Family. What is family?
This question has been on my mind, so I decided to write. I was inspired by a recent incident that happened with my biological family. It made me want to ask, “What is family?”
Is family the scientific meaning? Biological? Having the same mom and dad?
Is family something a young boy or girl finds when they join a gang because their biological family didn’t provide love?
Is family something a homeless man or woman finds under a bridge with people in similar circumstances, when they are shunned by their biological family, when they have lost their job and home due to the failed economy, or have served a country that leaves veterans begging in the street?
What is family?
I live in the Oak Park area. And as I live here, going about my daily life, I always wonder what happened to family? I remember when young people respected their elders, played outside, and had curfews.
Today, young people are raising themselves, seeing who can take the best selfie or has the latest shoe or gadget. Where did the parents go? A better way of saying it is, where did the mothers go?
It is no secret that African American families have a high number of families without fathers present. A lot of black men leave the mothers of their children to be single mothers, raising a youngster alone. It’s been going on for ages, so don’t get bent out of shape because I said it. But today, mothers who were once so strong are leaving their children behind for various reasons, like addiction to meth or prescription drugs, prostitution or just not wanting the responsibility because the father isn’t there.
Come on, moms: renew your strength for our children’s sake. A good mother is like a deep-rooted tree. We are strong and sturdy and can’t be moved. Our love is deep like the fierce waving blue ocean and can spread throughout our communities if we let it.
Gangs are out of control in Oak Park with our sons and daughters. There seems to be a different gang on every street. This street, Bloods. That street, Crips.
When our children are in trouble with the law or shot dead in the street, the street still stands without a thought for them. Our children are dying. They are being sent to prison for life. Crimes such as black-on-black murder are putting them there in the prime of their lives to remain there forever. And it seems as if nobody cares.
In fact, it seems like violence is encouraged within our communities.
What happened to family — and not just the biological one? What happened to the times where an adult could chastise a child and not be afraid that the child’s parent would want to fight or shoot because someone corrected a child for doing wrong? Family needs to return to our communities because it does take a village to raise a child. Without a community working together, an entire generation will be extinct.
The homelessness I see in Oak Park is disturbing. There are people who live with mental health issues, walking around talking to themselves. They once had jobs and homes. Now they live on bus benches because the economy collapsed and they never recovered.
There are people who live on the street by choice, but some just fell in a rut. People are making homes in parks and wherever they can find a “private spot” on the grounds of churches or other buildings. If you don’t live in Oak Park, take a ride through and see for yourself.
This is America, a place that says it loves its citizens. But there are countless veterans who served this selfish country and they are now homeless. These men and women have lost limbs, acquired PTSD and become dependent on various medications — all in the name of America. And this is the thanks they get.
Where did family go? Charity begins at home then spreads abroad. There is no reason that America should send aid to any country in this world before it takes care of the veterans who have served this country.
No matter if it’s biologic parents, a member of the community trying to steer a child in the proper way, or America treating its veterans with respect, the sense of family must return so we won’t lose our children to the streets, prisons or graveyards.
What is family to you?