Thursday, March 31, 2011

A Pledge to Rescue Our Youth by Maya Angelou

A Pledge to Rescue Our Youth
Maya Angelou
© 2006

Young women, young men of color, we add our voices to the voices of your ancestors who speak to you over ancient seas and across impossible mountain tops.

Come up from the gloom of national neglect, you have already been paid for.

Come out of the shadow of irrational prejudice, you owe
no racial debt to history.

The blood of our bodies and the prayers of our souls have bought you a future
free from shame and bright beyond the telling of it.

We pledge ourselves and our resources to seek for you clean and well-furnished schools, safe and non-threatening streets, employment which makes use of your talents, but does not degrade your dignity.

You are the best we have.

You are all we have.

You are what we have become.

We pledge you our whole hearts from this day forward.

A Poem About the Brightness of Youth

Prairie Spring
By Willa Cather

Evening and the flat land,
Rich and sombre and always silent;
The miles of fresh-plowed soil,
Heavy and black, full of strength and harshness;
The growing wheat, the growing weeds,
The toiling horses, the tired men;
The long empty roads,
Sullen fires of sunset, fading,
The eternal, unresponsive sky.
Against all this, Youth,
Flaming like the wild roses,
Singing like the larks over the plowed fields,
Flashing like a star out of the twilight;
Youth with its insupportable sweetness,
Its fierce necessity,
Its sharp desire,
Singing and singing,
Out of the lips of silence,
Out of the earthy dusk.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


My daughter came home tonight grieving and bewildered at the news that an acquaintance of hers, a friend of her girlfriend's, had committed suicide.  The boy was 15 years old.  I had no words of comfort for my girl, who had no frame of reference with which she could make sense of this.  She didn't know the boy well, but that didn't seem to matter -- the obvious tragedy of it, coupled with the almost unbearable "wrongness" of it, depressed her and made her feel limp and tired.  Tucking her into bed, I felt unprepared, and had no words except those of Jesus, that those who mourn will be comforted.

What is it, in a child of 15, that makes him lose hope to the point of choosing violence to himself?  Was he one of those unfortunate children who are medicated for depression or ADHD with drugs that are known to increase suicidal thoughts in teens?  Was he abused?  What can make a child feel that hopeless?  The only thing we heard about the circumstances of his death were that he killed himself and the family had no idea why.

Our hearts are breaking for the family of the boy.  We don't know them.  We can only imagine, and come up emotionally empty, because it is unimaginable.

It is a frightening fact in this country that suicide is the third leading cause of death among teens.  Young people are our treasure and our future -- when they lose hope in themselves, our future looks bleak indeed.