Demanding more from ourselves

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JAMES CLINGMAN

 

(NNPA)—Frederick Douglass’ words—“Power concedes nothing without a demand”—have been haunting me lately, because of the pressing issues we face in today’s political world, the dire economic straits in which many of our families find themselves, and the ever-present social problems Black people deal with every day.  The key word in that admonishment is demand.

Ever since Douglass uttered those words, we have used them to determine how and what we must demand from others.  Our responses have been external. My question is: What is our internal response to Brother Frederick’s words? Are we demanding anything from ourselves as we seek power instead of mere influence in this society?

Although we seldom follow through on much of the knowledge passed down to us by our forebears, we sure do like to quote them.  I guess it makes us feel good; but as I always say, “There is a big difference between feeling good and doing good.” Yes, words make us feel good, but they should also make us “do good,” too.  Too many of our ancestors have sacrificed too much of themselves for us to merely repeat what they said without following through on what they said.

Thus, the “demand” that Douglass spoke of is magnified to an even larger degree and should be—must be—taken on an internal basis as well as an external one.  Our elder also said, “People might not get all they work for in this world, but they must certainly work for all they get.” That statement is more suited for an internal response, which is probably why we don’t use it as much as the one that has to do with power.

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