Savoring the redemptive power of family

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My academic accolades have been something that I’ve always taken pride and satisfaction in, but what I’ve received from the halls of academia pales in comparison to the wisdom that I have procured from my family. Throughout my life my family has always given me something that I would not have had otherwise; unconditional and selfless love, a resource that has saved my life many times over. 

I have been fortunate enough to incorporate the wisdom from my family into my life, using it as a proverbial compass to govern my thoughts and actions (albeit not always successfully). My Grandmother is always apt to say that “People need to get off their rump and do something other than sitting around like a bump on a log”. My grandmother’s mandate always lead me to aspire, not to be that guy on his “rump”. I now find myself wondering if I’ve become complacent, guilty of using “life” as an excuse for not doing what could be done.

The events that have transpired over the past couple of days has lead me back to a conversation that I had with my older brother many years ago during that transitional period where my teenage years were slowly giving way to the advent of young adulthood. I found myself angry at the world and drowning in a sea of emotions at this juncture of my life; dealing with slights both real and imagined.

I’m not sure if the gravity of what he said to me that day was lost on him or if he knows how his words changed the trajectory of my life, but it was as if a shroud was removed from my head, giving me access to the air that was previously denied to me. “Bro, you’re wasting your time being mad at the world, you’ve got to meet people where they’re at, not where you want them to be. Don’t be a dummy, dummy!” and he punctuated it with a searing punch to my chest to ensure that I got it. After my lungs filled back up with air a couple minutes later, I got it…

From that point forward I always tried to push the envelope; reading, listening and entertaining points of view that ran counter to my belief system. Instead of insulating myself from something that could possibly shake what I believed in to its very foundations, I searched it out with a vengeance, which leads me to my epiphany.

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This is the problem with Americans; we want to believe what we have been told that we believe. Is it human nature to preserve that which we believe we “know”, but how well do we really “know” it? Sadly, we don’t want anything to rock the boat, to interfere with the equilibrium that has worked so well for us, but has it really? In the present we seem to be powered by a steady diet of Reality TV, a 24 hour news cycle, faux outrage at the issues that others deem we should be outraged about. It seems that the very act of picking up a book or engaging in intellectual pursuits is an outdated endeavor to be scoffed at.

The end result is divide and conquer, unfortunately people who have more in common than they realize, end up being segmented into warring camps that are unable to see the forest for the trees. Are we really content with sitting our rumps doing nothing, when we should be making an effort to meet people where they are in an effort to understand where they are coming from? On the other hand, it is probably more logical that my epiphany is useless prattle falling on deaf ears.

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