Within the context of this culture we live in fear. Fear is the motivating factor behind every action taken. From buying fences to purchasing cars, to choosing to arm your child with the latest smartphone, fear is present. Do I need a gun to protect myself, my family, or my property? Should I get a permit to carry my fire power openly to dissuade anyone who might want to take from me the baubles and things Iv’e amassed to show others my progress?
Children fear being ridiculed at not possessing the most advanced gadgets and parents fear they will be seen as unfit if unable to provide them. The word bully has been tossed around so much among our children it has little to no meaning anymore. We’re all feeling bullied from employers, economics, healthcare and politicians. We live in a society that fears retirement, do i have enough? We fear healthcare, will my family survive if I get sick? Am I educated enough to keep pace in this modernized technological frontier, are my children? At every turn the question of enough is there staring us in the face, leaving us all with feelings of being unsettled and wondering do I measure up?
Many have turned to games for an internalized sense of control. Not board games or card game that feature chance and luck, but strategy games and first-person shooting games that foster feelings of control and dominance. There are futuristic games featuring more fire-power than most advanced countries possess in their armories. Evidence of the popularity of these new forms of entertainment is a casual conversation with an average 9-year old who is enamored and well versed in automatic weaponry and the kill radius of grenades, IED’s and smart bombs. We even crush candy for fun.
Video games are not the only culprits to fostering fear in this new and different world. There is social media giving many a voice to express their rage. Fearful people now have an unlimited network to connect their fears with the fears of others. Not just connect but stay in constant connection awaiting the next new something substantiating the fear that already exists. We’ve all become so plugged in we fear being unplugged. We fear not having a voice. We fear not being heard and not being listened to. We fear our lives wont matter. We fear.
Fear gives us something to do, substantiates our actions and behaviors, and concretes the thinking of us versus them. We walk everyday on guard and at the ready to protect ourselves from terrorist, zombies, perverts, Uncle Joe, teachers, policemen, doctors, lawyers, preachers, religion, manufacturers, Hollywood, pornography, the list is endless. We’ve all become victims on the look out and awaiting our next victimization. Depression appears to be on the rise. We have to call these feelings of hopelessness something more sophisticated than fear, right?
The new question running amok, how do Black parents keep their sons safe? More than safe, how do Black parents keep their sons alive? It appears, in this age of instant news, we are witness to young Black males being murdered in the streets by their own hands, at the hands of the average citizen in self-protect mode, and even those sworn, trained and ordered to serve and protect. Again, fear is the culprit. Fear is the perpetrator of these heinous acts of violence. Yes, we personalize the loss. We know on some primal level anyone of those Black boys murdered could have been our sons, grandsons, nephews and cousins. We identify deeply with those lost to senseless acts. Fear comes in many faces.
The only true response to fear is love. Fear expressed as rage is still just fear. There is vast difference between fearing for the safety of someone you care about and loving them unconditionally. The look, the feel, the texture of loving someone fills them with permission to love themselves and expands into loving others. I cannot do to another that which I would not do to myself permeates. Love has the capacity to fill the darkened corners where fear exists.
At first blush love appears counter-intuitive. Many might think love is a passive response to fear. Try loving someone who has wrong you, taken from you or brings threat of harm into your reality. Love is never passive. Love is an act, an action and a hand when needed by another. It takes true power to achieve love for that person, place, or thing you recognize as out to get you. Why out to get you, what do you have that we all don’t already possess? Those that would take from others are entrenched in fear and bound by the rage of hopelessness determined to get you before you get them. Joining those lost to fear gives fear reason to exist. You become what you loath sinking deeper into your own version of despair. I don’t for one second recommend anyone act as if fear doesn’t exist, surely it does. Does fear need to consume you, does fear require you to respond in greater fear? The bigger the rage, the deeper the fear.
The first step in navigating this different world will require many of us to step back. Unplug for a bit. Trust me if there is one thing Ive learned is the data featured online isnt going anywhere, ever. You wont miss the apocalypse, if it happens you’ll know about it before the newest twitter feed. Lets take inventory of what really matters. Lets set aside fear for moment and introduce ourselves to love.
How to navigate this different world specific to Black boys and men is coming soon.