The Need For Reconnection

     In his book entitled, The Search for Common Ground:  An Inquiry into the Basis for Man’s Experience of Community, published in 1971, Dr. Howard Thurman draws a sobering conclusion from his observations of the changes that were taking place among African American youth.  He said, “At last it is beginning to dawn upon us that at some point in the past-when we are not sure-we have become separated from our absolutes.”  When I consider the present plight of the African American community and the many challenges we face, I cannot help but feel that we are now living with the consequences of that separation.

     Our absolutes are those ultimate and eternal truths that are not only necessary for our survival, but are essential if we are to live meaningful, fulfilling lives that result in a sense of well-being.  As I have come to understand it, this is what the New Testament has in mind when it speaks of abundant and eternal life.

     When we are separated from our absolutes, we are separated from that which defines who we are, we tend to settle for a life that is less than the life we could have by fulfilling our God given potentials and possibilities and we accept the premise that we are independent individuals who must struggle to make it in this life on our own.  The result is that we are disconnected from our communities, from our relationships, from our families, from ourselves and most importantly from the God who is the Source and Sustainer of our lives.  One of the tragedies of this disconnection is the loss of compassion  and with this loss, we become primarily concerned about our own personal agendas and less concerned about the common good.

     In a recent forum on the Black child, one of the speakers spoke passionately about his anger at the present conditions in the African American community, particularly the plight of African American males.  As I listened to him, it occurred to me that at the heart of his anger is the depth of his connection with our absolutes.  He is so connected that he feels the hurt and the pain, the frustration and the anger that is created by the plight of many of those who live in urban African American communities and find themselves faced with almost insurmountable challenges.

     In the midst of this separation and disconnection, there is a word of hope.  Dr. Wade Nobles, a leading African American thinker on African American spirituality states, “…all Black people need to know is already inside each Black person…  We’ve got to get back to the Spirit”.  I am convinced that despite all we have endured as African Americans, we have survived and at points even thrived because of our connection with the Spirit.  I have no doubt that we need to make the best use of all of our God given talents, gifts and abilities to meet the challenges we face.  We must also explore and utilize all the resources that are at our disposal and where necessary, create new ones.  However, unless our efforts are rooted and grounded in the Spirit that is the source of our lives, our best efforts will fall short of their potential possibilities.  To my way of thinking, getting back to the Spirit is the way to reconnect with our absolutes.