“Hi, Naomi. That’s your name. Naomi. I’m your father. You can call me Dad … well, I mean when you learn how to talk. You don’t know me now, but you will. But, for now, I have something to tell you. I love you, Naomi. I love you right now … this very minute. I promise to never love you any more or any less than I do right now … this very minute. I promise that nothing you do … no wrong or mistake that ever happens will never ever change my love for you … the love that I feel right now … this very minute.
“And, Jesus loves you, too. I know how to love you because Jesus teaches me how. You’re gonna do great things. But for right now, know this. You will always know love from me.”
Now, let’s not kid ourselves. My baby didn’t understand my words. There’s no way she could comprehend what was in my really heart or know my intentions. I mean the kid really was … and truly is … brilliant. But seriously, she had no clue as to what all that meant. And honestly, I didn’t either.
I learned, late in life, about the power of positive words. I learned late in life, as thoughts like these were never expressed to me nor any of my siblings as children. I heard words from an unbreakable, barbarous woman. To my mother’s way of thinking, knowledge was much more than power. It was a weapon. The diploma was humanity’s gateway to all things to be hallowed and laudable. The dispensation of that expertise was her driving passion. More than that, it was a fluid force consuming nearly every fiber of her being. She swung that weapon with arrogance. Her family or acquaintances who possessed less knowledge than she was usually her intended targets.
I took a summer school night psychology class at the University of Cincinnati alongside a couple of my mother’s underclass students. As time passed by, I introduced myself to two potential new friends. One said, “Thurman. Is your mother Eleanor Thurman?” I smiled. I answered. I continued on and the night went swimmingly. The next class, that same student had an odd look as we met. She queried, “I thought you said Eleanor Thurman was your mother. I told her about taking a summer class with her son. She told us, ‘I only have one son. He’s retarded’”. Decades passed before the poison from that bullet bled out of my broken heart. THAT was what I’d known as commonplace. THAT was the one and only Eleanor Thurman.
I learned about real love from other parents. Other sisters. Other brothers. If my mother wouldn’t claim me as family, they would. They did. If my father couldn’t defend my honor, they would. They did. If my family didn’t dry my tears, they would. They did. I learned how to show love and speak kindness into people’s lives. As time passed by, what many knew as positive conversation became part of the national fabric. One particular first lady thought she coined the phrase, “It takes a village”. But, she was a bit late. I had nine mothers and fathers in my neighborhood that kept me in line. Life wasn’t perfect. But, as a nation, we were generally happy.
Somewhere in this wonderland, uplifting dialogue morphed into a surprisingly shocking series of four-letter words. Some gave themselves permission to degrade and insult any and all at will under the reckless banner of “Political Incorrectness”. Christianity, the supposed standard for decent behavior and kindness saw their new found “freedom” of speech as a God-given rallying cry to take back the land from the evil doers. You know … evil doers. Damnable liberals, otherwise known as “the left” or “libtards”. Ass backward conservatives, lovingly labeled “rednecks”, “fascists” or “neo-Nazis”. One thing was certain. Regardless of who mowed what lawn, the other grass in the neighborhood was generally walked by the Devil’s spawn. Moderates like me were seen not have the courage to pick a side, when, in fact, moderates choose to see all sides of an issue and decide independently for ourselves. To quote St. Augustine, “In essentials, unity. In non-essentials, liberty. In all things, charity.”
It didn’t start off with Donald Trump’s propensity for catchphrases. It didn’t begin with Barack and it was way before Rush Limbaugh. It opened ages before with pure anger. Pent-up, developing fear and rage from people across a sea of cultures, counter-cultures, religious beliefs, broken dreams and failed lives fed up with the way “it” is and longing for the way “it” was. Politicians and media moguls only did what they do, stoked the fires and beefed up the images. We trade our lauded intelligence for blind sheep roles. The splits in us became holes. The holes transformed into canyons.
If I told you there were only two options to choose, options between experiencing hell and what would be worse than hell, which would you choose? To many of us, myself included, that was the choice for national leadership. To many of us, myself included, options for destiny and future simply disappeared over time, replaced with party affiliation and the least bad option. Many felt sick of the selections. Some gave in. Some gave up. Others gave out. And this is why we find ourselves in the mess we’re in today. I’m not talking about the political landscape. I mean the state of our humanity.
One of many Christian musicians that I used to respect gave their opinions about what the nation needed to survive. A call for better jobs, stronger economy and wiping out all debt didn’t surprise me in the least. The desire to remove all Muslims, put Hillary in jail, make the national language “American” and put God first in the government again did turn my head … a bit. This discourse happened shortly after the release of an audio tape involving a woman’s anatomy and the manipulation thereof. Another queried about the moral implications of giving the candidate connected in this conversation. The response is one I’ve heard ad nauseam: “Whaddaya want? A president or a priest?” And we wonder why we are where we are.
I could have spent the rest of my life in acceptance of my mother’s rejection. It took me nearly a quarter of a century, but I chose neither hell nor something worse than hell. I elected to look for one of a thousand options that didn’t involve hell or something worse than hell. These days, I have a rather private eight syllable reply for haters who want to try and pull me back into only those options. “Thank you. Fuck you. See you later.”
Someone that was once family to me opted to play my mother’s previous role. During some worthless argument, I heard, “Have you EVER created anything good?” I could have swallowed my soul and stayed silent. Instead, I responded. “Since most of what was created involved us both, I suppose not.” Thank you. Fuck you. See you later.
Naomi is finding the strength in choosing that response for her haters. She’ll pass on that strength and that voice to her babies. Good for her. THAT is the determination we need as a people to get to the Promised Land. We don’t need another hero.
Choose life … in order that you may live …