'A Child Leads'

Terry Walton


I Was Thinking…

The prophet Isaiah proclaims, “The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them.” (Isaiah 11:6)

But what about the children who have difficult childhoods, of no fault of their own.  How do they lead?  These are the ones who spend a lifetime trying to correct the trajectory of ill-equipped adults whose adult illnesses fall unfairly upon the child.  Where will their leadership journey travel?

One such child is Peggy Wallace Kennedy, the daughter of former Governor of Alabama, George Wallace.  Peggy has written a book entitled, The Broken Road: George Wallace and a Daughter’s Journey to Reconciliation.  Governor Wallace staunch segregationist policies made him one of the most infamous politicians in American history.  His name became an enduring symbol of racial intolerance.

In her memoir, Peggy Wallace Kennedy reveals how her father went from being a trustee at a historically black college and well respected in the African American community, to be an enforcer and enabler of anti-black policies.  She describes what it was like to grow up in a household where politics animated and motivated her father more than being a husband and parent. 

When asked what happened to her father that caused him to move from being respected in the African American Community to a staunch racist, Peggy responded with what I deem to be insightful and sad words.  “When you’re driven and politics is first and the only thing you want is power, you’ll do anything.” (AJC, 12/14/19)

“And a little child shall lead them…”  It is true, yet often it is hard.  This is why we are instructed by Jesus in Matthew’s Gospel “Do not judge so that you may not be judged.” (7:1) Some adults are the way they are due to ill-equipped adults along their life’s path.  We see only a brief snapshot of a person’s life…God sees and knows the entire picture.  God is equipped to judge…not us!

The Good news is that Peggy Wallace Kennedy is growing through her painful, well-intended, yet ill-equipped parenting.  When asked, “How have these lessons influenced how you reared your own children?”  She replied, “One of the first things we taught them was you never judge a person by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

“And a child shall lead them.”  May the Christ child lead us to be people of grace, empathy, compassion and love.

Always Thinking…

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