As I sit at my computer today I am disgusted with myself more than anything. Not for any decision I’ve made in the wake of Darren Wilson being free to live with no consequences. Not for being in KC and not STL right now. Not for any of the people I’ve wiped from my friends list or delete from my twitter. I’m disgusted with myself because I like many people my age have gone from 19 year olds like Mike to 30-somethings without stepping up to take positions that matter.
We made the choice that we wanted other things. And where has that gotten us? I’ll tell you. A few select members have fought for their spot and do things we all used to dream of. And we jaded, cynical, and disengaged, have left ourselves to pick up the pieces when those leaders, and ones far older than us, let us down.
As I looked at cars burning. And buildings burning. And police standing in riot gear beneath a sign that said season’s greetings I saw something wrong with me. I had taken too long. Yes it is true I faced some adversity in high school and college that changed how long my path to today took, but that isn’t an excuse. It doesn’t account for the things between the day I first decided to lay off and let people be instead of holding their feet to the fire like they did to me.
I think about one time in particular. It was a trivia thing and of course it was boys vs girls because sometimes teachers like to have fun too. I had the answers. Literally every question I knew definitively what the answer was seconds faster than either gender was answering. But after about 6 of my answers being correct, a curious thing happened. Everybody started asking me for the answer. It went from a group of guys vs a group of girls, to Me vs. a group of girls. And I didn’t like it. So I told them to get the answers themselves. Needless to say, the girls metaphorically kicked their teeth in the rest of the game. And I can’t say I didn’t have a bit of satisfaction in that.
I didn’t know then and for a while later that it wasn’t them turning to me for answers that made me upset and disengage. It was the lack of desire on their part to try. They saw a resource, and until that resource said no more, the wanted to abuse that as much as possible. The girls on the other hand worked to support each other.I looked at both methods and found myself thinking, as I have many times since then, why should I even bother? So you can kind of see where I’m going.
I don’t know why, but ever since then I’ve been less inclined to lead my talents to leadership roles until I feel heavy pressure to do so. But I do know that it has been detrimental to have that opinion. Because I know I’m not alone in that. My desire to withdraw from people for reasons we’ve talked about in other posts and on the podcast consumed that internal truth that I should take this pressure as a mandate to refine my skills and lead.
And I have spent much of the time since then not leading. Letting outside pressure guide me to a version of leadership I shouldn’t have been. And that’s where many folks like me are. A place where we just aren’t quite the kinds of leaders we should have been. But know we’ve been running, not just hanging back. I was talking to a friend last night as things burned and people talked about their feelings. He reminded me that if we don’t do something who will? Unlike my friend who is a few years younger than me, I have been just standing idly by and let things happen. Shying away from working in the area even more so than the law, that I excel in.
So the path of Illumination for me begins again. It doesn’t matter what the results I’m waiting on says because my career in the law won’t stop the thing I’m building. Just like it won’t stop from bringing in more writers here. Illumination is a path not a destination, and the just have nothing to fear. But thinking about it all makes me realize that we have hold ourselves accountable for doing more. I say “WE” failed Michael Brown because we made this choice, and instead of bloggers, young owners of PACs, and innovative thinkers who care about the community this has been a problem in coming in with Lawyers and politicians who have position to do something, we fell back on the older generations tactics, and the younger generations apathy.
We failed these last 2 months because there was so much to be done years before now that could have made this not even the beginning of a problem. But we kept the older generations focus on personal gain and entertainment and the younger generations general disregard for others. But we need to wake up. We aren’t hooked on drugs like the generation before us. We aren’t powerless due to age like the generation behind us. We have the power in our hands, but we continue to say “No, I’d rather just be.” We have the dream of doing nothing like in Office Space.
And why? Why do we walk away? Because we saw ourselves being looked to for the answers, and thought it was them trying to use us to get ahead on our talents. But the truth is, this world, this country, your country, your city, your very neighborhood, group of friends, church, school, organization, school board, whatever, is looking for you to lead because they realize they are too old to have the new answers, or too young to have the power to make things work. We have to change that. We have to step up. We have to be the force for solutions. Now, right now. Because we cannot continue to fail. If we do, nothing will be left. So don’t just be sorry for Michael Brown and his family. Don’t just be angry about the injustice. Don’t just hate the system. Let’s do something. The path to illumination starts with a single step. And the just have nothing to fear.
– THE Ruthless Wonder