Prior to his assassination, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. embarked on what he called the “Poor People Campaign.” Similarly, prior to his assassination, Malcolm X also began to grow more and more concerned about the need to unite and work together for a common cause. Sadly, both of those men were taken from us before their dreams and goals were realized. I firmly believe that great leaders create leaders and poor leaders create confusion. Today, it seems that we are all drowning in a sea of confusion. Even if it appears as though we are winning, we are actually losing. You see, we are actually coerced by our wants, and consequently, we are ever increasingly becoming slaves to our need to keep, maintain, and ultimately, improve the fruits of our labor. In fact, it seems that we are more concerned with the fruits than the roots. In my opinion, therein exists the problem. For example, I was recently speaking to someone who has a cousin that plays in the National Football League. He went on and on about how powerful his cousin was. In fact, he said that his cousin was so powerful that people rarely objected, disagreed with, or even remotely challenged him. He said that it must be challenging to have “so much power.” Because he was clearly enamored with his cousin, I allowed him his moment. However, in the solace of my own mind, I found myself asking this question; “if your cousin does indeed have so much power, then why does he consistently kneel for a flag that was designed to keep him on his knees?” I tried to dance with issue, but whenever things began to grow honest, his consistent response was, “that’s too deep for me.” I believe that his cousin is rarely challenged by people who need him to provide them with the desires of their hearts. They need him to take care of them in some capacity. I guess it’s true; silence is for sale, but the price isn’t necessarily cheap. It seems that the more successful someone grows, the less they are able to say, feel, and ultimately fight for what they once believed to be true. Many young people label Kendrick Lamar and J. Cole as deep, and I agree with them. However, the harsh reality is the degree of their depth is only commensurate with the depths that their label heads will allow them to go. You see, to some degree, even our cries for freedom in musical form are controlled by the “powers that be” in contractual form. We need to do something different if we want to be, live, accepted, and ultimately, respected differently. Here is the how.
I don’t believe that anyone is above or below. For whatever reason, we often praise people that we regularly see and hear on television, films, social media, and radio. Simply because they exist on those platforms doesn’t mean they are deserving of praise because to a very real degree, those platforms are for their individual improvement rather than societal improvement. In order to heal, grow, and build our society, we must all begin to work together regardless of race, religion, socioeconomic status, education, profession, professional affiliation, state, neighborhood, gender identification, sexual preference, and past experiences. If you have access to much, and you regularly see someone who has nothing, share with them. This way, you can both have something. You just might change their life. If your neighbor doesn’t have access to a car and you have one or more in front of your door, when they need food, medical attention, or occasionally, a ride to work, take them. You just might change their life. If you notice that someone is being verbally, socially, culturally, or religiously trampled upon, speak up for them. You just might change their life. If you have had the opportunity to make it out of a poor community, why not get together with like minded individuals with access to similar resources and rebuild the neighborhood rather than leaving, becoming “brand new,” and ultimately painfully reminded that sometimes it’s not about where you’re at, it’s also where you’re from. You just might change hundreds of lives. If you know there is a school near your residence that has nothing, students are growing apathetic, and high school dropout rates are increasing, volunteer, assist, and work to improve the overall school community. You just might change hundreds to thousands of lives. If you notice that the children in the neighborhood are really good at “twerking,” yet they are either incapable or unwilling to begin working, teach them how to do so. You just might change their lives. If someone calls you a name, rather than insult, fight, or fatally wound them, walk away. My mother was right, if you argue with a fool, there will be two instead of one. Also, as the African Proverb states, “it matters not what you call me, it’s what I answer to that matters.” The government cannot save us. We must save us. Choose Truth. Choose Kindness. Choose Unity. Choose Compassion. Choose Acceptance. Choose Understanding. Choose Empathy. Choose Love. Choose Now. Choose. You just might change the world.
As always, this week, do something to help someone other than yourself for no reason at all than to make their lives better. Also, if you make it to where you’re going, do more than leave a map, leave a rope for our inevitable fall, ointment for our inevitable wounds, and a light for the times that we will inevitably lose our way. Until next time, Patrick.