Elder is, as Elder Does… May the circle be unbroken.
(Note: This article was originally published on my blog. You can access it and more info about me at: www.oritvibes.com )
I’m the type that rarely comes out swinging just for me… If I am seeking after, or fighting on behalf of something with great fervor of purpose, it’s because I have meticulously weighed that not only am I in need of that something desperately; but I am also convinced that other people need this something just as much as I do. I have always had a strong sense of what is needed in most situations… I have been like this since I was a child. However, I haven’t always been able to actualize what is needed most, but I’ve perpetually been able to see the entire puzzle, and what pieces were missing.
In my heart and mind, I spread all those pieces out, put them together rightly, and voila! — It comes into clear sight that we are missing this piece and/or that piece…Puzzle unable to be completed. So, this created picture with missing parts, brings forth revelation of what must be found; it initiates me to search and apprehend… Or at least try to do so with all my heart, soul, strength.
I’m a BLACK Wombman with a strong love for nuanced BLACKNESS of the people of Africa, my people… No matter where on the planet we may dwell. As I look specifically at our situation here in Amerikkka, I see that one of the most crucial missing pieces of our puzzle is our elders… They are one of the crucial missing pieces, that makes the entire puzzle picture, not easily perceived. — There are just are not enough elders to go around… To fill that space that allows us to see the entire picture clearly.
Yesterday I had a sort of epiphany, or shall I say I admitted something to myself that had been laying bare in my realizations; but only yesterday did I have the courage, or shall I say the scope, to pick it up and accept its place in our collective truth — That is, not everyone who is 55+ is an elder.
What??? How can I say that an older person isn’t necessarily an elder? Before you stone me, keep reading🙃…Yes, it’s true from my conclusions, not everyone who is older in age is an elder… I truly believe this. Now, older people should be respected, no doubt, but not every older person is full of wisdom and love for community; this cannot be separated from a true elder. Is there such a thing as an elder who isn’t at least 55+? I would have to say yes; that it is a possibility. I think it is rare, but it could be so… But let’s not be too hasty; fruits must show over time.
It isn’t perfection that makes an elder…They are gonna mess up just like any other human, but an elder has the character to correct their mistakes, and in turn teach us how to correct ours… They don’t stay on the wrong path as an act of stubbornness, or to be cheeky, but rather re-align & scold us not to make the same mistakes they have… Elders love truth, and even when they mess up, we know they didn’t mean to do wrong by us, because we have access to their love in action. Some people have elder character early on, and some people never develop it. I would say though, that the vast majority of elders have age on them… Older age & elder character are supposed to go together like peas and carrots… Life experience is supposed to breed a deeper love, and a more all encompassing wisdom.
The problem is that for too long, I have been expecting “elder behavior” from people who have not made themselves capable, are incapable because of life trauma, or who may never be willing to evolve into this stage of being… I think realizing this in a more complete and honest way is liberating for me… Helping me to see people for what they are, and not being upset at them for not being what I know we need… To clarify the picture on our puzzle; those missing pieces in our puzzle.
An elder loves their progeny in a holistic way… They will guide us, get on us, greet us, gear us toward liberating ourselves, grant us with tools to maintain our narratives, and gradually elevate us to replace them; leading our people forward.
In the wake of seeing the lack of LOVE being shown to those of us who are middle age and younger(mostly younger), as we have moved against this system, in this current wave of struggle… The current movement for BLACK LIVES… This has been hard for me… Not just because I needed them, which I do, but because those younger than me need them more. We have some great elders, but there are certainly not enough to be spread around… Elders who do not conform us to the old, but give us their support and wisdom as we embrace the new ways of doing things… Elders who tell us to keep fighting, and defend us with their breaths and heart position… Elders who use their platform, no matter how great or small; not allowing anyone to disparage or take away from what we are trying to contribute, to our collective liberation… Yes, there are some, but I guarantee that 96% of us younger ones, do not have access to at least one of our elders… This is sad, this hurts, this is a major vulnerability in our circle( Ancestors, Elders, Progeny).
I am in the blessed 4% to have 1, yes 1 amazing elder, who encourages me and gets me…This is such a revolutionary thing to have, and I haven’t always had it. Truth is, community is imperative, because many people, even if they have a loving biological family (which I don’t) — That doesn’t mean their family is supportive to their freedom work or “wokeness”… Y’all know how it is, so many BLACK People would rather we not rock the boat, or demand that if we do, it must look exactly like 1963 or else we’re trash… Just wanting us to live in the mirage with them… Be self-centered, instead of loving self in the midst of loving our people.
We never have to replace the love we have for ourselves, so that we can have love for our people; or vice versa… We must simultaneously create balance and cooperation amongst ourselves, in order to restore us to greatness… We can’t be great without each other. Too many BLACK Folk think: “It ain’t that serious” and this is why we need community building and cultural education. This way, we can all realize that our unification IS that serious. Many of the people who may not be directly related to you or I, but who are woke enough to be liberation minded… We need to see family in them, and they in us… The building blocks of our communities have to be centered on folks who think about the collective & not just the “I’m doing me” way of life many embrace today… This is the foundation of community. Our elders, the ones I figured out aren’t just an older person, but have certain character qualities; they are to be the special part of our community, as we build and build and build.
An elder doesn’t give up on us. An elder doesn’t sell us out to the system that wishes to destroy us… An elder will use the metaphysical weight they may have gained over the years, to amplify the work we are trying to do for all of us, because they understand their place in the circle. An elder will correct us and stick around to make sure we get our shit together, cause yes, we can be a hot ass flamin’ mess… But an elder knows that we really and ultimately just need to know that they will always love us. An elder plants seeds in the soul, that enable us to hear their whispers, long after they transition from this realm of things… An elder gets the big picture.
Yo, where my elders at? Where y’all at?🙃 I know there are some awesome ones out there, please know we need you… The collective needs you… Our circle is vulnerable if not enough of us younger ones have you. Also, I have a request, if you don’t mind… Elders, please mentor and nudge those who are your peers, who have refused to blossom into an elder as you have… Only you can reach them, if they’re going to be reached at all… Only you can tell them to see us, because they we are invisible to them, and they mock our words, ways, and pleas… Can you help get more like you wonderful ones, awaken to the calling of elder? Can you do that for us? There just aren’t enough of you to go around, and we need you… We need to be sure everyone younger than you, has seeds of liberation and revolution planted within themselves… Seeds of love, encouraging words and actions, prayers, calls to the Ancestors on our behalf…
We need to know that we can come to you about little and huge matters… That we can depend on you to speak words of solidarity when it’s not the popular thing to do, because you know it’s the right thing to do. Your presence, your words, in some circumstances; they are much much more weightier than ours… You have power we have yet to attain… Please do not diminish that power by allowing respectability politics to trump your love & support of us…
We may not realize we need all of this… We younger ones may say we can do just fine without our elders… But ever since I was a child, I have always been able to see what we need elders, and how magical & re-affirming the presence of their love can be… The more who care for us, the more in focus that piece of the puzzle will become…
And elders, do not worry… We will not just take, without giving back to you… We will breathe the very breaths, you breathed on us; right back on you… We are not just fighting for ourselves and our progeny, but for you and our Ancestors we fight as well… We are a circle, let us be unbroken… Let the vulnerabilities that threaten to separate us, be mended. If we can do this… If we can love and support one another, then we will be able to see more of our collective picture more clearly… We need you… Yes, we need you to survive.
I dedicate this blog to my best elder who has helped me more than she could ever know:
Thank you, NBC😘
ORIT © 2016