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REV. PAUL ABERNATHY

Many times, we in the community discuss health inequity with great frustration. We are always thinking about when the opportunity for us to expand access to health care and an improvement in the way health care is delivered in our communities will come. It is important that we do not miss the opportunities we have asked for, for generations. The All of Us research program is perhaps one of the greatest opportunities that our community has been presented with in decades. All of Us gives us the opportunity, through participation, to pave the way for improved health care—not only us but for our children and our children’s children. It is time that we take responsibility in embracing this opportunity with the future of our community in mind, with the realization that, if we do so, lives in our community will be greatly improved generations from now. It is our hope and our prayer that the dedication that we have demonstrated by participating in this research will lead to healthy living that creates a new norm for culture and life in our community.

I think it is important that we approach this research in the same spirit of our ancestors. In fact, I’m reminded of Abraham Lincoln, who said, “The struggle of today is not altogether for today.” He was referring to the freeing of the slaves. Freedom from slavery would not just end racism in the nation. Rather, there would be many decades after 1865 before we could even have civil rights in this nation. We have to understand that there are steps that must occur across multiple generations before change can truly happen. We may not receive the benefits from the steps we take. Just like our ancestors before us, we have to understand that the struggle of today is not only for today. We have to take steps while bearing in mind our descendants to come and the responsibility that we have to them.

I am always reminded of the Iroquois League, our Native American brothers and sisters, and their “seventh generation principle.” One thing that they consider before making a decision is how this decision will affect them seven generations from now. Now, we ask, “How will participating in this research affect us seven generations from now?” We are a community, and communities exist over generations. I think we have to be honest and say that our community seven generations from now will probably be better off because of this step that we took.

 

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