This blog is dedicated to my first cousin, Jonathon P. Hicks who on Monday, November 3, 2014, departed this earth. Jonathon had been sick for a while so his passing was not unexpected. Still, the dreaded phone call was no less traumatic. No matter how well imagined we are seldom prepared for death.
Jonathon was an extraordinary man of great talent. Fluent in multiple languages he was well-traveled to Africa, England and Germany. Having worked as a news reporter for the New York Times and BET, he was humorous, creative and intelligent, possessed of a dry, somewhat acerbic wit that could amuse, entertain, comfort or wound depending on his mood. No one could use words to greater effect than Jonathon.
But his special gift was a voice that even Luther admired. No matter the event, regardless as to how far he traveled, Jonathon was there to lend that beautiful, amazing tenor to any wedding, funeral or special event. His musical talents were recognized by others as well.
He was the musical director, vocal arranger, vocalist, songwriter and leader of a Christian Men’s Ensemble called Manifest. Produced by real musicians who perfected their craft through years of hard work and diligent practice, who arrange, read and produce music and who can actually sing rather than merely talk, the CD ‘Highest Praise’ is a joy not to be missed. If anything can inspire faith in a higher power, this towering piece of artistry most certainly can.
Jonathon and I grew up together. We were branches of the same tree; sprang from the same well. More importantly, we were members of an institution that is crucial yet so endangered in the black community, i.e., family.
Ours was not a perfect existence. But we were nevertheless enveloped in a loving supportive environment. We were sheltered and protected by an immediate and extended structure that we knew loved us. And we were taught right from wrong, responsibility and consequences, hope and faith.
So when I reflect upon Jonathon, I recall family picnics, holiday gatherings, celebrations and great debates between my father and his, the two intellectual heavyweights of the clan. I experience love, connection and a sense of belonging. I know a pride, dignity and purpose that carry me through the vagaries and difficulties of life. Jonathon is emblematic of the very best in the nuclear and extended family, now more so than ever.
Our cultural salvation lies is the familial institution and the love and support it provides. Public policy therefore demands that we preserve and protect this most sacred institution. And as men, we must be willing to sacrifice; to endure whatever is necessary to provide for and protect those to whom we are committed, even at the cost of our own well-being. If we perish in the process it is a price well worth the paying. All that matters is that we hold up our end as Jonathon held up his.
But even though Jonathon is no longer with us, death is not the end. According to the first law of thermodynamics, energy can neither be created nor destroyed. It can only be changed from one form to another.
Consequently, the kinetic energy of a gentle breeze is transformed by a windmill into mechanical energy, to be converted into electrical energy which next becomes the thermal energy that heats our homes and the incandescent energy that lights the way.
We are powered by energy, the Spark Divine which ignites and unites us all. We are the bio-electric energy of our brain waves and nerve endings, the thermal energy of our bodies, the mechanical energy of our movement, the vibratory energy of our voices and the spiritual concentrate of our souls.
Hence, when our bodies have ceased to function, when our mortal flesh withers and fails, we do not die. Rather, our essence is returned from whence it came to be recycled and reborn as the heart of a star or the Martin Luther King, Abraham Lincoln or Mahatma Gandhi of some galaxy we can only hope to imagine.
The spiritual implications are beyond astounding. We do not expire because we can not perish. We have existed from the moment of creation and always will. Little wonder that Jonathon never bemoaned his situation. He instead faced his fate with an acceptance, grace and strength of character that mirrored his existence.
Cousin was blessed with a full and complete life. He touched the lives of many, loved his family and was in turn loved by family. What more can be asked of a man?
Wherever Jonathan is we pray that the Divine embraces him. We hope that he is joined by family who preceded him, mother, father, grandmother and grandfather, Michael, Bell, Marva, Charles, Dorothy and Carolyn. And we implore that they too are greeted by the entire family of man.
Rest in peace Jonathon, you done good.
Leo Barron Hicks, Founder and CEO
Blackacre Policy Forum