My People’s Promise

on November 18 | in Vulnerability | by | with 4 Comments

I was 22 years old. I had never flown before. I had never traveled further than the Central Time Zone before. And, I was scheduled to go to Israel with Kyra and her family during the Second Intafada. Prior to our departure, I visited home. My people were worried. I was too. But, my Aunt reassured us all.

“If anything happens, no matter what” she growled “we’re gonna get our guns and come get you.”

My people broke out in a collective “Hell Yeah!”

“It will be all right” I told them.

So, they let me go.

And, it was.

Yet, on one of our walks through Jerusalem, the Israel Defense Forces rushed passed to detonate an unaccompanied backpack. In that moment, I had never felt so distant from my people. But, I found comfort in my people’s promise.

Yes, it was fantastical.

The idea of the Schoonover Clan rolling over the dunes to crash the gates of the Old City in my Aunt’s El Camino was absurd.

But, I believed they would do what they had to do to get me back.

Some may say that such a ridiculous promise does not warrant being vocalized.

Not me.

That promise still rings in my ears.

I have made that same promise to Dillon.

“If anything happens, no matter what, I will come get you.”

Indeed, over the years, I have added some logistical flourishes.

“The truck is always gassed up. And, I’ve got a bat, a truncheon and a machete behind the back seat, just in case you, your mom and I need to throw down together.”

Unlike a lot of my people, I do not own guns.

I’ll shoot them. I just don’t own them.

And, unlike a lot of my people, I did not vote for Donald Trump.

I have never felt so distant from so many of my people.

I cannot stop thinking about my people’s promise.

It is a primal promise.

We humans have been making that promise to our kin for tens of thousands of years. Back then, we needed to. It was a more violent time. Maybe just maybe, it was the credibility of that promise that allowed early humans to venture forth on their own to explore new lands.

It is a powerful promise.

I am sure that promise was also used to keep people in line.

Can you imagine having that promise rescinded 100, 500, or 1,000 years ago?

Terrifying!

It is only while wrapped in the arms of my people that I feel securely anchored.

And, that is why I cannot stop thinking of my people’s promise.

Post election, I feel apart.

I do not like this feeling.

Indeed, I feel this pull to quietly accept the results of the election.

I cannot lose my people’s promise.

Now, none of my people have asked this of me.

But, I feel the need to come back into the fold.

And, if I do, I worry that I will become one of those “good people” that activists so frequently talk about.

I am nice. I do the right things. I say the right things. But, in the end, I will not do the things that need to be done.

My people’s promise or my politics?

What will I choose?

Do I have to choose?

No.

That promise is a dual force of nature.

Yes, it can push me to fall back in line.

But, it can also give me the courage to venture forth and voice my dissent.

It can give me the courage to join my people in complex and emotionally charged conversations.

How so?

I will hold them to their promise.

They said: “No matter what”

And, in return, I will make them a promise.

 “If anything happens, no matter what” and right now you need to know that I am growling “I will get my machete and come get you.”

I think I found my way forward.

 

PS I want to thank Marina and Cait for helping me with my thoughts on our walks across campus.

Shawn Humphrey, the Blue Collar Professor (@blucollarprof)
Connect with me on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/blucollarprof
Subscribe to my blog: http://feeds.feedburner.com/ShawnHumphrey

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4 Responses to My People’s Promise

  1. Gene Schoonover says:

    The love and strength of family and values at some point we have to defend them. As diverse as a family can become it is that diversity that help define us as welll as allows us to grow, so grow and don’t be afraid to embrace the things that have made you –you .
    The promise is true as you know it is

  2. Gram says:

    My precious grandson it takes a real man to say what is truly on his mind. Just like before we have not always been on the same track our tracks crossing times but there’s one thing that will never change it’s that promise if you’re in need you know your Family will be there God willing. We. would move Heaven and Hell to save you if we could and the only way to move heaven is to fully fall on our Lord Christ Jesus. Politics as you know in our family has always been one topic along with all religions that we do not talk about.
    We would not consider it weak to come back to the fold (family) for you’ve never been away. Just as I made a statement to my cousin Fred Mullins just because we vote the opposite side does not vote us out of the family for our blood is thicker than water our love is stronger than string and our family the clan love one another regardless of who we are ,what we are ,where we are, first and foremost We Are Family !! So you keep your weapons behind that seat because I keep my gun near me I love you I should have put this on a personal email but I want people to know just because you vote or believe differently then the guy next door, the sister up the street we still remain family and it’s through the Grace of God that we live in a country that we can do this even when others opposes us, WE FIGHT ON IN OUR OWN WAY. Without destroying other people’s property ,hurting other people physically and turning on our law enforcement for they do their job they too have their own opinions, I have always wanted to go to Israel I’m glad that one of my grandchildren was there. , keep up the good work honey

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