Martin, we’ve lost our way

Dear Martin,

  • Wednesday, July 16, 2008 12:00am
  • Opinion

Dear Martin,

I know you were taken from us far too soon. I just have one request: Could you ask God if we could borrow you for a little while?

I am afraid we have lost our way since you have been gone. We are caught in a war we can’t win and a world that often seems to have no rules.

In the black community in places like Detroit, it was reported the high school dropout rate was 75 percent. In other places like Seattle, this school system wasted valuable time and money obsessing over a racial “tie-breaker” rule. They were under the misguided belief that if a black kid sits next to a white kid, he or she will learn better. What foolishness!

They could have spent that money more wisely by developing more effective programs for all children. However, the school district was more concerned about who was sitting next to who — like it matters.

I’m writing to you because my heart is heavy. In the black community there are very few men and not enough fathers. We have more black men in jail than in college. I wonder why.

These young people shoot one other and kill one another in order to gain what they call respect. It’s because they lack the essential ingredient that people need, and that is to be loved.

Martin, we live in a society that keeps changing the rules and moving the goal posts, which makes it easier to do whatever you want to do at the expense of a civilized society.

One of the biggest problems in the black community is that over 60 percent of children are born to single mothers. Who will teach the boys how to be respectful black men if there are no fathers?

Martin, we need you to lead us again and tell our government that “peace is not the absence of conflict, it is the presence of justice.” We need you to remind us that sacrifice is a virtue and not a vice, and that Jesus Christ really did die for us so we could live again.

I am happy to report that we have a black man running for president. I never would have imagined that in my lifetime I would see this.

Martin, if it was not for your life and ultimate death, Barack Obama or any other black man could not have this opportunity, so thank you one more time.

I know that you can’t come back to us, and with that realization, tears well up in my eyes and my heart is heavy. I remember what you told us before you left that a belief in the unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.

I wrote this letter to you hoping against hope, but also remembering that it is up to us here on Earth to right the wrongs that you gave your life for. In the final analysis, what will matter most is not how much money you made, but how many hearts you touched.

Walter Backstrom is a Federal Way resident. Contact:

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