The Lies We Tell

The course of every persons’ life shape and mold their perspectives, their tolerances and their intolerances; some for good and some for bad. I try to be as aware as possible of my own unnecessary intolerances to improve as a person. I try to strengthen and exploit my tolerances (or positive personality traits) because those are my strong points and the traits that I have to better the people that I come into contact with. So I face deep internal conflict when the worst of me start to overcome the best of me.

I hate being lied to… and it is wearing heavily on my patience.

Now I blame my father for the way I feel about being lied to. Growing up I could get away with just about anything; anything but lying. Lying shows direct disrespect for someones’ intellect or mental ability for solving common sense problems. It shows that you do not believe the person you are lying to, cannot connect the dots that will expose whatever it is that you are attempting to cover up. So every time my father caught me in a lie, I would be disciplined to teach me that I am not as smart as the truth. Truth will always show up. It taught me that lying does not work, and it actually makes every situation worse than it could have been.

(Side note: You know that ugly sweater you got for Christmas? Put it on and smile. You cannot tell your kids the truth about that. I say that just to say that I do not believe the raw truth is the best way to handle every situation. Lying to deceive and manipulate is what I’m referring to right now.)

My patience has worn so thin when it comes to waiting and looking for someone change and improve the condition of the social climate in America. That is for the best though. I see now that I cannot wait for someone to do what I can start to do myself. This is my America; and if it needs cleaning, I should start doing my part first. Besides, I’m sure I have better cleaning supplies; Christ, love and hope. I may only be able to do it through a kind word, a few sandwiches and some mentoring, but it would be getting done. So I stopped looking for any politician, activist, celebrity, actor or entertainer to clean dirt that they rarely see; dirt that they are barely unaware of; dirt that does not even effect them. So my patience running out in that area actually pushed me to not complain. Instead, I now attempt to do more myself to change whatever it is that I come into contact with.

As I carry on though, I have to push through the media constantly lying to me. The other day I turned on my television and noticed that the Kevin Harts and Chris Rocks and Tyler Perrys are constantly making movies and TV shows to make me laugh. Don’t get me wrong, I am not faulting anyone for doing whatever it is for them to earn a living. But at that moment in time, I realized I’m being lied to. I am constantly being distracted from the realities right outside my doors with comedy and feel good stories. The reason I feel as though I’m being lied to is because I have not heard nearly as much as I thought I should have from these people to support the turmoil that our country is going through. I feel as though between all of the black entertainers and people with a voice, there could have been some type of camaraderie amongst them to get everyone else to follow.

You are lying to me.

You want me to pay my money to watch your shows and movies, while I cannot pay you to ask your opinion or where should I send my money to contribute to your funding to help the condition. I do not need to see you in a t-shirt. My newborn godchild can wear a t-shirt. What should I do with my money? Go see your movie?

You are lying to me.

You are acting as though there is not an escalating problem in this country that is affecting and oppressing the very people that you are marketing to. To be fair though, I know that those three blanket names I called (I would hope) have donated to the causes. I would be ignorant to assume that they have not donated anything. I would also be ignorant to not see that there is only so much that they will do or say to not cut into their financial losses. I’m not going to be too critical because I don’t have millions to lose. Therefore, I pray to God that money at any level never becomes so important that I would let it silence me to keep it. Since I’m not in their shoes, I will reserve some judgment and place a majority of the fault on people like me who can talk a mile a minute, but won’t donate five bucks to a change you say you believe in. Luke 16:10 states, “He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.” I was talking with a guy one day, and he was telling me how much he would do if he was a celebrity with millions at his disposal.

He was lying to me.

Whatever you do with the money you have now, is the same thing you will do if you had millions — just on a larger scale. So instead of constantly being lied to, from those at the top all the way to those like myself, I have decided to only do whatever I can do as an individual. The culture is changing, and there are people nationwide deciding to do the same thing. I just hope that whoever does decide to make that individual push for change, has enough strength to continue, because it can be extremely frustrating when your ideas are grand but your voice is insignificant.

Name-Calling vs. Reinventing Yourself

Recently, I have been making a few changes here and there get a handle on the direction of my life. It’s not that I was never way off course with partying or doing drugs or anything of that nature, but even the simplest of lives can be filled with unimportant detours and pit stops. I like to think of the process as decluttering; simply removing any unneeded distractions and losing any deadweight, in order to progress toward your goals. You don’t always have to have a specific goal even; maybe you just want to be a better person. That will take some editing. Cutting the unneeded, pasting the needed, copying the good, and deleting the bad. It’s hard enough to do with an essay, but editing a life?! It can be a hassle!

While I was thinking about the small changes that I have to make, the few habits that I have to get better with, and the few influences that I have to deal with, I thought about people who have had to make major changes. I’m talking about people who have to literally reinvent themselves. I cannot even begin to imagine the struggle that it can be. After years of negative friendships, negative relationships, negative habits and maybe even addictions, you have to stop… and become a whole new person, separated from a lifestyle that may be the only one you know. That has to be extremely difficult.

I think the most difficult part will be separating from your reputation; not the actual acts or habits, but being known by people for the acts and habits. Often those who are familiar with you will not readily accept the fact that you want to improve, and will quickly remind you of who you “really are.” You have to be able to shake the past though, looking forward to who you are becoming instead of who you were.

Growing up in the inner-city of Southwest Atlanta, I have seen quite a few people come from backgrounds that would not have provided them the lives that they lead today. However, they did not let reminders of their pasts define their futures. I grew up in a church where people came from all walks of life and changed for the better. Nonetheless, ties had to be cut, friends had to be left, and routines had to be broken in order to attain the life they wanted. I am overwhelmed at how hard that must have been now that I have to make only a few minor changes. My life can stay pretty much the same, except trimming bad habits (mainly time wasters and extracurricular nothings), and focusing more on goals.

So how can people have so much influence over your desire to get better and improve at life? I think it can be something as simple as kindergarten name-calling.

Name-calling has had to have been the most efficient tactic for discouragement throughout all of history. It is easy to lose sight of a plan, or go ahead with the crowd, or fall back into a routine, simply based on the fear of what someone might call you. It takes hard work and focus to break routine and change for the better… and if someone close to you calls you “goody two-shoes”, you may be tempted to prove you are not that and fall back into something that you said you would quit. If good two-shoes means changing your life for the better and letting go of things that will prohibit you from that, then be a goody two-shoes.

Fake, phony, funny-acting and two-faced are other names that can definitely be hurtful if said by the right person. The name calling implies that you are intentionally setting yourself apart to make others look bad. Even though you know that it’s not the case, you will sit down, and converse, and laugh, and talk, and before long be in the same routine of complacency that you set out to break from. Those names are particular toward women. Men, on the other hand, will do anything to escape the label of B.A.N. or L.A.N. In a predominate Black-American public school, this was the last thing any guy wanted to be known as. To avoid being called either, a guy, with our pride and egos, would do just about anything. But if it’s just a name, why do we fight so hard to discredit them? Maybe because the person saying it matters too much. Those who really love you and want to see you improve will always encourage and push you towards the better routes in life. Discouragement will come from people who either do not want to see you do better, or do not believe that they can do better. Decide whether you can afford to carry that type of relationship and be big enough to handle the outcome of whatever decision you make. Often we fail at things, and don’t know how or when it happened. From now on, if you fail at anything, at least be able to look back and recognize the decision you made to get there. If you continue to surround yourself by complacency, recognize it, take credit for it and live with the outcome of the situation. If you decide that name-calling and bad-talking is not going to stop you, then you probably won’t fail. If you are a newly converted Christian or one with faults, don’t let the word “hypocrite” take the place of your willingness to attempt to live as a Christian. (Sidenote: Even so, don’t be a hypocrite either… Being at fault and living at fault are two completely different things!) Continue to grow and improve toward perfection. That way you can only go up.

The only thing I want to say is that goody two-shoes, fakes, phonies, two-face, hypocrites L.A.N.s/ B.A.N.s, alcoholics, druggies, or whatever you may be called do exist. There are plenty out here to choose from… But you don’t have to be one of them. Nor do you have to prove that you are not one of them by doing something you do not want to do. Don’t live based on a label that others can put on and take off of you. Live a life based on the label that you want, and before long, that’s what and who you will be.