In my last entry, "A Promise Made," I talked about a few of the events in my life that led to my making a promise to myself and others that I would not allow selfish, mean people cause harm to people who couldn't defend themselves. The events were recalled to the best of my ability and, to my knowledge, are not exaggerated. Much more happened to me as a child, but I felt that these were the most representative of my overall childhood experience. I used them simply to make a point that even in a harsh, harmful environment, people can still see through the scum on the windows and realize that the sun is shining outside. That said, I never want to give the impression that my childhood was one long episode of hell. If you have read my previous posts, you are aware that I have had the blessing of people in my life who loved and guided me well. It is from having these people around me that I learned a principle that has played a part in my attempt to keep the Promise thus far in my life.
One would think that this kind of promise made as a broken child would lead me to become a defense lawyer or activist or some other type of "white knight," holding high the standard of justice for all to see. Perhaps I could have gone that route (grades notwithstanding), but that just never seemed to be my style. Instead, I kept my eyes and ears open. It isn't something that can be explained, but there was always a feeling, a hint, that as time went by that more knowledge and understanding would come to me and that everything would be okay. I always felt that God had His hand in my life and was protecting me. Looking back, I can clearly see that things could have been much worse than they were for me; I will never doubt the idea of Providence.
As I grew older and survived the terrible awkwardness of adolescence and the even worse affliction of that boundless arrogance that comes with young adulthood, a picture began to form in my mind of how I might be able to keep the Promise and become of some actual use to the planet. It occurred to me that the reason I wasn't a drug-addicted criminal or a robber or rapist or thief was that there were people in my life who served as a barrier against such wrong turns. What I came to realize was that just a little bit of love can go a long way toward bringing a kid up right. Anyone who knows me well has probably heard me say (more than once, I'd bet) that "just one or two good people" in a kid's life can make all the difference in the world. If you doubt this, ask anyone who came out of difficult circumstances and made something of himself. You will most certainly hear stories about a person or persons in his life who saw him as a valuable individual with potential.
My point in all this rambling is this: If you're capable of being aware of the people around you - even if you're damaged goods like I am - you can spot kids who need an anchor in their lives. If you can and do, you have a responsibility. You read me right. If you can see the need in a kid, you have the job of telling him that he has value, and that you can see it, and that you believe in him. Then you should actually believe in him. If he messes up, tell him that it's okay, you've done the very same thing (you have, admit it) and it's not the end of the world. If more young people can see that doing something stupid or imperfectly doesn't result in everyone around them trying to take them out like a pack of wild dogs, they'll be more willing to get up and try again. And they'll later become that person to someone else, the person who believes. This isn't a new idea. Don't believe me? Look here.
I never know if my ramblings are cogent enough to get my point across, but I hope they do. I believe that one of the main objectives in this life is to learn how to live outside of ourselves. If you study any of the world's major religions you will find that this is one of their main overriding principles. Looking beyond ourselves and reaching out to others makes us better. I'm working on it. Are you?
The last post I wrote apparently took a lot out of me, because it's been a month since I last posted. A dear friend recently sent me some encouragement in an instant message that said "Blog! BLOOOOGG!" Thank you, JDK, for the gentle reminder.