A recent headline in the Knoxville News Sentinel describing 12-year-old JaJuan Hubert Latham proclaimed him a “ray of sunshine.” Latham’s life was recently taken too soon in a gang-related drive-by shooting. Latham is also the cousin of Zaevion Dobson, a 15-year-old local football star, that I’ve written about previously. Dobson, another tragic young victim of gang violence, was killed in December while protecting friends from gunfire.
A riveting photo accompanying the article brought me to tears—four elementary school aged students in a circle embracing each other. As I viewed this photo, I thought there must be many other circles of young children at this elementary school, embracing each other as they were grieving.
Everyday scenes such as this are all too common. This moved me to think about our relationships with each other and what human relationships should be about. Care and compassion came to mind. An example I look to are both of my parents who were warm, considerate people and who had great role models in their lives. This allowed them to foster feelings of community where we could all live, work and play together without fear. However, if tragedy does strike, I was taught to provide comfort to those I considered friends as well as foes.
Not all stories end as happily as mine of course, such as the case with young JaJuan Hubert Latham. Recognizing this, we need to keep in mind in our affordable housing communities that we have a great opportunity to make a difference by embracing the value of relationships and by being caring, compassionate and helpful. Let’s value each of our relationships and even when you feel weary of life’s circumstances…never give up, never give up, never ever give up.
By Chaplain Ghosten