On King, Cynicism, and the Challenge
The color issue has moved me since I was a kid. One of my heroes was Frank Robinson, an outfielder with the Baltimore Orioles, my favorite team (I was born in Hagerstown, Maryland). I never understood why guys that looked like my father were beating up guys who looked like my hero just because of their skin color. It made me mad as hell. Added to the fact that I was a middle child (nothing is fair to a middle child), and watching the Sixties counter-culture unfold, my life as an activist was determined before I turned 12.
I have been a seeker, and a brooder, for large chunks of my life. Pete Townsend’s angry, sneering seeker (“look at my face, ain’t this a smile?”) seemed appropriate to me. You, too, may be a seeker. That may even be why you checked in to this blog. So, here is some wisdom for other seekers.
Hoping to find The Answer? You never will. Sorry to say that, but I have been trying my whole life.
This date (MLK’s national holiday) seemed to be an appropriate enough time to start our blog because it’s the time of year when most people are moved to at least consider their cynicism, think about whether we should make the effort to save the world, maybe even apply our faith, or whether we should just shake it off and go for it, getting all we can for ourselves.
I’ve spent my whole life trying to live up to what I thought were God’s expectations of me to make a heroic difference in the world. That requires a fair share of hubris (“I’m capable of meeting those expectations”), wisdom (“people need to get past their own greed and self-absorption”), idealism (“the world can be a better place”) and realism (“I better figure out how to get it done”).
In my case, I’ve had the privilege of working at Community Action for 30 years and had something to do with creating the Second Harvest Food Bank, the Sixth Street Shelter, a wide range of housing, energy, entrepreneurship and microlending programs, and community development projects. We’ve gotten laws and referenda passed, fought the bad guys, like slum landlords and predatory lenders. I’ve met a president, vice president, Federal Reserve chairman, senators, rock stars. I’ve stood proudly on stages accepting awards for our work and sat alone in the dark, crying my eyes out at injustice.
We will never be satisfied with the difference we make. And, yet, the fire in the gut, the burning disdain for greed, ignorance and the mean streak that seems to be getting deeper and wider, can’t be doused.
So, what are you waiting for? There is only one choice: fight like hell. Few of us will win if we don’t find a way to make sure all of us can win. People will get in the way. They’ll ignore the expectations of their professed faith. Their hypocrisy will be obvious but they’ll find a way to rationalize it.
Humanity has made a mess of things. Let’s clean it up. Stand up for what is right. So what if you can’t figure it all out? You know what is right and what is wrong.
Don’t be patient. Patience is not a virtue. It is the luxury of the powerful, the comfortable, the affluent. Too many people who are none of those things need you.
So we’re joining the fray of the blogosphere. Count on us to weigh in. Count on being exposed to Community Action attitude. Strap yourself in – this is sure to be a wild ride.