The Year 2017 in Review

Dr. Maxine Thompson

On a spiritual level, as human beings, we took so many hits in 2017, we are still reeling. It is hard to stay grounded when you are in a whirlwind of trouble. No sooner than one disaster would hit, and you hadn’t even recovered, another one would barrel down on you, almost crushing you.

Hurricanes and floods in Texas, Louisiana, Florida, Puerto Rico. The Florida massacre. The Las Vegas Massacre. Wild fires here in California, which have caused mass evacuations. Now a train derailment in Washington. The looming nuclear threat from North Korea. Then the Biggee: The Tax Cuts. This is just to name a few catastrophes in the U.S. news, which knocked you off your epicenter in 2017. Many of the people who have been affected by the floods and fires are probably still not in their homes. How do they adjust to this new normal? How do we, as human beings, get through these life-changing events without remaining in a perpetual state of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?

Well, for one, I pray. I’ve never prayed so hard. I’m now remembering a song from my late mother’s old church. “I know, I know that prayer changes things.”

There is going to be a shift in consciousness. On a mass level, people are going to start praying. I believe in the power of prayer.

We can do battle with prayer. With God, “All things are possible.” Matthew 19:26. Ask for the direction to take to heal, to recover, to overcome. Matthew 7:7. “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”

As artists, we write, we paint, we sculpt, we make music. Let us continue to do so. We capture these moments in history in our work. That is our legacy.

I don’t know about you, but all these senseless mass murders in the last years are beginning to take its toll on me. I am usually a happy person. I believe in God and in his son, Christ Jesus. I read my scriptures every day, but even so, I feel a low-grade depression now that’s like a recurring low-grade infection. Psychologists call this (PTSD), Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. I believe I’m not the only one suffering from this. We haven’t recovered from one shooting, (for me, as an African-American, that includes all the unjustified murders of my people at the hands of the police, who are supposed to protect and serve, and most recently, the Charleston, SC church hate-crime massacre) when there’s another mass shooting.

Life is already fraught with enough of our own personal drama, so add all these mass killings, and police brutality murders, which we’re seeing in the media, it can become too much! What happened to America, the land of the free?

Granted, we live in a dangerous world. According to the Bible, we are now living in the last days. (2 Timothy 3: 1-5.) The season of terror is here on American soil. We live in a constant state of high alert since 9-11.

I am now a senior and I’m more cautious. I’m not as adventurous as when I was a young social worker who would knock on doors to back houses at night in Detroit or South Central Los Angeles, not knowing what I would encounter. Nothing bad ever happened to me either, (maybe because I’m a former child of the inner city of Detroit.) Yet, at the same time, at this age, as a baby boomer, I don’t want to live in fear. What should we do?

If you can’t go to church without fear, you can’t go to work, you can’t go to the movies, young children aren’t safe in school, where is our safe haven?

It just came to me. With prayer and belief in God, we have to create it for ourselves. This is what my ancestors, who were brought here in chains, did. They created their own safe haven through a strong faith, which eventually led to their emancipation.

My advice to parents with young children is to pray over them before they go to school each day. Tell them to watch their surroundings. Tell your children you love them every day.

Adults should pray each day before they go out into the world. Handle your business as to living trusts and wills. Watch your surroundings. But unforeseen circumstances can befall any of us.

If caught up in a hostile mass shooting, an expert on TV said to either run, hide, (cut off your cell phone’s ringer if you’re hiding,) or fight, if there is a group of people against 1 or 2 gunmen.

Last, we need to hold our politicians accountable as to gun control laws. Make your vote count. Enough is enough.

My heart, my prayers and my condolences go out to the families of the latest shootings here in San Bernardino Regional Center, California.

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