Here's a riddle for you...What is the world’s greatest commodity that often holds little value in today’s world? It’s wisdom and specifically the wisdom of our senior citizens.
You see, wisdom is a knowledge that is not gained through books or studies, but instead through experiences. It could be loss, tragedy, heartache, prejudices, or love, joy, and kindness. But these personal experiences give us a broader perspective and allow us to be open-minded and reflective. This is the wisdom that I see in Earnestine Brooks, a 78-year-old Pflugerville resident.
Earnestine is a client of Senior Access and what’s occurring in our country as a result of George Floyd’s death is not new to her. She’s seen it and already lived through it. So, I just had to call her up and talk to her about it. I needed her wisdom...no WE needed her wisdom.
So I asked her, “What message do you have for our communities that might help us heal?” and no surprise, Earnestine’s first response was, “God has us.” Her faith is strong and she wishes everyone would turn to the Bible right now. She talked about how greed and hatred have replaced the caring and civility that she knew as a child. “This is what we need to get back to,” says Earnestine.
Raised in Pflugerville she recalls a wonderful childhood in a loving family. Her father was well-liked with the farmers in the community due to his kind nature and personality. He taught his kids to love everyone. Her family moved to Austin when she was 10 years old because her father wanted Earnestine and her siblings to continue their education beyond what the all-black school could provide, but ironically it was Austin, where she first encountered prejudice.
I listened to her experiences and the conversations she has had with her own two daughters and now her grandchildren about the racism they have seen or experienced. So I asked her, “How do we move forward from here?”
Listening to each other with open ears and an open heart and to not be so critical or judgmental of each other. Be more tolerant of our differences. She giggles at recently finding out after genealogical research and DNA testing, that she is part Irish, Jewish, even Polynesian, but her strongest roots come from the Congo in Africa and even Madagascar. She’s so cool!
I loved talking with her and I love the example she is to me and the community. She reminded me that change starts with ourselves and that my neighbors might be watching me and how I treat others and this might make the difference for change. No pressure! Lol!
So to cultivate a broader perspective I need to have the knowledge of the facts, be open-minded, reflective, and the ability to take a step back, but mostly I need courage because I’m not programmed to see things from others' points of view. But wow! The view can be exhilarating!