Life on Every Level

Dream, dream, dream
my little sheep
Dream that you are the moon.
Bold, beautiful, round and calming the sea…Dream


 Life on Every Level

written & edited by Kendall F. Person

There are irrefutable differences between nature and nurture. Nature is passed down through the blood and especially prevalent in the wild, it is the instinct that enables animals to survive. In us, it may be the way we think, or how we relate to the world, and according to Professor Paul Bloom, a researcher at the Infant Cognition Centre at Yale University, it may dictate our moral code. Nature just happens, all by itself. But nurture, on some levels, is much harder, more complex. Nurture must be taught and it must be learned. It is what a child sees in his immediate world, during the all to important formative years. The fortunate are raised by parents who are wise, healthy, ambitious and caring. They also are nurturing, instilling within us self-esteem and whatever nature may have left out. Giving their offspring a chance to grow up knowing right from wrong, and understanding, that we are someone. But when nature has not gifted us a fair shot, and when we are not born into nor arrive at the doorstep of a nurturing home, than how do we learn to live a fulfilling life; and is there a way to keep from tearing ourselves apart?


In 1994, in America’s third largest city, Chicago, Illinois, there lived a little boy who never stood a chance. Born of an absentee father, who was a ward of the state, a drug addicted mother, who projected her pain onto him, and the only sunlight in his life, a grandmother, who was trying to shine her light on 19 other kids. His name was Robert Yummy Sandifer and by the time he was 3-years-old, he was well known in the overburden halls of the child protection system, and his abuse and neglect at home, were well documented.

With no one to nurture him, perhaps it was nature that took hold. The instinct to survive, adapt and play the game of life, with the cards that have been dealt. By the time he was 8, he was a menace to society. He dropped out of school – in the 4th grade no less – became a bully and a crook, even before he joined a street gang. The life he was leading was way over his young head. Thought he had all the answers, but with no education, absent of any structure or positive  guidance, neglected by the system and invisible to society. Rather he was born with or without a moral code, is a debate without an answer, but what we do know is that Robert Yummy Sandifer never stood a chance. He would elevate his crimes from misdemeanor to that of a cold-blooded murderer. He would never be judged by a jury of his peers, for a rival street gang would assassinate him, ending his life of sorrow, by the tender age of 11 years.

they don’t know my struggle. they don’t know my pain.

The situation of his life is too complex to enter a judgement from either extreme end of the pole. Throwing money into an overburden system would have little effect if the system itself were flawed. And dismissing Yummy as a derelict on life, who should have pulled himself up by his own bootstraps, ignores the reality, that he had no bootstraps at all. How do we reach every child who needs us, or are we locked in a struggle of survival of the fittest? Was Robert destined to live the life he had; were the genes passed down from his parents the natural selection for his path? Or if he had received the nurture he deserved, could he had lived a more productive life, one more fitting for a kid?


In the United States of America, we celebrate Thanksgiving Day. It is the busiest travel day of the year as family comes together, bonding over a traditional dinner. Most will offer thanks in prayer, either for good fortune or simply because we are here. But to those who are able, we should also use this time, to assist a child in need, so that they too may be thankful, and enjoy the innocence of their younger years. We each have our own struggles and pain, but most still have something to give.  We may think because we have achieved, all can do the same. But what we ignore, is that there is life on every level, and some are in need of help. If we each offer a little, nurture will fill the gaps of nature, giving all of our children, at least a fighting chance.

– an Opinion from thepublicblogger

The Neighborhood

music, Dey Ant Know, courtesy of just Legend
Celebrate the Boy, from
Syracuse Cultural Workers
 fire hydrant, Ray Ferrer, Emotions on Canvas


28 Comments on “Life on Every Level

  1. Pingback: PARTY OF ONE – The Neighborhood

  2. I spent my Thanksgiving alone sullen because my young children were unable to spend the holiday with me. Thank you for the reminder that all though I have to rotate holidays with my ex there are many children who have no one to spend holidays with and I have better things to do with my time then sit around and sulk! There are plenty of places with volunteer opportunities for me to become involved with that would both benefit a child and brighten my outlook as well.


  3. I was one such child. There were “protective factors” in my life that buffered the ill effects of an abusive childhood/adolescence. My great-grandmother took me to church. At church, I was shown kindness by my elders; I met Jesus-Christ. At school, I was different…so I was bullied and ostracized. But the most important protective factor is “me.” I am gifted with a compassionate and analytical mind that has allowed me to understand the pain and ignorance of my punishers. I am the seed that was thrown into the barren crevice, yet found the will to thrive anyway. I sought after my God and it is Jesus Christ who I have chosen for my role model. In the end, there are three things needed to succeed, which are awareness, understanding, and the will to persevere. It is my goal to help adolescents such as “Yummy” obtain these three things.


  4. I heard a story on NPR the other day about a Japanese man who was switched at birth with another child. He was to have been born into luxury but instead he went into a home filed with loss and poverty and spent his whole life there, despite his “wealthy” genes. Is this proof that Nurture overcomes Nature? Could be. But it’s clear that poverty and lack of opportunities can play a huge role in how we turn out as human beings. Robert Sandifer never had a chance…. and it’s happening to way too many people even in this wonderful, rich country of ours. It’s pathetic and sad and infuriating. So many lives lost to poverty. Sigh…. It makes me weep.
    Thank you for this post.


  5. What is the best and most productive, practical way to help these children? Thank you for this thought provoking read. And ‘The Whole Boy’ photo is wonderful.


  6. Tough trying to get hold of you. Posted on twitter. As a poetry/writer, I would love to collaborate with you. Please see my linked in account to know more about me. Served on committees and a provincial, British Columbia, Canada Advisory Council on Multiculturalism; Note my summary and life experiences. Twenty year volunteer career. lol


  7. Not quite sure where to put a comment to thank you for following my blog and it doesn’t seem really appropriate to put it here but have done so anyway, Obviously. Sometimes it seems to big a job to change society. I guess the key is we each need to stop being lazy,selfish and procrastinating and to start loving our neighbour as Jesus has instructed us. If we each strive to do this in our circle of influence the circles will ripple and get bigger.


  8. us perspective on being of service to others and being thankful. happy thanksgiving


  9. This is a well-writen, thoughtful and timely post. Providing a kind, caring, respectful environment for all our children at times seems to becoming increasingly difficult to provide as through the Internet and social media the roles of the ‘real’ people in children’s life becomes more essential yet more difficult to achieve.


  10. We have a responsibility to each other. This child is not alone in the forgotten society. In a perfect world there would be no cracks through which people get lost. We can only hope and strive for that world before we lose too many of us.


  11. Great post!! We don’t get to choose the family or society that we are born into! Some children (who subsequently grow to adults if they are lucky enough) are much less fortunate than others. We watched a documentary the other day about gender equality, covering different areas of the world! It was an eye-opener how mistreated some people are. It’s certainly has made us so much more aware that the hardships we hear are usually of only a few but the real magnitude is so much greater. It reminds us how fortunate we are and how we should do what we can to make a difference where we can for others for the greater good, no matter how small the action may appear!


  12. A very sad state of affairs and sadly too common. There are too many children who have nobody to help define the positive with them – something quite different to dictating what the positive is.
    Here’s to all the good souls out there, trying to make a difference.

    A very happy Thanks Giving to you sir, and all of your readers.


  13. Very memorable. Words that touched my heart strong. There are too many children in this world who are crying out for a helping hand. It is actually required so little of each of us to stretch out a helping hand. Children are our future. I have 5 children and many many extra children I have given a helping hand. Every child is a gift from God. If you can not cherish the gift should you may not receive the gift. The day you have children, you write on a lifetime contract, to love and guide your child.


  14. Inspiring masterful words carrying true wisdom and hope. Thank you for sharing your insights and healing our hearts to see avenues of possibility. Perhaps, we CAN create positive change in our world just reaching out daily to guide those in most need. I’ve been teaching now for more than twenty years and sometimes cynicism seeps in when I witness things that should not be, your words are a powerful reminder that we all have a part to play, for better or for worse, in simple ways we can be effective in changing our world for the better. Thank you so much for sharing your gift of insight. I think you have been divinely guided to be a light in this world.


  15. (tears) There are still too many Roberts in this world. And that is not even counting the starving Marys. You brought me to my knees again, Kendall.


  16. I think some people need to obtain a parental license before they become a mother or a father. Some just need to show proof of parental sustainability. I’ve seen puppies treated better by the mommy dog of her litter than this boy. Its a no wonder. A child becomes what live. If he lives in a heap, he becomes the heap. Like some of that rap stuff on soundcloud . serious.


  17. Reblogged this on Floyd, Times Are Changin and commented:
    This touches my hearts and I hope we are not all so vain as to not consider the moral of this story. Humaneness! Because these are what the meals are about, not once or twice a year but the gift or hopefulness and the appreciate of, what it is.


  18. Thank you!!! Fantastic blog! I often tell people who have pulled themselves up by the bootstraps, that their bootstraps were the luck of the draw. They could have been born in the poorer parts of Africa, Indonesia or the Philippines. By God’s grace only.

    As to the needy, there are more than just clever sayings, a Thanksgiving Dinner or a Christmas Tree with a few presents. Afterall they cried at the potential loss of Tiny Tim, until the angels (Scrooge’s conscience) took root and when the ghost said, “MANKIND IS YOUR BUSINESS”.

    Because one day we will be like all people. We die! So we do need to make ‘MANKIND” our business because there are too many Roberts, too many judges (Courts and ourselves) and too much hatred in this world.

    Any decent parent would provide for their kids if they could, but a lot of these no-tolerance laws have bred newer generations of hopeless. Too few will even care about Thanksgiving because each day is a challenge. They know at the end of that meal, it is back to gangs and colors and a world without vistas, save for the ambulance or the back of a squad car……


  19. Even if a child has a nature to be rebellious or nonconformist, a positive role model can help shape and direct some of the negative energy into more constructive habits. That’s why I think teachers are so essential, good coaches, Sunday school teachers, youth leaders, neighbors who see a need. There are so many ways of helping by simply keeping our eyes open and reaching out,


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