught video-based effortless reading program and the same for a character-building program is a start–with all shades of skin, facial features, and hair colors and textures represented in fair proportions.

    Commonly-funded public schools, all pulling equal funds per student from the same federal pot would a help. Some whites remaining in the public school system in privileged areas would not want that to pass, but if blacks outvoted them, we’d see some positive change. Improve public school education for all children, I THINK might reduce elitism, and thus racism.

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