Sunday, October 01, 2006

Be The Change Part II

How do you know if the lifestyle you advocate is right? How do you know that your moral code, your opinions on how people ought or ought not behave are sound or even achievable? Have you tested them? If you haven't than how could you possibly advocate them?

I know too many people who look down on thugs in the ghetto as ignorant savages, killing each other for no reason. They expect that were they in that same situation they would somehow behave differently. I was one of those who honestly believed that until I read a book on LA gang bangers back in the early nineties. There was a kid whose older brother had been murdered by a gang from another neighborhood. He knew who did it. Everyone knew who did it. But if he told the cops he knew that gang would have retaliated and killed him and probably more of his family members, maybe even his mom or dad. Same if he tried to get revenge on his own. Then, along came the gang from his neighborhood offering both protection and revenge all he had to do was join them and they would see to it that the guy who killed his brother would pay and no one would retaliate against him for it. As soon as I read it I knew what I would have done. No way in hell I would have been able to turn the other cheek. I would have wanted the guy who murdered my brother to pay and if that meant joining a gang then I would have been banging with all the rest of them. Realizing that made it somewhat harder for me to judge others in that situation. If I was in that situation and managed to resist the temptations of gang life then I'd have had every right to look down on those who did not resist. Since I wasn't. I couldn't.

When I tell my friends who use drugs that they are idiots I feel justified in doing so because I have resisted that temptation. I grew up in a neighborhood infested with drugs. My mother smoked weed. Everybody's mother and father I knew smoked smoked weed. My mother wouldn't have said a word if I lit up right in front of her once I was in high school. I had the same peer pressure as everyone else. I worked in nightclubs where drugs were passed around like candy. I didn't touch it. Ever. Not even once. I've dated women who used. Never touched it. I hung out with people who dealt it. Never touched it. So I am comfortable advocating that lifestyle. I know it's possible because I have done it. I know it is the right path because I have walked it and doing so has made my life better. It's not just some wild untested theory.

When I tell someone that there is nothing worth ruining your day over, that worrying and fretting about something you can't change is a senseless waist of time, I am not advocating something that I myself cannot do. I am advocating the very way in which I personally live my life. When people ask me if anything ever upsets me or pisses me off it is because my demeanor is generally pleasant. I don't fly off the handle easy. I don't trip over most things I encounter in life. So when I say that there are few things in life worth yelling and crying about I am not being naively optimistic. When I say that you can choose your mood and attitude and not be the victim of circumstance emotionally I am talking about how I live. I am talking about a theory I have had the confidence and integrity to test personally before advocating it to others.

When I say that there is always time in the day to go to the gym and keep in shape. That you can always find time to eat a healthy meal instead of picking up fast food. I am speaking as a man with two kids and one more on the way, who works two jobs and writes novels in his spare time, who still finds time to spend at least a half hour a day working out. I know it can work because I do it everyday. I am not spouting off about some naively idealistic notion that I myself have never achieved.

If I were to tell you to turn the other cheek I would be a hypocrite because I damn sure can't. How do I know that it is even possible for someone to live their life that way when I can't? When I haven't even tried? Who am I to push a philosophy onto someone else that I can't even practice?

When I tell men to be good fathers and husbands and take care of their responsibilities I am not talking as someone who neglects his family but as someone who does everything for his loved ones. I am not talking as someone with no kids and no responsibilities who has no clue how hard it is to be a father. I am talking as a father. I am talking as someone who has always been there for his kids. I walk the talk.

I'm not just tooting my horn here. There's a point to all of this.

I don't tell people to stay celibate until they are married. I couldn't do it. So, how would I know if it's the right or wrong thing to do? How do I know if it's even possible? Because other people have said so? How do I know they weren't lying their asses off? There may be another way. There may be a better way. I wouldn't know because I never tried it. It might be the best way. It might not. All I can talk about is what I have done, so I keep my mouth shut about celibacy. All I can say on the subject of sex is pussy feels good. If you ask me about celibacy that will be my answer. True, I could tell you about communicable diseases and heartbreak and regret but after all of that pussy still feels good.

Am I saying that you have to live through every experience in order to have an opinion on it? No, the beautiful thing about human beings is that we can learn from the experiences of others. We don't need to experience something directly to know everything about it, enough to form solid opinions about it. But if we learn everything we can about a particular lifestyle or moral practice, then we try it and can't do it, or worse yet, never try it, it is irresponsible and wrong of us to to try and force that lifestyle or morality on others. You have to be the change before you can advocate it.

Do you really expect that you can preach celibacy while fucking everything that moves? Preach non-violence while kicking ass? Preach sobriety while getting high everyday and expect to be taken seriously? But beyond that, If you have never lived through an experience, if nothing in your experience even remotely relates to the experiences of those you are passing judgment upon, but yet you have the audacity to tell them how they should or should not behave during that experience, then you are an idiot also. That old saying about walking a mile in someone's moccasins before you try to judge them is a rule to live by.

Here's the deal, life is trial and error. You form a philosophy or adopt someone else's philosophy if you are like most people, then you try it and keep what works and abandon what doesn't then you can tell others about your experiences. "Living this way will make your life better. I know because this is how I live my life and my life is wonderful." If you can't say that than I have no interest in hearing from you. I don't want to hear shit from Christians who can't live Christ-like lives but preach it to others. I don't want to hear shit from Buddhists who are materialistic and sensualistic. Live it then preach it. If you form opinions and adopt philosophies and hold convictions about moral ideals and principles that you personally have never attempted than you are a hypocrite. Try it before you preach it. When I meet brothers from the ghetto who have never picked up a gun I respect the hell out of them. When I meet someone from the suburbs who talks about how people from the ghetto shouldn't pick up guns I want to slap the shit out of them. Live it before you preach it. Stick to what you know. When I hear ex-drug addicts preach sobriety and how other drug addicts need to turn their lives around I respect the hell out of them. When I hear kids who grew up in drug-infested neighborhoods who have resisted temptation I respect the hell out of them. When I hear people who have lived sheltered lives free of temptation talk about resisting temptation it turns my stomach.

It's like Chris Rock said about republicans talking shit about Bill Clinton for getting a blowjob from Monica Lewinsky, "Ain't nobody trying to blow them." Trust me, when I was out there chasing every woman I saw the last person I wanted advice from was some forty-year-old virgin who couldn't get his dick wet in a rainstorm. How the hell is someone with no hope of getting laid gonna talk to me about monogamy? Now, hearing from guys who'd lived my lifestyle and turned their lives around or guys who had the means, method, and opportunity to live as I did who had resisted did wonders. This was because I knew that they exemplified the philosophies they were espousing and not because they were incapable of living otherwise, but because they had made the decision to change and could tell me how much better their lives were as a result.

Be The Change. Before you go spouting your mouth off about how others have lived or should live try living that way yourself first. Do some research. A little trial and error experimentation. Get a little personal experience behind you to back up your opinions. Otherwise, just shut tha fuck up.