Kinship as a cure for the virus of poverty - Kevin McDermott

Yesterday was a sad day ( 4/04/ 68), remembering fifty two years last night – A little after 10:00 pm I was sitting alone in my room. I was a young 19 year old and that evening I struggled with the emotional roller coaster ride  that were my feelings – mostly anger and sorrow.

That night while crying I made a promise to God that some way – some how ( really had no clue – too spiritually  immature- at that time) I would someday continue Martin's( ML ) work. All I knew is after meeting ML he left his footprint on my heart and soul!

One year earlier- April of 1967- I marched from  Central Park South ( Westside of NYC) to the UN Building ( Eastside of NYC)  with this Southern Baptist Minister leading the way. This march was a protest against the war in Viet Nam. ML's spoke of the effects of the war on poor people and our young people (like me) . That speech speaks to me differently  today that speech spoke of the virus ( my words) of poverty. This virus of poverty,  in past fifty years , has killed millions, destroyed millions  families and sent millions to jail for no  other reason than they were poor and a person of color.

It's amazing to think back over the past twenty five years and see my life's  journey:  helping inmates ,coaching, teaching, mentoring and working closely with so many “ What If" kids.( see essay titled AMAE) Japanese word translated – living in a deep sense of being cherished, knowing this  has changed the fabric of my being.

Now being a part of creating of the Naomi and A.D King Youth Empowerment Center,  today it brings my heart such Joy that I’m actually working to keep the DREAM of the brothers ( ML & AD) alive, and keeping my promise to God.  Plus  I'm also part of project in Columbus, Ohio in partnership with Rev Joel King,  Randy Burley and my ex roommate from over fifty years ago Lace Strong who also was the best man in our wedding almost forty six years ago.

So today we have this Rona virus, It seems to me the mishandling of this virus has been caused mostly by our lack of a moral compass or our crisis in leadership has caused this virus of stupidity and hatred to be on steroids. Far too many may have died already and will continue to die simply because of some of our leaders lack the compassion and the understanding to be honest enough see the reality of this pandemic because they're  just being too self serving .

Yesterday I took that emotional roller coaster ride Again- sorrow and anger and I cried for our predicament as a nation. Yet today all I could think of is the work we are still called to do. As always I seem to find the words of ML rolling thru my mind , in 1967 he said: “ What is needed today is the realization that power without love is reckless and abusive and love without power is sentimental and anemic ( sounds familiar)”         “ It's precisely this Collison of immoral power with powerless morality which still constitutes the major crisis of our time!”  Sadly it seems as true today as it did over fifty years ago.

I believe we will work our way through this crisis. So this a call to all the good souls : beware of the soul snipers.

 Our children need our love and an education not our hatred and incarceration! Our children are out there crying & dying for our help and we need to hear their crying.

The “ What If" kids as in- what if they had been parented?  What if they had been surrounded by love and had been given as much positive attention that kids need? What if they just had a stable place to rest their heads? One of reasons for the Naomi and A.D King Youth Empowerment Center to exist is to help these “ What If" kids embrace the fact what they believe “ I Am Worth It “ so that can actually have meaning for them.

Often people ( especially potential donors or funders) want to know if this Center will “WORK" ? Will what the Center does, in the end, be successful? I often think of what I once read that Mother Teresa said while responding to  that question: “ We are not called to be successful, our calling is to be faithful!”  Her distinction has always been helpful to me. Embracing that strategy has helped me to believe in times when it seems the best I can do is give up , to just keeping Marching On! Days like the ones we are going through right now.

When I surrender my need for immediate results and quick outcomes, success becomes Gods’ business .My biggest struggle is to somehow to  remain faithful. Working to stay faithful and be persistent when it like so many obstacles are constantly in our path and faithfulness can be very difficult.

My hope is someday ( I've been called naïve ) to have the powers bent on waging war against the poor , the young and the “ What If" kids be moved enough to actually care enough to observe this virus of poverty and see how it continues to destroy millions of lives.

Only when we create a loving community like the Naomi and A.D King Youth Empowerment Center- will we be moved to kinship to make a difference.

 The Center will be a community where these forgotten souls-the “What If" will be valued , appreciated and loved. Maybe this will help our society abandon values that seek to exclude our “What If" kids.

 Mother Teresa once diagnosed our world ills this way “ we've just forgotten that we belong to each other”. Kinship is what happens to us when we begin to understand that the answer to most ills is compassion and we let compassion guide us.

I suppose I never felt this kinship more in my life then when I was hospitalized for six months in 2018 first with the Sepsis virus and then with an operation for cancer and the 45 days of radiation therapy.  Hundreds of well wishers – many of my “What If" kids , friends, relatives and my family -family my son’s & their spouses and my grandson and  especially my wife of 46 years Mary at my bedside day after day without missing a day!

The world seem to say to me “ Now it's our time to take care of you!”     So helping to create the Naomi and A.D King Youth Empowerment Center is My way  to say to the “ What If “ kids we belong to each other!Only with kinship , inching ourselves closer together, can we build a beloved community such that God might recognize it.

Sometime after this pandemic is past us, we will imagine with God's Grace this circle of compassion. I believe that kinship is what God presses us on to, always hopeful that it's time has come.

Again I believe our children need our love and an education not our hatred and incarceration!

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