“In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act,” George Orwell said that.
Are we telling each other the truth? Having been in the military, a husband and a father, one of the things I’ve come to realize is some times the truth changes. If you don’t understand that as real, then you’ll soon discover how wrong you are. Wanna bet?
What about: ‘Marriage is forever;’ or ‘You have kids to help you in your old age?’ Has the truth changed about that? What about the statement? ‘Once they leave, they’re gone.’ Evidence shows more and more kids are moving back home, and parents’ attitudes toward ‘allowing’ kids move back in has changed.
Recently my wife and I talked about all the false help I see being provided by various groups to people in someone else’s backyard. I mean why should I pay to send someone to Chicago to help someone on the south side when I could help someone down the street? Or why should I encourage my son to go on another mission trip to Louisiana when he could assist someone in South Texas or any one of the local shelters here in San Antonio?
I didn’t really have an answer to that question. Rather than thinking I was right, I listened and began to hear something else she was saying. Why be critical if they are doing something? Why be critical if it’s just not what I would do? Why be critical indeed? Sometime our criticism becomes an obstacle or log in our eyes as we judge our fellowman …particularly those of us who are Christian. Her point? They were doing something.
But there was more to it than that. As I thought over this, I realized the truth Orwell was talking about really concerned itself with the idea of help. People help those who need help. Using an old ‘Temptations’ group song to make my point, if people are “too proud to beg for your sympathy,” then why not help those who want help. And how do we know those who want help…generally it’s those people who ask. That’s when truth comes in. That’s when things become revolutionary. That’s where we sometimes screw up.
In their desire to help, people sometimes forget to be empathetic. They forget about where people come from, or what they have endured. People think their definition of truth is the only truth. Culture and background are swept away with the brush and debris by the mops, rakes and broom they use to clean. They come in to clear and rebuild without getting dirty. Volunteers come for a few days, weeks or months, and then leave to go home. Granted they may take a little bit of an experience they will jot on a resume and say it changed their lives. But if they go back to being who they were before…why bother?
New Orleans and Chicago are just a few isolated places people go to help. In many cases, the people doing the helping are culturally different, and to a degree, think they are better. So they go to these venues to help, and come away not really changed because they don’t go with an ear to listen. People hear what Reverend Jeremiah Wright said, but they miss the underpinning of his message because they are too near the reality that some of what he says might be true. People will read this and all they will read is I said Jeremiah Wright spoke the truth, NOT that I only said some of what he said was true.
Listen to what LaSalle Sin said in the movie “Be Cool,” when told to be quiet with an epithet many blacks in today’s society have been called. LaSalle asks his antagonist, “Have you lost your mind? I mean how is it you can disrespect a man’s ethnicity when you know we have influenced nearly every facet of white America? From our music to our style of dress not to mention your basic imitation of our sense of cool, walk, talk, dress, mannerism. We enrich your very existence all the while contributing to the Gross National Product through our achievements in corporate America. It’s these conceits that comfort me when I am faced with the ignorant, cowardly, bitter and bigoted who have no talent and no guts. People like you who desecrate things they don’t understand when the truth is, you should say ‘Thank you man, and go on about your way.’ But apparently you are incapable of doing that.”
It’s a wonderful movie. It’s funny. It’s entertaining, and it makes you think as LaSalle also adds, “Racial epithets why does it always come down to that? It makes me sad for my daughter.”
That truth makes me sad also. I feel sad for my sons. No matter what people say, culture drives everything. Nevertheless, many refuse to acknowledge that. Whether it’s the fact, many of our white women teachers admit to being afraid in classes heavily populated by African-American or Hispanic boys; or that many of our young boys know that no matter how they dress, where they live, or how they speak, they will rarely be judged by the “content of their character.” And as a man, no matter how hard I strive to give my family what the Jones’ have, I know if the Jones’ are a shade lighter than I am I still have to compete twice as hard to be just as good. It’s a fact! Have we, those of us who are black, forgotten this? That’s a truth, even if we have the most votes in this country doesn’t mean we’ll win an election. We may have a person of color running for president, but many of us have forgotten what it took to get there, and many of us won’t even vote for Obama because we refuse to help him get there because he’s not white, therefore only half as good.
The truths people once understood have not changed, they just got reformatted and right now many of us need to be rebooted to understand education is still the way to change. Education equalized things because those who were looked upon as being disadvantaged once upon a time worked harder, rather than atrophied on the charity of those who feel good about their volunteerism. Men, it’s about time we accept this as truth again, if we want our boys to become men, and that truth should revolutionize a lot of current thinking for future fathers.
“Yes, but friends can often get friends to do things they won’t even do for family.“
from Jere Myles’ book “Murder on the Pier”