Train Up A Generation-Proverbs 22:6, By John Washington, Morehouse College

One of my favorite scriptures in the bible is Proverb 22:6, which reads “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” This particular scripture reminds me of the viral video of Greta Thunberg. She is a teenager from Netherlands, who boldly stood up in front of the U.N’s climate change summit and gave a remarkable speech about her beliefs in Climate Change. She reminds of the scripture because her words show that her parents did start her off right and she will never turn from it. She is the antithesis, the counter argument to popular belief that the youth are just lazy, trouble making, hoodlums.

Our ancestors have started us on the way we should go. My generation and future generations are taking the torch from past generations. That us, “children” have started off on the way we should go and by the grace of God we will not stray from it. Despite everything that is happening in the world from climate change, the presidency, and other troublesome things, I am an optimist. I am an optimist because I see hope, I see the light at the end of the tunnel. I see my generation and younger generations addressing issues that previous generations might not have gone deep into. Issues such as LGBTQIA rights, Mental health, and the environment . We are picking up previous torches from past generations such as our Black presence in America. I’m comparing this generation to the generation of Martin Luther King, Malcolm, and many other Black activist’s generation. That their generation was also known to be trouble making hoodlums. We have to pay homage to those generations before us because without them, we would not be here. That our collective ancestors started us on the way we should go.

Within the original translation of the text it reads , “Initiate the child at the opening (the mouth) of his path”, that the word for Train or Initiate is Chanank in Hebrew. We must initiate our children, so they can go in the correct path. We must initiate them into ideas of Justice, Love, and other virtuous morals because they will not stray from it. We must initiate and train them in the word of the Lord. Our ancestors did do that. Our ancestors within this continent and Africa, started off initiating us. When I speak about initiation, I speak within a spiritual sense. Our first rite of initiation (as Christians) is Baptism

I remember as a kid, growing up in Richmond, VA, when we would have Sunday school, I dreaded those moments. So, I would sneak off to listen to my mother preach instead. I would sit near a man named Mr. Joe Hodgerson because he had a certain aroma to him that nobody would want to be around. One day, Mr.Joe Hodgson said to me “What do you want to be when you grow up?”, and I replied with “A Neurosurgeon”. Like most kids at the time, I wanted to be in a profession that was well known and paid well. And Mr. Hodgerson said to me “No, You’re going to be a preacher,” and I looked at him like he just spit on my face, but I did not realize that he was initiating from that moment on. He intiatied me into a destiny. He started me off the way I should go. Mr. Hodgson spoke my initiation into life. My initiation into a spiritual life.

Our ancestors and God are continuously initiating us that’s why I have Hope. For if God was not initiating us, God would not produce children like Ramon Contreras, a 19 year old teenager, who found an organization that is fighting against Gun Violence, or a young woman named Raquel Thomas, who is a junior at Spelman College and founded an organization to help children with incarcerated parents called Liberating Legacies. So God is continuously training and initiating us because we are all of God’s children. Our ancestors help us to initiate and train also. Because the inspiration for these great acts from the youth don’t appear from nowhere. That our ancestors and older generation have also trained us and initiated into whatever our calling is. By the grace of God, we shall not stray from that. Within an African context, from a young age the village, community, and elders start initiating their children. They start teaching principles of community, love, and other morals of their tribe, they do this in the name of God and the Ancestors. This process is called Esentaye in the Yoruba Language. That Esentaye is the beginning step for children to know their destiny and to be trained for their destiny.

What happens if you have been trained and stray from that training? That you fall out of your initiated self. Well, one day, I was talking to an Elder while I was in Africa. He said to me, one always has to retrain and reinitiate themselves back into Life. I knew he was referring to the hardships that we deal with in Life that may deter us from our destiny, but like that old Gospel song goes Somebody Prayed for me. That song speaks about the numerous people who pray for us. From the preacher to my mama, somebody prayed for me. Praying is apart of being trained and it is used as a tool to train someone. I remember one day, I was falling out of my calling and destiny. I was deterred from my calling that Mr. Hodgson had initiated for me. I was going through emotional trauma and confusion in my life, but one day an elder decided to pray for me, then I felt as if a scab had been lifted over my eyes. Then I know something changed once they had prayed for me. That prayer gave me the motivation to get up and do something. It’s that armor that we need for our daily interaction. Our ancestors prayed for us to be here today. They prayed that their training would take us this far and even further

That my generation and future generations are the light at the end of the tunnel. It might seem dim right now, but the light slowly shining brighter and brighter. Within Morehouse, Spelman, Clark Atlanta, Morris Brown, and Other HBCUs, there are voting registration events, food drives, and non-violence initiative all started by “children” who did not stray from their training and their initiation. My generation and future generations have been trained and initiated by the previous generation, so that we will not be lazy, troublesome hoodlums. But we are strengthened by God and our ancestors because they always training and being initiating us. But how will you train other children, so that they will not turn from their destiny when they are older.

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