Skip to content

Hate. Anger. Outrage

I hate walking into a room for a specific reason only to forget that reason once I get there. I get angry when people refuse to let me enter a lane or out of a parking lot. I’d say both the words and expressions of hate and anger are so commonly used, that they are a normal part of our daily existence. 

The problems arise once we allow these concepts, these emotions to be applied and directed towards people. Don’t get me wrong, I know that ex of yours is a person you’ve learned to hate, with a valid reason, but I’m talking about those that generalize that hate and anger to specific groups, or individuals. 

You know the phrase, “all men are…” but do you see how quickly a phrase that was once used in jest has morphed into common practice of racism and overgeneralization. Before you know it even the most well-intentioned Democrat is talking, “all Republicans are…” just as they once preached at the other party for doing the same. 

There is more than enough hate and anger from every side, party, and racial demographic, I have no desire to banter who is to blame or who is more wrong. What I find most interesting as I watch everyone act and react to what’s going on in our world right now is not so much the hate and anger, we’ve seen this, I’m more fascinated by the “outrage.”

What do we say right now when you’ve been that open-minded friend that’s never had an issue with any of the cultural diverse friends in your circle waking up to their outrage over monuments linked to slavery being taken down and then suddenly they type a manifesto on how we’re destroying the country and how our nation is in chaos?!?!

I hate it when people, the same people that deflect, ignore, and gloss over the deaths of countless minorities at the hands of law enforcement (even civilians) but get socially conscious when it comes to defending “tradition.” I’m angered by the gall and pretense of these individuals who’d like you to believe that they care about all lives. I’m outraged by “their outrage” their hypocrisy, their disconnect from humanity. 

How do we allow ourselves to convey our hate? How do we express or appropriately deal with our anger? There is more than enough outrage at the moment, but how can we share it without only contributing to more of the same cycle of outrage anger and hate? While we all undoubtedly have an opinion on the solution we can perhaps agree that “being angry” alone isn’t the issue, nor is “being outraged.” 

We can’t allow hate to rationalize our prejudices and justify our anger and outrage to the point that we’re only making the same noise of the very people we hope to change or influence. If we do so what will ever change, what then is our real influence? I don’t speak these words because I love the sound of my voice, nor do I try to preach to anyone because I too am outraged, and angry, but I just choose not to be consumed by hate! 

Challenge the hate in others without triggering your issues with hate. Confront the misguided anger without having your unconfronted anger exposed. We can’t overcome misguided outrage with misguided outrage. For those of us with lofty goals of changing the world, we must start with the more achievable goal of creating that change by changing ourselves. 

Pride and Prejudice

Our society is drowning from an oversaturation of hate right now. Not only is anger and frustration at a boil right now, but to make matters worse is the irony of who is angry and why! Minorities and their supporters are angry over our nation’s social acceptance of the killing of minorities and the other side is upset at the very nerve of our anger and frustration.

Our very attempt to protest is conveniently mashed up and associated with rioting and looting, and any time we make any valid point as a people against these killings our voices are countered with talk about “black on black crime” as if the acts of criminals are the responsibility of the entire law-abiding Black community.

If the “All lives” and “Blue lives” communities respectively argue that the acts of a few “bad cops” shouldn’t take away from the responsible cops that “do their jobs the right way” why can’t these same folks understand that not all unarmed minorities killed by police, were “criminals,” had a record or deserved to be killed for a minor infraction?!?!?

I understand the mentality, If you can rationalize that “we’re all criminals” or somehow “deserved it” then they can sleep easier knowing that they’re still decent people. Not only do I dispute the notion that decent people think like this, I argue that White suspects have committed mass killings, yet managed to be taken alive. That entire “feared for their life” defense is destroyed when officers engage “armed” White suspects after they’ve taken lives, yet manage to take them into custody alive.

Even when we hear our media outlets discuss tragedies around the world, we only report the news in terms of how many “American lives” were lost in these tragic events. Well, 9 American lives were taken in a Charleston church, on American soil, but was our outrage subdued because they were “African American” lives?? Why are so many non-minority groups put-off by the notion that African American’s and those who support their cause feel that America must acknowledge that Black lives matter?!?!

2 decades after the acquittal of the officers who beat Rodney King the acquittal of a civilian who murdered Trayvon Martin sparked a movement to declare to all that “we” matter, but society has managed to demean, diminish and take the focus off of the message by interjecting, reframing the narrative and in the process, inadvertently reaffirming the very need for the movement.

The subterfuge and misinformation will not stop those of us who are “woke.” We’re able to know the difference between a peaceful protest and a riot. We are capable of recognizing a Black athlete’s (or any athletes) right to kneel and simultaneously recognize another’s rights to stand. We know our country’s history. We’ve marched for freedom and equality and were called “agitators.”

My ancestors were shackled, chained, and whipped, but it wasn’t a crime, we were your property. You wrote letters declaring that “all men were created equal” but left my ancestors enslaved as you bartered compromises to continue to subjugate my people into bondage. When our prophets, poets, and leaders tried to instill and remind us to take pride in our “Blackness” our true heritage, the oppressors tried to turn this into a negative, and equivalate being “Black and Proud” into the same as “White-Power!”

Any educated person, with an ounce of integrity and the courage to speak the truth, can see that the easiest way to vilify the Black man is to dehumanize him enough to get even the most seemingly sensible, law-abiding White person to rationalize the prejudice, justify the hate. As a Black man living in 2020, I truly don’t know what’s worse, chronicling our countries rich history of slavery and systemic racism or living in the reality that it is still very much a part of our current society?!?!

Despite our anger, we should gleam with a sense of pride, our resolve to remind ourselves and declare to others, that Black lives matter. Through indifference, despite the noise and the rhetoric we matter. We matter, not just because of the most recent sons and daughters whose lives were suddenly taken, but we matter still because of all the names and stories that society has long forgotten.

I’m angry and frustrated today, but I must speak and represent the strength and poise of our forefathers who’ve already shown us who we are and the greatness that lies within us still. Even in the face of racial prejudice, I am Black, I am proud and my life and the lives of my sons and my daughter most definitely matter!

Ephesians 4:26

“The burden of the brutalized is not to comfort the bystander” I felt every word of the Jessie Williams short, yet profoundly powerful speech he gave at the 2016 B.E.T. Awards show. Perhaps the saddest fact of those reverberating words on our nation’s unwillingness to end the senseless killing of unarmed minorities is the fact that since then the heavens have expanded with many more souls whose blood bear witness to these crimes against humanity. Perhaps the only thing worse than the silence from those law enforcement officials whose failure to react in the face of the violence perpetrated upon the innocent is the failures of officials, politicians, even average citizens in society who remain silent on the killings but find the courage to speak to share their outrage over the riots.

Williams completed his initial point by stating, “If you have a critique for the resistance, for our resistance, then you better have an established record of critique of our oppression.” Why does society expect more decorum and civility from an overburdened, angry and neglected society than they demand from paid public servants, the same public servants who keep murdering the very individuals they are supposed to be protecting? How can any civilized society remain willfully ignorant and deny the systemic plague of racism in this country when far too many of its law enforcement officials, politicians, and average citizens remain silent on the issue of police brutality? Why is it more convenient for some to find their voices, their causes in denouncing protests, and making excuses for these officers all while remaining silent on the very “systemic oppression” itself.

Don’t even get me started with the talking-heads that put more energy into deflecting the issues of brutality entirely by injecting the notion that African Americans protest police brutality, but they make us responsible for “black on black” crime. I’ll say this one more time for the uneducated and willfully ignorant. “Black on black crime” is not the responsibility of the African American community; it’s an issue of a criminal element within the community that preys upon the community itself. Please anonymous social media contributors hear me out on this one. If you have the capacity and intelligence to post that “not all members of law enforcement are racist or commit these crimes against unarmed minorities” then muster some of that same objectivity when it comes to the unarmed victims in this ongoing saga!

It’s funny how so many can be so “disconnected” from the victims, the individuals whose lives were taken, their families who mourn, yet find the courage to critique an outraged public, those who riot, loot. Feeble-minded sheep are so easily led astray. Listen, I fully understand how “looting” and “rioting” seem pointless, and don’t honor those who lost their lives, but what I find disingenuous is many of the pretentious voices who love to lecture the disenfranchised on this issue always focus on their ethnocentric view of the world without ever attaining empathy beyond their slanted perspective.

I get what Mr. Williams was trying to say that day. It’s not only counterproductive but it’s not genuine to have the same voices that ignore the oppression and minimize the abuse to wax philosophical about how to best honor the victims, the same victims whose cries, whose very blood they fail to even acknowledge. To all those who love to reframe the narrative and try to help the disgruntled see clearly amid the anger and frustration, just stop. I don’t want to hear about how looting and ransacking supermarkets don’t honor the dead (and it doesn’t) but why is it so easy to shift the focus from “why” this anger has engulfed so many, why is it so easy to shift focus to the behavior of the angry and frustrated and fail to speak on the action and behavior of the individuals who kill and the system that not only fails to hold them accountable but allows it to continue.

What I find extremely troubling is how familiar this epidemic of killing unarmed minorities has become. Each case is so similar that we often mistake one case for another. How many of you have ever been engaged in talking about one case when the person you’re talking to starts mixing in facts from another case?? The other day I was talking to my wife about the Ahmaud Arbery killing in Atlanta which had just begun to get major media attention just when I began to see the George Floyd case being circulated on social media. As I tried to process what I had just read about the Arbery case I had to now add to it the new information I was reading as I saw the pictures of the officer with his knee on the neck of Floyd!

I wasn’t even able to fully process the Arbery killing and then I had my senses overwhelmed by the images of the Floyd pictures. As this is happening in that very moment my wife informs me that she had just read a story in which an African American female EMT, Breonna Taylor, 26, was shot and killed by police who were serving a warrant to the wrong address and fired 20 shots into her apartment hitting a sleeping Taylor 8 times! I don’t have to share with you the small detail that the young woman had been on the front lines helping to battle the coronavirus but in the wake of her killing that fact should be noted for those like me, who have the misfortune of only getting to know who she was while researching about her senseless murder. But you’re right, rioting, and looting solves nothing, but just as true as that statement is there exists a mindset that believes the problem is social media circulating these stories and not the underlying issue of the killings themselves!
I’m angry, tired, frustrated, afraid, hurt and I’m using one of the only things I know that will help me process what I’m feeling at this moment. We live in a world in which mass shooters like Patrick Crusius, James Holmes, and Dylann Roof, all non-minorities who violently killed multiple people, yet all managed to be taken alive and into custody without incident! This isn’t merely an issue of the tactical officers being trained differently, because how can you explain officers who are trained to eliminate REAL threats by perpetrators who have taken human lives being able to assess, at the moment how to apprehend a violent, armed offender without shooting him while unarmed minorities potentially lose their lives in at a routine traffic stop!!!

How is it possible that in 2020 I could be accused of “race-baiting” and unfriended by some people in my circle by merely speaking this truth?? I hate those voices of reason that try to suggest that we take away something positive from each of these tragedies. Only in America can a privileged few be afforded the right to protest a Government lockdown with firearms and openly use their voice and pound their chest as “proud Americans” while minorities are expected to stay in their lane, be civil, and comply with the system. It unnerves me in the wake of more killings that minorities are expected to comply and accept abuse all while privileged Americans are unashamed to boldly display their defiance to even comply with the Federal Government.

For over 10 years I’ve worked in the mental health-related field providing both counseling, case management, and social work for families and individuals who often have both law enforcement and DHS history. Many of these individuals have records; some of them have a very violent past. As a professional, I find it cruelly ironic that although I work and have worked with so many clients with a history of violence, as a professional I’ve felt much more fear over “what could happen to me while interacting with members of law enforcement than I’ve ever felt in the capacity of doing my job. Why is that?

I’m not old enough to have lived through the turbulent civil unrest of the ’60s but I have lived through the systemic era of racial profiling from my early 20’s where my friends and I were routinely stopped and harassed by the police just to ask where we were going??? As a professional, I’ve been stopped and harassed by the police while working as a social worker. the officer followed me as I left an apartment complex because he said “I looked suspicious and the complex I left had drug and gang activity.” The officer managed to treat me with a little more respect once he saw my badge which was around my neck the entire time. The same badge was visible when he allegedly saw me going back to my car as I carried a work bag and dressed business casual, but he thought I looked suspicious enough to follow me to Quick Trip and turn on the lights behind me. Yet, some in society call me a paranoid or off base for taking offense to these routine encounters.

If you haven’t had a police officer pull out his gun on you for reaching for your wallet to get your license then you can’t speak on the reality of what I’ve experienced. If you’ve never learned how to be compliant and courteous to the same policeman you feel is racially profiling you, but have them still find a way to be disrespectful to you, then don’t preach at me about how I’m supposed to conduct myself. Only in this America can we teach a select few to know their rights and take a stand as Americans while we expect others to stay in their place and be compliant! Why are the brutalized, the disenfranchised always expected to comfort and conduct themselves while being oppressed by a broken system??

I’m not celebrating looting or cheering the burning down of any business, but I understand the anger and hopelessness that makes one think that it’s a good recourse. My long-winded rant is just my way of trying to deal with that part of me that wants to react with anger and violence. The saddest part of this entire situation is that most mistake these tragedies as merely a race issue; it’s a “humanity” issue, one that should make us all think beyond our immediate circumstances. Some of us don’t have the luxury to ignore the circumstance whether they lead to friendly protesting or the looting and rioting because if it isn’t happening to us directly, it’s impacting the cities where we live, someone we know and love.

I’ll close with a quote that has long been attributed to Edmund Burke, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” There has been far too much killing of unarmed minorities by the hand’s law enforcement as well as by average citizens, but nothing has happened to stop it or even cause the powers that be to own the shame of what has been allowed to go on for far too long.

Silent Depression

I came across this old writing from a period of time I tried to forget about. It wasn’t that long ago, but today it feels like a lifetime ago.

 

Silent Depression

 

Broken into a million pieces, I still find the nerve to smile.

What is this unseen force that keeps me together?

While I find comfort in the company of others

I secretly long to be alone with my misery.

There in the nakedness of the dark, I silently scream.

Am I crazy?

Why can’t I sleep?

Why do I cry whenever no one is looking?

Why am I beginning to find refuge in my pain?

Why has the midnight hour now invaded my day?

Choking on my own despair, I find comfort in my own company.

I no longer seek the council of others.

Despair has triumphed.

Yet in the process of death, I keep living.

Despite my best efforts to drown in my own misery.

Eternally on the verge of dying, I exist among those that live.

Though I’m always counted amongst the living, I’m disconnected.

I mask my despair.

In plain view, I cry out for help without whispering a single word.

With pessimistic optimism, I hope to rid myself of the very angst I hold onto

I’m a creature of habit in desperate need for a change.

Daily Truth

I’ve said this for years. I would rather learn the object lesson and significance of how to “humble myself,” than to be humbled by the circumstances of life or the cruelty of men.

Daily Truth

One of the worst things you can do as a person who has a history of troubled relationships is to ACCEPT the dysfunction as your NORMAL operating procedure. When we do this, we RATIONALIZE that it’s ok for a partner never to CHANGE or not to EXPECT more from them. When who you are TODAY no longer accepts YESTERDAYS standards you aren’t giving up on love; you’re finally ACKNOWLEDGING that you REQUIRE IT!

Daily Truth

Too often men develop the wrong perspective when it comes to the dynamic of “sharing the spotlight” when a man is in a relationship with a smart and talented woman. Some men get intimidated if a woman makes more money or perhaps has more ambition or drive than he does?

Real men don’t compete or share the spotlight with their woman; they’re too busy shining that light and giving them all the credit and recognition they rightfully deserve! Emotionally secure men not only know who they are and bring their strengths to the relationship, but they see their partners success as an asset, not a threat. I encourage men to support your woman and let her shine!

Daily Truth

Never settle or even think of compromising when it comes to the type of Love, Commitment, and Respect you believe you deserve.

Walls and Bridges

Many of us today are angry about the things we see unfolding in our society. The lack of empathy hurts those of us who feel discarded and devalued by the collective powers that be. On either side of this social and cultural dynamic, we have members who go so far to the extreme that they build walls with their harmful rhetoric that lead to anger and violence that only further keep us apart!

In the midst of all the anger and righteous indignation, we need to remember that within every race, culture, religious ideology or social group there are elements within each that only want to see the world burn and they have no time for rational thinking or sound decision making.

Every time you tweet hate and ignorance, you build walls, fan the flames of hatred and justify violence! Every time we generalize and assess blame to an entire race, religion or culture we strengthen the walls of racial inequality and turn up the volume on the very ignorant rhetoric that keeps us from hearing each other on any standard issue!

I am a Black man who understands both the resolve of those who peacefully protest as well as the anger of those who turn violent. I have been racially profiled by the police many times throughout my life, but I have the understanding to single out hate and ignorance itself, not any particular race or group!

There is a universal truth that we are collectively missing today, hate doesn’t discriminate, people do! Hate isn’t a White man’s disease or a sickness that’s ravaging the projects or the trailer park; it’s potentially poisoning every would-be terrorist and every die-hard American who feels justified to profile or hate based on a person’s ethnicity or religion.

When the political dust has settled, if we find ourselves isolated and boxed in by our separate walls we will only have ourselves to blame for allowing fear and ignorance to divide and conquer us!

If we look past all of the jargon and varying ideologies on race and politics, we as a society will have to decide if we want to support building walls or building bridges? Bridges not only help us to go beyond our usual limitations and reach new ground, they connect us to others who need our help and those who can also help us. Walls on the other hand only keeps us disconnected from other resources and other people.

What do your posts or your tweets say about who you are? The anonymity of the internet or notion that they are only words is no excuse when it comes to hate and ignorance. If more people cared about making a real difference as they cared about making noise or a statement, we’d have more bridges uniting us as opposed to all the walls and excuses we allow to keep us divided!

I’m just as angry as any person who rationalizes rioting or wanting to turn to violence, but my resolve allows me to vent my frustration, take a deep breath and then share what I’ve learned. At the end of the day when my anger has subsided, and rational thought has once again returned, I realize that I want to build a bridge to help us communicate over the static of indifference and intolerance to help all like-minded people overcome this disease called hatred and racial injustice.

What are you building with your words and actions, Bridges or Walls?

Is Youth Truly Wasted On the Young?

Much like the eternal struggle between good and evil there is a similar battle ragging between the forces of “youth” vs. their mortal enemy “the old.” I don’t even know when this fight first began or who started it, but I know that it will take a level head to put an end to it. While I have full memory of being a member of the youth movement battling against all things that parents just didn’t understand or things that grown-ups couldn’t relate to, I had no clear memory of when I ceased being a young person and moved to the dark-side.

It was as if I blinked one day and the words my mother use to say to me began to make more sense and more sense. Then before I knew it I was 26 years old, married with a newborn baby and I no longer fitted in to my group. I was technically an adult, but I was too young and inexperienced to be considered an adult by my mother or people her age, but I was still young enough to consider myself a young person.

As I progressed and continued to mature within just a few more years I noticed that not only did my priorities change, but I began to see things a bit differently, add on a few more years and a couple of more kids and suddenly I was an outsider! I didn’t exactly get kicked out of the club, I just started doing things differently. I found myself taking naps when I got home from work and suddenly parking closer to the entrance at the supermarket became more of a priority to me!

In the midst of these newly discovered priorities I found myself at work one day sitting in a small group of coworkers listening to a co-worker tell a story about an encounter with an old man and when the person telling the story finished his tale I got an unexpected punchline of my own when I discovered that the “old guy” in the story was actually my age!

Apologies were issued and bruised feeling aside, I found myself pondering exactly when I became old. I went from believing that I was “the cool dad,” to some old guy being made fun of in a random story! I remember thinking I’m only 43, but if this was voiced around people in their 50’s or 60’s I was laughed at for considering myself old!

Exactly when does one first start considering themselves old? And when does it become cool to make fun of people whose only crime is having the good fortune of continuing to be alive? I know it seems like a natural course in life that generations appear to be at odds with one another, but it this truly necessary? Are the forces of youth doomed to rage against the eternal machine of growing older? As cliché or corny as it might sound I believe that these two warring factions have a lot in which they can teach each other and in the process both sides can learn and actually teach each other. It could happen.

One day when I was just living my life I happened upon a group of young people working at a summer program in my community all fresh out of high school and instantly I found myself putting up my “old person” radar detecting the typical trappings of youth, I knew they would be wild partying teens who had the attention span of a 6 year old in a lecture about contemporary literature. Yet, what I soon discovered was that the road to ending the war of age vs. youth would require some give and take among members on both sides.

I patiently ventured out to engage my enemy, fully not intending to sound like an obnoxious know-it-all who routinely beguiled them with unsolicited tales of what life was like when I was their age! I equally needed to relate to them as much as I needed them to understand I was actually on their side.

I met Paige, Trey, Monica, Taylor and Josh all just a few months older than my oldest and I saw an opportunity to learn not only about young people, but find out more about my own self in the process. These young people no doubt enjoyed having fun like any other typical person their age, but they were all working and showing a decent amount of maturity for young people of their age. Not only were they all continuing their education in college, but they were all working towards goals of earning degrees and considering career’s. In a world filled with adults and young people wandering aimlessly, each of these young people seemed to have a plan and a clue , and this intrigued me.

In working with this group of youth, I got to experience young people in a different light, I got to work with them on a peer level as co-workers and in doing so, saw them in a way that I had not thought possible. As a professional, I understand the need for patience, as a father of teenagers I understand that I sometimes lack the patience necessary to fully relate to this group.

In working with these young people I was secretly getting an insight into how to expect more out of my own son and work on our relationship dynamic. After all, these young people were the exact same age as my son, perhaps I could learn how to better relate to this generation through trying to relate to this generation.

First up was Josh, a young energetic young man with the playful spirit and energy of a 6 year old, but it was his aspiration of seeking work in the ministry as a missionary abroad that drew me to leaning more about him. Having accepted the call into the ministry at an early age myself I knew what it was like to live a lifestyle of studying the bible and of service, not to mention a desire to want to share the gospel with others.

When I was his age I was already teaching adult Sunday school as well as preaching in various churches around my city so It is safe to say that the more I got to know Josh I liked him a little more because having been a young man I felt the pull of other typical distractions and so when I come across young men who deliberately go against the usual temptations of youth I make it a point to be that voice of aide, of sound advice just like the people that God used to guide me when I was his age.

In fact both Josh and Trey got my attention as two young fellows that were not ashamed to declare their faith in Jesus Christ, nor their dedication to church service and I must say that this boldness resonated with me. I thought that whatever I can do as a fellow believer I’d do because it was rare to get young men to dedicate their time and effort.  Encountering not one, but two, young men with such promise caused me to feel compelled to be there whenever the situation warranted.

I once over-heard Trey explaining that he had to take off from work on one occasion, and it took me back to when at 21 years old and had to miss out on so many fun events because I had to preach or go to the nursing home or visit members who couldn’t travel. I was reminded that there are still young people that take their service in the church to heart.

My first impression of Monica was rather unique since I had already met her best friend Paige several months prior and I was informed that Monica, like Paige played sports. I describe the moment as unique because I met her on the basketball court and though she was dressed more like Pocahontas than a basketball player she hit several jumpers and instantly got my respect.

Though I already knew girls could be good at sports, I have a teenage daughter who is about to become one of the youngest black belts in her karate school and I thought that my daughter could learn from these young women who were able to be both good students and athlete’s. I enjoyed getting to know young women their age that seem be so focused on attaining the goals they set their minds to achieving. I remember thinking to myself that I wouldn’t mind if my own daughter could maintain that same type of focus when she got to be that age.

In working more directly with Monica I got to have more opportunity to share information and I was often reminded of talks I had with my niece and the wisdom I tried to impart to her. As a father, as a professional that genuinely desires to help others I hate the fact that people in these positions often either refuse to help or they misuse the opportunity in order to take advantage of these young people.

One of the pieces of advice that I shared with Monica was this; never settle in life for less than you deserve, and never let a man treat you in life like less than you are worth. Like I told my niece before her, and my own daughter, I impart to Monica, Paige and Taylor; beautiful and intelligent young women need to remember their worth and never settle in life for any man who refuses to truly value and respect that worth.

It is impossible to work around young people and not be reminded of your own youth and all the dreams you had of conquering the world. Perhaps the issue for some is that working around those hopes and aspirations reminds some of how they’ve managed to settle in life and stop dreaming? This is the exact point in which I believe that our two species can help one another.

No parent of sound mind actually wants their children to fail in life so the notion that any parent is somehow sabotaging their child’s life by giving advice is ludicrous. The fact is that some older adults have the very knowledge and experience that most young people need and when they share that experience it increases the listener’s chances on avoiding the same mistakes in life.

While some of life’s best learned lessons are learned through trial and error the issue of regret is perhaps best avoided when we heed the warnings of the people that God strategically places in our lives at different points in time. I’m grateful for all of the people God placed in my life as I was growing up and I wish I had been more aware at the time of who they were and why they were doing what they were doing.

Working with this group of young people I’m beginning to understand the big picture and that nothing is coincidence. I spoke to a young man one day trying to explain to him that he wasn’t crazy and that we’ve all had thoughts or feelings. The more we talked the more he realized that we had a lot in common and I was able to eventually help him. It’s only when we actually have discourse that we can begin to bridge the divide between those that are enlightened through having experienced life and those who are yet coming into the fullness of what life has to offer.

As an observer I must tell you that I am more accustomed to seeing young people engage in typical foolish behavior as if it’s some moronic birthright to act without consequence disregarding the results. I also observe adults who try to dress and behave as if they seek to relive the days of their youth all while not realizing the impressionable generation watching all the good, the bad and the ugly of what they do each day.

I am 44 years old and while I am not anyone’s “old man” I am confident that I don’t have to relive any “glory days” of my youth, nor do I have to face a “midlife” crisis in order to redefine myself or find my place in this world.

I have a beautiful wife that still encourages and challenges me to want more out of life. I have three beautiful kids that continue to give me a purpose in life. I have no need to relive my youth nor am I envious of the next generation who are currently getting their opportunity to grow, learn and make the same mistakes that I myself got to learn from making when I was their age.

Having the benefit of working with young people the same age of my own son teaches me that I can exercise the same patience with my own son that I afford the young people that I work with. Not every young person you meet is waiting to tell you to “mind your own business”, just like not every older adult is merely looking for an opportunity to wax philosophical about the “back in their day” experiences; some of us sincerely want to help young people and see them succeed.

While I know both sides will continue to work at fully trusting one another I am hopeful that we are seeing a glimpse of young people willing to meet us half way. As I’ve observed and researched the breakdowns between young adults and older adults I see that most of the problems are due to misconceptions and miscommunication.

As we strive to overcome the typical stumbling blocks that divide us such as “the older generation is out of touch” or “the younger generation is too self-absorbed or childish” the survival of our overall society is at stake so we must be able to overcome all obstacles.

I was listening to an inspirational song the other day called “Glory” from the soundtrack of the film Selma, and I was moved by a verse that surmised the point at the heart of my entire writing on this topic, it states – “no one can win this war individually, it takes the wisdom of the elders and young people’s energy”, that is my point exactly.

I applaud Josh, Trey, Monica, Paige and Taylor for daring to dream, set goals and then striving to achieve them. Some people may feel that I am making a big deal out of nothing because these are just several young people in a bigger ocean of young people who are wasting away in an endless abyss of the typical trappings of sex, drugs and alcohol or the mediocrity of simply mocking time with no ambition.

I credit their parents and the people in their life that push and encourage them because in the midst of so many poor examples of who young people are and what they could be doing these young people are actually making an effort to make something happen in their life and I for one am willing to encourage them and see them succeed.

When they succeed, my daughter succeeds, my son succeeds, and in the process our society benefits and our future looks bright.

I often joke with the kids that we work with in our afterschool program whenever I beat them in a race that they just let an “old man” beat them and they should feel ashamed, “today’s youth is in poor shape” I often tell them jokingly, “our future is in jeopardy” I then tell them, but as long as we have young, growing adults like these young people I’ve come to know, I believe our future is in good hands.