“It’s never ’bout the money ‘cuz I burn bread. It’s the principalities like Big Worm said” — Fabolous
Some people get so caught up with the dollars. I couldn’t care less about what my bank account said if I knew I lived in a nation that cared enough to make sure that I didn’t ever lose it all. I’ve been there and I can say that pursuing happiness can be pretty tough when you can’t pay your rent/mortgage, don’t have health insurance, and are working a job you hate just to make ends meet.
Bankruptcy and poor credit don’t only affect those whose names they are attached to, but also the people attached to those names. Families get evicted, children lose memories as a result of going from home to home, and those things that could’ve grown to mean the world to a person end up in a storage auction never to be seen again. Or, worse, uninsured people enter a hospital only to be told they will be helped only to a certain level and, after that, they’re on their own. What makes any one human more or less deserving than another to receive quality medical care, housing, or nourishment?
America, if you take anything at all from this blog, know that it’s not about the money. It’s never been about the money. Money just provides security. But what if (imagine this…) community provided security? What if we didn’t let our neighbors slip through the cracks? Or if we buy things to fill the voids we created by not giving our family time? What if we taught integrity before integers? We shouldn’t be privatizing education. Actually, we should be doing the opposite and equally distributing the resources that elite institutions (private and public alike) have.
If we want to make America great in the truest sense, we have to teach love and empathy. Yes, we have to take care of our own households but who will really want to kill us when we show them love? Proposing a truce (within reason) isn’t weak in the eyes of anyone who doesn’t subscribe to a toxic school of thought. I am a vocal proponent of self-defense but let’s have a little faith in God’s ability to put the humanity in mankind. And, in our everyday lives, let’s exhibit that humanity. We should not let anyone be homeless or hungry. Our children ought not learn untruths that the school system teaches. We can change this world together, one neighbor at a time.
And if you think me telling you to love your neighbor is too political, you probably don’t understand the denotation of the word “politics.” But there’s a wonderful book someone put together once that’ll explain that to you if need be.
Make money an avenue to improve the world as opposed to a goal in and of itself.
The older we get, the more difficult it is to break away from the hustle and bustle of every day life. That has always been the case; the more responsibility you take on, the less time you spend enjoying your days. Now, throw in technology and you have a real lack of necessary human interaction. Online social networks are virtually satisfying but they don’t fill the void many of us have by engaging in an authentic fashion with our companions on this journey called life. That lack of interaction plays heavily into the degeneration of our society. While we were once on trajectory to break down walls of inequality and bias, we have come so far that we have replaced the desire to connect with others outside of a virtual setting. But desire and need are two very different things. We still need one another. We need to shake hands, hug, and feel the warmth of another’s smile. While some of that can be maintained for briefly through a screen, none of it can be created in virtual spaces. We must look at one another, share a cup of coffee or whiskey or wine or whatever, and hear the other person’s stories.
Finding the right space for you is very much like dating (Haha… I have never dated as an adult but I understand it conceptually): sometimes, you hit a home run the first time to bat and, other times, you give the other pitcher a nine-inning no-hitter (I also never played baseball but I understand it conceptually). I’m somewhere in the middle. Since I moved back to Durham 4 years ago, I have looked for the right social group. Every one I’ve connected with, from the runners’ group to the young black professionals’ GroupMe, has offered a piece of what I needed but something has been missing. Last night, I think I found what I needed. I’ll let you all know when I know.
I say that to say, find what you need. Find a space where you can connect authentically with people who inspire you to continue developing yourself.
Make finding authentic connections a priority.
Tonight, I was out at Home Goods with Desirée and my father-in-law, Dwight. Just as we were getting ready to leave, we ran into my dad’s oldest first cousin. He told me that he’s proud of me. He said he sees me on Facebook making moves. While most people say that and are talking about my traveling, his focal point was the wisdom that I am passing on via The Daniels Daily Reader.
I appreciate the fact that I made my cousin proud because that’s only a stone’s throw from my dad. And it means that my writing is not in vain.
Keep moving toward the mark. You never know who is inspired by the energy you’re putting out into the universe.
Make living in your purpose a priority.
When is the last time you had a thought-provoking conversation? These days, I find life happening so rapidly that I don’t know when my next good convo is coming nor who it will be with. I can usually count on between four and five a month (outside of home or work), between chatting with Sean, Maul, Vince, C.B.3, Juju, and Barry. While that’s more than many people I know have, I miss undergrad and the think tank known as UNCG. I vividly recall going to the basements of Reynolds and Phillips-Hawkins to talk with other students from the wee hours of the morning until the sun came up. Or there were the countless times that the long hand on the clock hit the same spot two or three times as I sat in the cafeteria chatting with Devon or Jakiya.
Ideas flowed freely in college. We had time to think without the burdens that we would come to find accompany adulthood. We didn’t have to worry about bills. The only consequence to quitting jobs at that point for many was having to mooch for more hooch, a favor that would eventually be repaid when our generous friend quit his/her job and we were reemployed.
We have to create that free thought as (true) adults. Some people say childhood is the best time of lifetimes but I challenge that; College, for those of us who are privileged enough to go, is the best era. It is when we can be idealistic while having some semblance of control over our lives. No one can tell us when to go to bed, when to come home, or who to hang out with. We go into classrooms with people of all backgrounds and debate issues that actually matter but have been written off by the world because too much of the world doesn’t believe in happiness and change anymore. Life in college is inspiring.
My challenge to you is to make time to grab coffee or a drink with a friend who brings the best out of you sometime before the end of July. If you can’t get together because of distance, hop on the phone. Either way, without forcing it, make an effort to have an organic conversation with someone that you know feels comfortable challenging you and vice versa. Share what books you’re reading. Talk about politics, socioeconomics, and current events (without dwelling too long on the depressing state of affairs unless you’re figuring out a way to positively impact them). Discuss a business idea and have your friend shoot holes through it.
One of the many true things I learned from my fraternity is that, “college days swiftly pass, imbued with memories fond.” How can we keep those memories coming for years after?
Make free thought that stems from conversations a priority.
Five days ago, I posted a screenshot to Facebook about the fact that the President of South Africa is planning to confiscate land from whites in South Africa and redistribute it to black South Africans. The conversation since I posted it has been interesting, to say the least. I won’t get into the back and forth as much as I will say that, when posting things that could be offensive to some (which accounts for almost everything these days), don’t be afraid. The truth is the truth. If you believe that imperialism and colonialism are wrong, say that. If you believe that a culture that promotes rape (of enslaved people or anyone else) is wrong, say that. If you believe that any form of supremacy is wrong, say that. And, if you believe there are exceptions to those things, say that too. But, before you say any of these things, put yourself in your opposition’s shoes. While it is important to see where others are coming from, ask if they’re looking at the situation objectively or from a perspective of pride in their ancestors. Because, though there is value in seeing how someone could get to see things the wrong way, there is more value in helping them to see it correctly.
I’m doing both; seeing things objectively and with pride in my bloodline. Africans enslaving Africans was wrong and still is. But, in the words of Meek Mill, “it’s levels to this,” and Europeans enslaving Africans who had virtually no chance to return home and then carving up the continent like a Thanksgiving turkey was one of the most evil acts of literal and cultural genocide known to mankind. So, excuse me for not conceding to the generally accepted Western consensus that some kind of statute of limitations for the hell Africa and those in the diaspora still suffer from has passed. Actually, don’t excuse me. I don’t desire the respect of those who think reparations of some kind are not in order because, to see worth in your respect I would have to find value in your integrity.
I am an unapologetic, proud man of the Lost Tribe before I’m an American professional. No matter what, that will always be.
Make neutralizing the dominant narrative a priority.
Getting there, wherever “there” may be, is nowhere near as easy as staying there. You have to remain committed, steadfast, and focused. You have to read, reflect, and take action. Surround yourself with people who are better at what you do than you are.
Make professional development a priority.
On Saturday, I took a walk around the Denver Botanic Gardens and I snapped a certain photograph twice. On my camera, I changed the aperture, a function that determines how much light is let into the lens. The difference is evident in the picture above.
Now, seeing that photograph, I must ask you to take a look at your life and ask, “How much light am I allowing in my life?” Is your circle dimming your picture? If so, it may be time to allow more light in. More positivity never hurt anyone. You have a beautiful image to show the world. You just have to get your exposure right.
Make positivity a priority.