So this is my first blog entry here on Mojo and I figured I might as well make it a good one. I have blogged on other various sites, the usual Myspace bite and a little on Facebook, but am hoping to find a new release here.
It is interesting to judge ones life through their own eyes. I often times find myself wondering about the lives of others. And I often times try to display what they see in their world through my own thoughts. Having lived in so many different places, I guess I have sort of made it a part of my routine. When I first meet a group of people, I am often times the guy that is off to the side observing. I then explore the different personalities of the people that I am with. I know I have a story for almost everyone, and not because I am conceded or because I feel like I am able to relate to everyone, but because by sharing a certain type of story with people, I have found that they will open up to you.
I guess I first developed this when I was working in Louisiana. The hurricanes and destroyed everything and I was placed in a situation where I was asked to assist youth and their families that had been displaced by the storms. I could not even begin to relate to these people, because I had never had everything taken away from me with out a say in the matter. So what I did was remove myself from my comfort zone, and I attempted to live how they live. I left everything behind and I walked their life for a month. Not owning anything, not even my cell phone was in my name, and I lived. I tried to go to school like them, and was turned down. I tried to get food from the local shelter, and I was turned down. I tried to get on the bus for free to have a job interview, and I was turned down. I was them, I blended in, and that is when I realized how I could truly help them.
At the time I was a site supervisor for a temporary community in Bakersville, Louisiana. It was run by FEMA but I was contracted in by a non-profit, because the work I had pledged to do was strictly voluntary. I realized that these kids and their families needed schools, free buses, and free meals. And it was not a new idea, in fact it had been promised by FEMA when the community first opened. And so I made it my mission to get these things for this community. And in the process, as things were being given, other things were taken away. And I remember thinking to myself, “Who on Earth has earned the right to deliver such an injustice?” Not knowing who, but assuming who, I fought that system. The system that my ancestors actually set up, the power system that is in this country, the white power system. So I was fighting “the man.” And “the man” was winning.
THe children in this community, they were never intended to have an education. They were never meant to know a better way of life. Their lives were already set in stone. They were to sell drugs and kill one another and steal and cheat and either end up in prison or be killed before they hit puberty. And I remember one child in particular, and his name was Troy. Troy changed my life. Troy is the reason that I can say to you now that I do the work I do because in someone’s life, I am making a difference. Troy was only seven when I knew him back then. He was the oldest person in his family. And it was him and his little brother, who was five. They had survived the water surge in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans and they had watched as every member of their family either drowned or was murdered. And yet Troy smiled and showed up to the class I would run at the community every night with a high five and a word of wisdom. He taught me that nothing in this life was ever truly fair, but that it was what we did with the adversity that made us winners or losers.
He inspires me. Every single day I think about Troy. And as I work to effect change in this community of Indianapolis that I have been so honored to be asked to serve in, I look back at my days with Troy. And I apply what he taught me to the kids that walk in my room every day. They realize that I am there for them, not for me. A lot of people can say that they volunteered at one thing or another, but I don’t know that many people that will say that they did it just because they knew it would save one childs life. So often in this country we focus too much on what every one else is doing, saying, watching, listening to, or playing and cheering for. And we lose site of the fact that we have to help each other. That with out each other, there is nothing. And the millions of kids in this world today that wont know how to read in their entire lifetime, we have to remember that they wont be able to read because we created a system that allowed for it. We created a system that says it is ok to only care about yourself. We created a system that told us we could beat one another down. I work to change that system. I ask you to work to change that system as well. And while this wont be my last post today, and it wont be my last post this weekend, it is one that I care about dearly, because I think we all need to re-evaluate the way we treat one another. Because as you walk down the street today, you will pass a hundred people with one idea that is just like yours. But with out stepping out of our shells, we will never know that.
I say be outraged, but I also say be outraged with a purpose. Don’t just get mad, do something about it!