I opened my eyes very early the morning of February 3, 2006. My family informed me that the 6½ hour surgery had gone very smoothly. “They got all the cancer!” my wife said with a smile. I had only been away from them for a few hours, but it felt like several months.
Thirty staples reconnected the tissue from my stomach up to my sternum. My esophagus had been removed, my stomach stretched and reorganized, and I was receiving all my food through a feeding tube. Just six months before (August 2005), I had been given only a 15-20% chance of survival unless I went through a very sophisticated combination of chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery.
This surgery was like making it to an oasis in the desert. If done well, my survival prospects would quadruple. Today, I am almost a year from the surgery with growing optimism that I will live a long and healthy life.
But what about my nation?
I am excited about making several New Year’s resolutions this year. My commitment is to become a more effective, sane voice with regard to race relations and moral clarity in our nation. You may call it “one man’s war to bring healing to a philosophically divided nation.” I am motivated by two things: the needs of black America and a personal passion to make a lasting impact on my world.
Black America needs the continued renewal of striving for exceptional personal achievement, strengthening its families, and leaving a legacy of education and training for future generations. It is clear to me that we are about to become the second most prominent racial group. In the next five years the Hispanic community will emerge as the most sought after voting block. Because this community is not as monolithic in its make up or voting patterns, Democrats and Republicans will invest in a highly expensive tug of war for the swing vote of this community.
In the mean time blacks will have to make major strides for themselves. The Katrina tragedy should stand as a warning to blacks that many communities, which have allowed themselves to languish in poverty for years, can be destroyed through national tragedy or a sudden economic crisis. We cannot labor under the assumption that all we have to do is cry out “Racist!” and the cavalry will ride to our rescue. The cavalry of governmental help and special programs will not take us to the next plateau. We are going to have to be our own cavalry!
Bishop Harry Jackson is chairman of the High Impact Leadership Coalition and senior pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, MD, and co-authored, Personal Faith, Public Policy [FrontLine; March 2008] with Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council.