It is always time to feed our minds

The more we know, the better off we will be

Opinion

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By Arlene Jones

Columnist

I had a chance to speak with an old friend at a recent event. She told me she reads my column weekly. I smiled at hearing that. Then she added that, as of late, my columns have been on lighter tones than in the past. She is right. I have been taking a mental break from some of the harder-hitting things as the reality of just how deep the problems are can be overwhelming.

On average, we live to be at least 70-something years of age. As I journey toward the final years of my life, I know my time here is less than the time I have already been here. The reality that the black community and neighborhoods are filled with so many problems, many of which can be solved by self-imposed moral decisions, is mentally devastating. At the same time, I don't know which is more important: questioning how we got to this point or acknowledging that we are at this point.

The year 2016 is coming to a close and with it the end of the Obama presidency. The year 2017 will bring in Donald Trump (barring shenanigans with the Electoral College vote). I already know that his presidency will bring an endless list of things to write about. The Rev. Al Sharpton has already announced he is holding a march in Washington D.C., but without crystal clear goals, I don't know what the outcome or success factor will be.

I've also noticed on Facebook that the vitriol against Donald Trump has subsided tremendously. But what isn't happening, as far as I know, are the movers and shakers who should be making solid plans to address what life will be like under a Trump presidency. Trump is picking several former generals to be in his cabinet and he has spoken of "law and order," but what exactly that translates to will only be known after he takes office.

No matter who is in office, it is time for black folks to take seriously the issue of education. It was a mere 20 years ago or less that the majority of people living at that time, who were ages 10 and up, had virtually no clue as to what the internet was. It was only the talk about Y2K (the year 2000) and how it would affect computer programs that gave many people their first inkling about that aspect of technology.

Yet here we are approaching 2017 and we still have people who cannot read, do their own 1040EZ tax return or graduate high school and have the skills available to perform the ever-increasing, high-technology skill jobs that are out here. The truth and reality is that if the cash register machine doesn't tell the clerk at the fast food counter how much change to give, many would be at a loss.

When I think of education, I also think of how the late Fidel Castro, president of Cuba, was able in 50 years to get his country to a 99.8% literacy rate. If he could do it there, with limited access to technology, while under an embargo from the U.S. government, what can this country do?

I'll ponder that and a whole lot more as the New Year gets underway. In the meantime, everyone should get a book and read it. Especially as Christmas dawns and the little kids will get toys galore. The more we know, the better off we will be. Even a moron who climbs a pole and touches an electrical wire and kills himself teaches us what not to do.

Let us begin to feed our minds with knowledge the same way we feed our bodies for strength.

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