This I Believe

Lee - Norfolk, va, 23517, Virginia
Entered on January 15, 2007
Age Group: 50 - 65
  • Podcasts

    Sign up for our free, weekly podcast of featured essays. You can download recent episodes individually, or subscribe to automatically receive each podcast. Learn more.

  • FAQ

    Frequently asked questions about the This I Believe project, educational opportunities and more...

  • Top Essays USB Drive

    This USB drive contains 100 of the top This I Believe audio broadcasts of the last ten years, plus some favorites from Edward R. Murrow's radio series of the 1950s. It's perfect for personal or classroom use! Click here to learn more.

This I believe.

My life has been ongoing for 50+ years and I have been mistaken for a man much older and for a younger man. I’m a pastor’s kid who is greatly influenced by my father, though I no longer believe.

When I was 13 Martin Luther King was killed and the TV was overtaken with coverage of the great man. An ignorant child about the world about me, since I was only concerned about the scientific, literate, and atristic endeavors of others I didn’t understand politics. Besides I lived in a very small town in North Dakota where the racial divisions were between the native Americans and the local anglo citizens.

In our small town, as in Native American reservations and towns surrounding them, the demarkaction of encounter, sockal interaction and wealth, it demarkated by the red and white like.

My firends were my “indian” friends, and an “indian hater” who had indian relatives, and some normal teens.

When MLK died my father was astounded about my ignorance and taught me much for the next several days as I listented to King’s speaches and learned about his life and had my parents worry about my travel to the areas where assassinations were stirring up local populations.

I did not go to airports near the assasinations at that time becuase my parents were concerned. On the other hand I continued to lifve near and nearly on the reservation in North Dakota.

My father, who did have his faults: some of them severe, was also a man deeply committted to social justice by simply talking to each othe rin a just manner. He was able to move beying whatever politics he embraced to understand his parishioners and wayward traverlers in a very Jesus like way and who echoed the sermon given by King just before he died. What effect will ne NOT helping do the person that I don’t help.

I also believe that NOT helping a person in need is a hit on one’s own sould and NOT about the needy.

We alll knew our native friends and the challenges faced by Indians in ND small town life. J asked my father for a loan. He wa a younger brother of othe native townspeople and he did this in the hearking range of church members. My father loaned the money. He was told, of course, that he would never see the money again. I am sure my father thought little about the transaction. J returned the money in the presence of the same church members. I know that he affected those men who surrounded my father, but my father was enriched by his simple generosity. It was a moment where racisim was dealt a little blow.

I m not a believer now, but my father hs done much with what he believed. He has been a beakon of value for me in my life. His little gift and it’s treturnt.

But in the pulpit he did an amazing thing on Sunday as a church service in my Grandmother’s churhch. In the laste 60s tensions between young people and “the establishment” were in the news.

Dad structured his sermon around a song I loved. It was “White Houses” by The Animals.

Lyrics follow:

White houses in neat little rows

Contrasting against the sky

Tumbled down black shacks over the tracks

Children so hungry they could cry

The chrome, the steel, the metal dream

Leaving the teepee to rot

The escapist young mind, left behind

Saving dimes for community pot

You better get straight

Better, better get straight

I feel you better get straight right now

Better get straight babe

They’re crying out for love

All the time

But they fail to see the neighbors eyes

The TV is on, 6 o clock news

And channels in full colored lies

The company meets, the president speaks

He’s young but his bones creak

Young girl dresses for the highschool dance

And the guy next door is dying for a beat

Get straight

You better, yes you better get straight babe

Did you hear what I said?

I said to you, that you, you better get straight

They put a bible in a drawer

Of the motel room

And it’s crying out to be read

But it stays right there, collecting dust

No one understands what’s being said

Lovers make love in country boxes

What will tomorrow bring?

They’ve been told that it’s wrong

But they don’t give a damn

Soon another life it will bring

You better get straight babe

Yeah, you better get straight baby

My father walked though this song in a sermon for older small town people to show the concerns that were not only socially responsible and were biblical and from a group as far removed froin blblikcal foundations as anyone.

My father, a reak replublican taught a congregaton about intergeneral understading and valuing the values of the “different” by showing that the “different” were writing about solving social problems in a way that was understandable by thosw who could listen.

I believe that people can be changed by understanding anothers’ sxpresssion, I believe that the cultural “traslators: help us understad each other. And I believe that change can be brought about by small actis of simple good will.