The Crusader Newspaper Group

Grandson’s first birthday intensifies focus on legacy, generation building

Photo caption: Jace Vernon Harris

From a young age, I was taught that a purposeful life had nothing to do with accumulation of stuff or self-aggrandizement. Dillie Clara Williams taught her children that the quality of life is better determined by your standards of living.

That requires an internal assessment of values and beliefs. In her mind, consideration of others and using your blessings to bless others topped the humanity “do list.” The bottom line being not what you get in life, but what you give back.

Altruism is glaringly rare in a society of competition for big, bigger, best. Vulgar opulence flourishes in the midst of shameful squalor and people seem less and less bothered by the disparity. It evokes concern on the ultimate outcome of such indulgences.

I have always been obsessed with being in the company of people who want to make a difference, people who probably wear the mantle of service. I read somewhere that your legacy is the good done for generations that you will never have an opportunity to witness, the children, the unborn.

Inspired by my mother, my personal path to a service mindset probably started with the Cub Scouts and later, the Roosevelt Hi-Y Club. At IU, there was fraternity community engagement. Right out of college, a group of young Gary professionals formed PACT (the People’s Action Coalition and Trust). Myriad opportunities for a life of service emerged over the years.

Undoubtedly the focus on legacy at this particular moment point in time is driven by the celebration this week of the first birthday of my first grandchild, JACE VERNON HARRIS. This miracle of life God manifested in the world of my daughter Bridget and husband Paris Harris was life changing, a spiritual revolution.

This midday October 10, 2022, birth in Chicago precipitated a level of love beyond measure. Through all the joy ignited by his arrival, you can’t help but ponder circumstances his generation may confront. And you wonder if we have done or are doing enough to secure the best prospects for the future.

Baby boomers enjoy so many doors opened, so many roads paved, so many opportunities because so many ancestors recognized the mandate of generation building. They fought and labored and persevered and paid the ultimate price, knowing they would never be paid for the work they did. 

Challenges are greater today than ever. Is there enough heart among enough people to rise to the occasion? Racism. Misogyny. Mental wellness. Poverty. Education. The environment. Women’s rights. Health care. Hunger. Homelessness. The justice system. Diversity and equity. The list is endless. But are there sufficient soldiers on these battlefronts?

For the sake of my beautiful grandson and those of his generation, I pray that we are relentless in our commitment for change. It’s a debt to our ancestors that we can never repay and a promissory note for the young that we cannot allow to be returned marked insufficient funds. There is much work to be done and the laborers are few.

We have to rise to the occasion over and over and over again. No matter how little or how much you feel you have contributed to the good and welfare of society, it could be more. It should be more. Start on the simple level by voting, and intelligently discussing critical issues. Hold people in charge accountable. Get personally involved in the process.

With the brilliant force of millennials and even younger people pursuing higher education today, there is every reason to believe that for Jace Vernon Harris and his contemporaries that the world will learn from the mistakes of others and be better for it. My prayer is they will harness in excellence the knowledge, skills, endurance and mentality to surpass current and past generations!

Happy birthday Jace Vernon Harris! Be inspired and be an inspiration! God be with you every day in every way, now and forever!

CIRCLE CITY CONNECTION by Vernon A. Williams is a series of essays on myriad topics that include social issues, human interest, entertainment and profiles of difference-makers who are forging change in a constantly evolving society. Williams is a 40-year veteran journalist based in Indianapolis, IN – commonly referred to as The Circle City. Send comments or questions to: [email protected].

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