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Sixty-Something: Peace And Love, Through Understanding

T.J. Clemente

"At the end it would feel better if we knew we left our world a better place because we did the right thing," Clemente reflected. (Photo: TJ Clemente)

At sixty-something you realize how fast a lifetime is. When you are young the future seems forever away. Over a lifetime you see things repeat themselves. These last few weeks we all were witnesses to the phenomenon of what happens when you attack fairness, dignity, and respect with blatant disregard for professional actions in policing ourselves. I say ourselves because the police are not some foreign military force but folks we all hire and pay through our elected officials.

The raw emotions of all people who saw the video of George Floyd reignited the explosive impulses of what repression can foster. This is an emotion that is both colorblind and color sensitive. Who amongst us did not know what we saw was just so very wrong? It forced a coronavirus sequestered nation to stand up and come out to protest.

For people of color, it was and is so much more, it is pouring vinegar into the bleeding wounds of injustice they know. For all others it is embarrassing to know we let this happen over and over again and that it is our crime against humanity.

At sixty-something we realize peace and love only comes from understanding that all folks deserve respected dignity in their battle with the forces of forging a lifetime in America. The status of color is not an American invention. However as Americans it is a situation we must rectify to insure all Americans are in fact born equal to tackle life and have a solid shot at what we call the "American Dream."

My dad, in the week before he laid on his deathbed in his home, actually went next door unannounced to the home of then Bronx County District Attorney Robert Johnson, who also happens to be a person of color. My dad apologized to a stunned Mr. Johnson for not doing enough to fight prejudice in his lifetime, he confessed he was in fact prejudice and he now as a dying man realized it was a huge stain on his lifetime. He looked Mr. Johnson in the eye and didn't ask for forgiveness, but to let him know who he was his whole life. Mr. Johnson attended both my dad's wake and funeral. It was at that time, the week before he died that he told me that I must remember to treat everyone with respect and dignity. To never talk down to anyone doing any job at any time. I was 46-years-old and for the last 21 years I have attempted to honor his wish because he was right.

They say in life things happen for a reason but how can there be a reason for senseless behavior happening? This is a question I will take to my grave. In the end human behavior comes down to individual behavior collectively. We all must do the right thing - not at the right time, but all the time. At the end it would feel better if we knew we left our world a better place because we did the right thing.

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