It’s common knowledge that Humpty Dumpty fell and couldn’t be put together again. Rev. Richard Bullard says the question for “the Humpty Dumpty people” of Pine Bluff is: “Do you want to get up and get back on the wall?”
Bullard, pastor of Grace Evangelical Baptist Church and an adjunct professor at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, said he was employing the nursery rhyme to help illustrate his thoughts on the current state of affairs here. He made his remarks as a guest speaker at Thursday’s West Pine Bluff Rotary Club meeting.
“Humpty Dumpty had a problem,” Bullard said. “He fell off the wall, a position of honor. However, the real problem for Mr. Humpty Dumpty was not that he fell. We all fall down. The problem for Mr. Dumpty was his reliance upon the governmental power, all the king’s horses, and that governmental programs, by all the king’s men, to put Mr. Humpty Dumpty back together had failed.”
Bullard referenced Pine Bluff’s past “glory days” when the city had the second-largest municipal population in the state, Pine Bluff High School boasted of Arkansas “largest undergraduate student body,” and UAPB and Cedar Street — now University Avenue — were mainstays of a “bustling, thriving business district that provided economic and social stability” for the area’s residents.
“However, today we have become a relic of our past,” he said. “We might say that we are like Humpty Dumpty. We fell down. The question is not why we fell, but how do we get back up?
“Lately I’ve listened and read much about different factions and organizations who trumpet rhetoric, saying, ‘Take back Pine Bluff,’” he continued.
He said those “who stir up the community with such rhetoric” may share Humpty Dumpty’s philosophy of “Maybe if I had political power, the king’s horses, and influential political friends, the king’s men, we could fix our city with political power,” and “We can take it back from the group that took it from us.” Bullard believes those two thoughts constitute a formula for failure.
He said “the king’s horses and men tend to argue” on issues that often aren’t of real importance beyond false pride and ego.
Bullard believes the city has developed a “Humpty Dumpty attitude” that is “down about our city” as residents “talk down to” and “look down upon” one another with “a significant number of our citizens acting low down against each other.”
He said citizens “look to outside and external forces to do for us what we are not willing to do for ourselves.”
The minister believes “the true task of resurrecting out city cannot be structured in a focus of ‘taking back’ because that implies blame, aggression and fault-finding.”
So, what is the answer to revitalizing Pine Bluff?
“We must change our rhetoric and our understanding,” he said, adding the Albert Einstein quote, “The difficult problems we face today cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.”
He referenced the Bible as a blueprint, quoting Psalms 127:1-5. “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it,” he said, continuing with a notation that “Children are a heritage from the Lord.”
Bullard said it’s a “rewarding experience to see what our children can do if given the challenge and opportunity,” and that working to ensure a healthy future for the city’s youth is paramount to the city’s return to its past prestige.
He said the city must stop “thinking, speaking and living” negatively and change those trends to nourishing habits. He also believes that Biblical awareness and “spiritual understanding and intelligence” are keys to residents becoming “channels of blessings.” He said children must be seen and accepted “as blessings” and parents and other adults must orchestrate the proper tone by “embracing all our people as potential contributors” to community growth.
That line of thinking, he said, should extend to acceptance of other races, religions and perspectives with a “responsibility to work together, speaking truth in love.”