Tag Archive: Pierce Pettis

It is a legacy

We all have a different legacy.  Our legacy is also exactly the same. Our world is broken and aching.  The way the ache is manifest looks so completely different from community to community that we often are convinced that someone who didn’t grow up with us would never truly understand.  That may be true, but it doesn’t take much to accept that things aren’t the way they should be… and a significant part of our souls are unsettled because of it.  We’re separated, divided, and the way we see the world comes from that reality.  Our brokenness is indoctrinated, packaged, and marketed to us from the point we can comprehend until we’re in the ground.

Pierce Pettis wrote a song many years ago that speaks to one aspect of the brokenness and division.  Legacy is a song that doesn’t show us where we’re broken for the sake to drive a wedge between us, it tries to show us a point where we can come together.  His lyric talks about the bitterness and derision that come from growing up segregated and divided, living in the same community but dealing with the legacy of slavery and the resulting ugly reality of race relations in the Southern United States.  Yet, he points that even though there are hurts and pains and differences, deep down we are the same.

Whenever I hear that song my heart twinges at the reality, and there is a part of me that both wonders how and IF it will ever change.  But, it doesn’t just apply to blacks and whites here in the South.  There are such indoctrinated divisions in the world that go back centuries, and even longer than that.  What is the legacy that we leave the world if we turn a blind eye to the same conflict just dressed up with different accents and different clothes?  How do we show the world that really if we strip down the animosity and angst, that we’re all just fallen and broken people longing and aching for change and healing?

Perhaps I’m an idealist, but I see that we seem to want to hold onto things that tear us apart instead of bring us together.  A large aspect of division comes from the legacy we give to those who come after us.  We often pass down our attitudes and hurts as if they are the only way to look at things.  We pass judgement at the perceived actions and intentions of others and label the entire gender, race, group, family, etc to be such.  We literally teach our children to look at the world as if they’ve suffered our pains and suffered our bruises and breaks.  We don’t want to let go of those places in our lives where we’re at war with ourselves and at war with one another.

I look at my life and see those places throughout the years where I have not be willing or able to let go of those places where I have been hurt.  I assume that others who I have hurt probably do that very same thing.  Imagine if I decided to take those places and develop a mindset that I pass down from generation to generation that everyone like the people who have hurt me are horrible, evil, irresponsible, cruel, and the like.  Imagine what if those around me take up those hurts as their own and walk that path.  Imagine what a legacy that might be…

One quote from Martin Luther King Jr. that resonates within me and yet still haunts me is this one:

“Forgiveness does not mean ignoring what has been done or putting a false
label on an evil act. It means, rather, that the evil act no longer remains as a
barrier to the relationship.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

As long as we pass down division as our legacy, the only thing that we can get as a result is brokenness and division.

The roots run deep.  Why do we give them a chance to grow deeper?


LEGACY —Pierce Pettis

It is a legacy, it was handed down to me
Of a poor dirt farmer, and a skinny mule
He parts the red clay like it was the red sea
It is a legacy to both me and you
You are a black man
I am a white man
We both come from the Southland
Both doing the best we can
Where the grim reaper was my brother’s keeper
The way my brother was kept
Small wonder Jesus wept

It is a legacy passed down to you and me
What we’re taught to believe
We never question these things
It is a legacy, a wild and a bitter seed
Blown across these fertile fields
Where the roots run deep

We both got calloused hands
Blue-collar working men down here in Bubbaland
What’s in a name
Both living rent to rent, some on the government
We are quite different –we are the same

It is a legacy passed down to you and me
What we learn to believe
We never question these things
It is a legacy, a wild and a bitter seed
Blown across these fertile fields
Where the roots run deep

Sundays we congregate
Praise Jesus, pass the plate
Sitting in our Sunday best
Singing hymns and mopping sweat
We learned the golden rule in separate Sunday schools
In a house long divided against itself

And it is a legacy passed down to you and me
What we choose to believe
We dare not question these things
It is a legacy, it’s a wild and a bitter seed
Scattered on these fertile fields
Where the roots run deep


—-all of my family has had significant disconnections from their relatives… mother, father and their families… I wonder if we don’t pass down a legacy just like we pass down hatred and ignorance. 

A friend of mine posted a good set of questions… Melody has challenged me to wonder what kind of legacy that I am leaving.  While this song isn’t about my recent post, it is a reminder that family is important to choose.  And in the kingdom of God, family is who He defines, not us… 


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