Over the last few weeks, I have had a lot of profound and insightful conversations with many friends and family members. It is no secret that the United States is heading down a very dark and chaotic path. Lives are being lost, trust has been eroded, and an anarchistic doctrine seems to be taking the helm. It’s ironic to see how our evolution as a species and as a race, is bringing about as much spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical destruction as it has advancement. Our anger and our pain, is leading us down a path of ignorance I cannot fathom.
I’m proud to see my country protesting against social injustice, and racial discrimination as their abolishment is long overdue. I’m proud to know that 157 years ago, then president Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. The latter was an action that catalyzed the freedom of millions of African American slaves, which was finalized 155 years ago in Texas on Juneteenth. However, the current state of the world makes me question the veracity of the abolishment of slavery. Yes, our country did abolish the notion of physical slavery, but the actions of our countrymen and women prove that slavery is far from over. Physical freedom has evolved into mental imprisonment. It is so blatantly clear, that we can’t even see it.
A Pertinent Glimpse
Those that know me personally know my story. For the purposes of this article, I’ll try to make it short and sweet. Like many in this country, I was proudly born and raised in the United States of America. I was raised by a workaholic immigrant father, virtually in a single parent household. The rest of my siblings were raised primarily by their mothers. I was separated from my mother at three years old, and at 22 I was informed of her passing. I was never able to meet or talk with her in my adolescence or adulthood. Although I had a few step mothers that I grew fond of over the years, I was never able to look at them as “mom”. Due to the size and decentralization of my nuclear family, my father had to work hard to make ends meet. Although finances weren’t a huge problem, it did have an impact on our sustenance and housing. Government-based welfare programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Food Stamps, aided in keeping food on the table. To the best of my knowledge, throughout my childhood and adolescence I lived at approximately 15 apartments or houses, which included Section 8 housing. I’d be ignorant in saying that my external reality, did not affect my view of the world.
Unbeknownst to many, the surface-level circumstances described above led to me developing a chip on my shoulder as a child, parts of which have followed me into adulthood. I hardly felt like I belonged to anything, due to the decentralized state of my family and the constant moving, creating a lone wolf mentality due to perceived lack of acceptance and camaraderie. Although I received superficial attention from my father, and step-mothers throughout the years, it wasn’t the profound nurturing attention a child needs to feel emotionally secure. Attending public schooling in urban environments with big class sizes did not help. The former and latter led to a deep yearning for love, affection, and attention. All of the above eventually became internalized , to the point where I blamed myself for what I felt I was lacking in my life. Although later in life I realized the multi-layered complexities I faced as a child were not my fault, the chip on my shoulder evolved into self-blame, self-esteem issues, withdrawal, the need to please others, and the chasing of external validation to feel like I was worth something. I felt externally imprisoned by my life, and I felt internally imprisoned by my mind.
The Turning Point
I share the above snippets of emotions I’ve experienced not as cry for sympathy or help, but for clarity into the thoughts of the average American kid raised by immigrant parents within an urban environment. We all have a story, and what we choose to do with it is 100% our responsibility, and no one else’s. I’ve grown to have an optimistically realistic view of life. I actively choose to put myself in the mindset of what I can do to steer my life in the right direction on a daily basis, regardless of the obstacles thrown my way. I’ve evolved from a person that viewed himself as a victim of circumstance, to a combatant who has the ability to work towards overcoming any circumstance. I’ve evolved from a person who was quick to jump to conclusions and condemn another, to viewing things objectively, contextually, and realistically.
I’ve chosen to take ownership of what I can control: myself. I’ve realized that I am not entitled to anything, that the world does not owe me a thing, and that I’ve got to earn my life through ethical, moral, and legal actions every day. Do not get me wrong, I am not a perfect human being who gets everything right 100% of the time. I’l never be perfect, and will never claim to be it either. But I actively choose not to make excuses, take responsibility and accountability for my shortcomings, and seek ways to fight through the discomfort to better myself in the most efficient way I know how. The above described growth mindset was foundational in getting me to where I am today, although there is still much work to be done. So what’s the takeaway from all of this?
We Know Better, So Why Are We Not Doing Better?
The truth is that as a country, although many may mean well, our body, hearts, and minds need to be re-aligned and re-centered. We have devolved into selfishly opinionated ignorant’s who take minimal action when it’s convenient for us, and use any excuse we can to act in an unethical, immoral, or lawless way. We act in the previously described fashion, because of the rights and freedoms our country affords us, because it’s easy to play victim instead of taking responsibility for ourselves, and because we think we are entitled to things we haven’t earned. The scary part about all the above, is that the above mentality does not discriminate. It is found across all places and environments in our country from the destitute to the affluent, from the uneducated to the educated, and from the unemployed to the Chief Executive Officer’s (CEO’s) of highly profitable corporations. We the people, are willingly and voluntarily actively working towards the collapse of our society. Our intellect, comfort, lack of ownership, and judgment has made it so that a utilitarian, ethical, moral, and lawful tribal way of life grounded in facts and objectivity is synonymous with the word impossible.
So what is it going to take for us to keep from reaching the point of no return? When are leaders of all capacities going to realize they were entrusted with their position, not for selfish gain, but rather to serve those they were entrusted to lead? When are communities going to pour their pride into their members with the intent of educating them righteously, and empowering them to set themselves up for success in the future? When are we going to realize that education starts at home, and that without a good family structure backed by a good educational system, we are setting our children up to fail? When are we going to stop acting like we care, and actually come together to communicate effectively, find viable objective solutions to the root cause of all the systemic issues we have, and act towards building community rapport based on love and not hate? When are we going to stop condemning other human beings when the spotlight is on us, then immediately turn around and act unjustly and immorally when no one is looking, further ingraining the hypocrisy and divergence that’s plaguing our society?
Call To Action
On this day, and every day, I am going to challenge you to focus on the only thing that you can control: yourself. I recently heard a quote by Thomas Cooley, that consistently finds itself at the forefront of a few of the podcast shows I listen to regularly: “I am not who you think I am; I am not who I think I am; I am who I think you think I am”. Read it three times. What does it tell you? How many people do you know that TRULY know who they are? People who act based on impregnable grounded principles, and not based on making others feel good around them so that they’ll feel accepted? What do you think that way of thinking cultivates, and how do you think it affects our community and society once it hits the masses? If you can’t lead yourself to happiness, wealth, and prosperity, how can you expect to be able to help another attain the same? So what can you do to release yourself from the mental shackles and live a life worth living?
Invest in Yourself First
You can’t change your family, your community, or the world, unless you have the humility and desire to change yourself first. All leaders are readers. Start reading books on mindset, self-help, and overall health. Don’t know where to start? Check out my book recommendations list. If reading is not your forte, you can also listen to podcasts on the road, while you workout, and at home while your doing your chores. If you don’t know where to start, you can check out my podcast recommendations list. If you don’t feel like reading, or listening to podcasts, you can also physically attend, or take online personal growth and development workshops and seminars. These are subjective to your liking and taste, so I suggest googling what is in your local area or region and see what you find. The end goal here is that you invest time and effort into things that will enable you to expand your knowledge, and grow as a person! Progress over perfection!
Invest in Your Community
Once you have set yourself up for success, via some of the above recommendations, then the next step is to dive into your community. I suggest volunteering at any local organizations or programs that resonate with you. The goal here is to give back to the community, and to build a network of quality service-minded individuals in your life. I would also suggest attending community events, to support the good your community members are already doing! Not only will it be fun, but it will also give you yet another platform to build quality relationships with members who aspire to make positive change as well. Lastly, I would suggest attending local government meetings to hear what your officials are doing for the city, township, borough, or otherwise you live in. It will allow you to get to know your leaders, give you the opportunity to voice your concerns, as well as provide suggestions to make your community better!
Re-frame Your Life’s Arc
This personal growth and development process will enlighten you to see things through a different lens. As such, you will start to view the world, and your life differently. The arc or story you thought you knew about the world will change. The arc or story you thought you knew about yourself will change. You will build a foundation through which you will be able to define yourself, build a grounded belief system, and an objective code of conduct by which to lead your life. As you continue to learn and grow, you’ll be able to Act on, Reflect on, and be Cognizant of the things that will shape your life in alignment to that of our Tribe of Intruists: Individuals committed to bettering themselves everyday, in order to better serve the worldly tribe they belong to!
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Seize the day, seize your life, and we will seize our communal tribe together!