Friday, August 29, 2014

About That Life

   I’m not about “that life.” For those not familiar with the inner city colloquial expression referring to a life in the streets or gang related activity, now you are. If you are a regular reader here, you know I’m not about that life. However, not being about that life now doesn’t mean I was never exposed to it in my youth. Indeed, I was very much exposed to it growing up on the streets of Boston, but maturity and the epiphany that life is about so much more has changed all that. What I’m wondering now, is what prevents others from seeing the same light?
   Drugs and alcohol is a big part of being about that life and one could conjecture that heavy and/or frequent drug use of various types can addle the brain and prevent good decision making. In fact, I’m sure it does. Being a substance abuser comes with it’s own set of demons to conquer and if the lifestyle you live proliferates the demon dog pile, it might be hard to realize the road you travel has frequent horrific accidents. There have been many stories of people waking up to reality after a bullet whizzes by their head, but they don’t necessarily stop beaming up to see Scotty because of it…even if they distance themselves from “that life.” On the other hand, how many gangsters refuse to drink or do any drugs at all?

   Peer pressure is another motivating factor for the illogical. Gang life in particular promotes the idea that the gang is the real “family” and that loyalty to it trumps any other ties. If it wasn’t so true, I’d recoil from the ridiculousness of such an idea, especially considering how I love my own family. For me there is a point to raising children to attain a better place in the world than I currently hold. There is a point to making sure they get an education and arming them with knowledge to meet the issues of the world (and yes, I’m emphasizing that knowledge comes from more sources than formal education). I can see the lure when your young and without hope, but when you get older and learn that the world is larger than your section of it, I just don’t understand the seduction of your peers over your own growth and well being of your children.
   At some point I have to chalk some of this up to just being an idiot. Take, for example, the case of Aaron Hernandez. He denies being in a gang, but gang experts say he shows all the signs…I say whatever, since I’m looking at is actions (gang related or not). The world was being handed to him on a silver platter (from the perspective of someone not born with the talent to get where he was) and instead of moving forward, he apparently decided he was about that life (although the case has not concluded, I do have a degree of common sense). I really don’t understand. I get he has a temper (plenty of us do) but either he lost his mind, or never really invested in having one to begin with.

   It’s tough for me to sit here an rash on children with no guidance to know better these days. If the parents aren’t parenting correctly, the odds get stacked early. Children are impressionable and it doesn’t help when you have a segment of the music industry geared to the destruction of a culture by targeting the youth with a message of self destruction. Take a look at the majority of rappers making it big these days and you’ll find they have nothing positive to say. Further, their success is an example to those looking for hope, that the path they walk and talk is a viable one…when the reality is the exact opposite.
   This is a huge problem that is spreading with every glorification of “that life.”  The missteps of the blessed as they stumble and fall trying to negotiate the treacherous path of “that life” are not ringing enough bells in the heads of those that need to wake up. It’s becoming an epidemic just to get the youth to pull their pants up…and we expect to impress upon them that violence isn’t the answer (especially in such a violent world)?

   It has to start with more of us coming out and standing firm that we are not about “that life”…because it has no future. We have to press home the truth that our children are the future and if the path we put them on is about "that life," then we have no right to be outraged when they fall off the cliff. We need to press home that positivity isn't weakness, and those that are truly strong forge their own path to productivity.

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