I sit here in my autumn of life looking back on my early years, thinking about how easily I fell into the ways of my peers. How when something was seen as normal behavior or common behavior I would emulate it without even considering the moral aspect of it. Mind you when you’re a child you think less and emulate others to fit in out of your desire to fit in. I was a child in the 1970s, and there were many social issues back then, being a kid I was not too aware of most of them until I was around 12 years old and which would have been about 1979.
Unfortunately, many of my peers used racial slurs towards one another during these years of my life and even I fell prey to using some a few times back then. I was so fortunate to have some really good parents that through example showed me that was wrong and that we should see one another as human beings, and not judge one another by skin color, sex, sexual preference, religion, and so on. Between my parents and the many friends that I had, I avoided going down a dark and sad path. I emerged from my childhood into my teens with a better mindset and friends from all walks of life.
It is so sad how easy it is for a child to get pulled into such negativity, the child only knows how to emulate and seek acceptance. It’s human nature to seek a group to belong to and for them to emulate that group. It is of course just as easy for a child to fall in with the right kind of crowd as well. The problem is providing more positive groups for them to belong to and reducing those negative ones. And then there are some children that never feel like they fit into any group and they bounce from the outer edges of one to another and find themselves feeling unwanted or outcasted.
We should all try and remember how it was for us when we were a child, the same problems we faced kids today face and they also face newer threats and challenges as well. Parents should take the lead in teaching their kids tolerance and acceptance of those who are different, and teach compassion and understanding to them as well. Children are just children and they need room to grow, learn from mistakes, and be guided by parents through it all.
My parents did the best they could, they could have done more and could have done better in some areas of how they raised me. But I am very fortunate that they did as well as they did in raising me. They are why I am the way I am and they gave me the ability to accept others as they are. I pray one day Martin Luther King’s I Have a Dream speech becomes reality and we all can live side by side seeing one another as brothers and sisters in this world together.