By Hakim Abdul-Ali
I had an opportunity to talk to an engaging young brother the other day about some of the trials that he was experiencing in his young life. He reached out to me because I’ve always been a friendly listener and serious communicator with this young soul.
This young man has always been respectful towards me and, on that day when we rapped, he felt that he wanted to asked my opinion about some pressing difficulties that he was having in his life. With no trusting adult around, he said felt safe to ask me about how he would handle a trying situation in his life.
He said that he was about to get into some serious trouble, and he wanted to know if he was taking the right path to avoid a possible terrible situation that could change the course of his life forever. After listening to him, I paused and knew that if I didn’t address his concerns, jail, or prison, would be steering him dead in the face.
I was direct with my more than candid views and, hopefully, other positive thoughts to the young brother, as I knew all-too-well that being Black, young and without a stable home environment, you almost are sure to face an uphill battle to survive. He was deeply troubled, and I knew that in his troubled mind, he felt alone and lost, sensing no one cared about him.
Well, I did, and I let him know that I was going to be there for him, but first, and foremost, he would have to promise me that as of that point in our meeting, he would not think about, or participate, in any criminal activity (whatsoever). He told me honestly that that would be hard to do because the streets were calling him to do no good, but he’d try.
At least he was honest, and this perplexed young brother is probably like so many other dismayed young brothers from Los Angeles to Miami who are lost in the all-too-real life reality game show called “American Hopelessness.” As I listened to the young brother speak to me, I knew that he (really) wasn’t interested in going to jail, prison, or having his life taken away by the ghetto horrors of Black-on-Black crime or the national escalating police injustices toward men of color. That’s a fact.
I’m a Muslim and the young brother, proclaiming his Blackness, said he approached me because he respected my straightforwardness from reading my articles. To that I said I wanted him to know that no matter what you call yourself, you are someone who God Alone had created and, as such, he was created to do something powerful and blessed in this life, so please don’t get it twisted as to who you are and why you are here. It was his choice.
I told him I really appreciated that he felt that he could and wanted to rap to me because I was going to be there for him. But, I also reiterated that there are many other folk out there, Muslim and non-Muslim alike, who are willing to help him and others who need to know that they are important and are a vital part of our African-American and the greater local multi-cultural communities.
The young man had a not-so-kind image of law enforcement officials and politicians in his area because he sees them as oppressors and do nothing people (his own words). In some instances, e.g., it would be very hard to argue with this young man’s feelings, especially in light of the dissing of Black Lives Matters’ urgent concerns and the recent political climate that has left many of “The American People” disillusioned about what is justice and for whom does it (really) apply.
I said to the young man that there are many law enforcement officials and some politicians who I know, male and female, who are genuinely good folk. Again, he told me that he didn’t know any, and therein may lie some of the inherent problems that plagues our society. We’re still separate and unequal.
Our society is jammed packed with so many racial, political, spiritual, economic, religious, moral and other topical issues until it’s not an easy task to provide satisfactory answers to every concern or qualm. Sometimes, our elected officials and law enforcement officials can’t do it all, nor can anyone else do it all for you. Take stock.
Maybe, we need to look inward. I related this in rather simple terms to the young brother just as I’m relaying it to you now. Also I told him that no one, be he or she be so-called Black, Peach, Beige, White, Brown, Yellow, Red, Tan or whatever hue or ethnicity he or she identifies with, ever rightfully gets more than he or she gives. “Life is about equality” my late mother used to tell me, and her rationale went something like this.
My mother, a schoolteacher by profession and a spiritual soul in the highest by nature, said communication in life is an equal and a neutral division meaning-half to you and half to the other soul in the communication process.
You already know that I’m a Muslim, but my mom was a Christian and she taught me that people should give as much as they take. “It’s 50-50.” In both of our spiritual traditions, I see that we’re supposed to be servants, or spiritual employees, of the Creator Alone, employing mom’s 50-50 communication rule.
I told the young man that, and I told him that if my mom was alive today and talking to him, I believe that she would ask him if he was giving in service (and not complaints) as much as he’s taking in inspiration, understanding, humility, compassion, experience and training from God? Now, that’s some heavy stuff for you to dwell on if I do say so myself.
Please think about that. The young said he didn’t quite understand where I was coming from. I told him that life is a university where knowledge is dispersed every moment in every second of our existences. My mother would say that a true student of learning didn’t have time to whine and complain because in this phase of living, life is much too short for that.
She advised that the next moment isn’t guaranteed to us, so it’s time for all of of us to take a consequential “notice invoice” of what’s really going in our lives. Are you giving as much as you’re taking, and are you or operating on ” Mom’s 50-50 Plan?” Think! Do your efforts in communicating with yourself and others yield positive achievements or disastrous results? Again, think.
I told the young man that loving who you are is a plus and that everything that’s in his path is there to make him stronger, so don’t give into negative thinking. I believe that with all my heart and soul because it’s invigorating to positively give as much as you take in. Remember mom’s rule.
In my worldview now, as said to the young man, I’ve come to know that every dispute or undoing in life is probably traceable to the lack of the 50-50 rule mom laid in my head way back then. From bad relationships to soured businesses to disgruntled politics to the brokenness of the family unit, the equal division of “Mom’s 50-50 Plan” is missing.
I told the young man that as old as I am, I still needed it in my life just as I believed that he needed it in his young life. But it can never be a daily reality in our lives until we all, including you and me, begin to apply “Mom’s 50-50 Plan”
You see, life is full of the abrupt and disappointing arenas of our lives, and no matter who you are, life is going to throw you an unforeseen curve or two. Knowing this to be an absolute given, I flatly told the young brother that life is the ultimate testing ground for one’s real faith, so keep his head up. That message is for me and you too. For today and always, that’s, “As I See It.”