Fred sent me a video on Facebook today. It was a video of a man reciting poetry. I ain’t much into poems, but Fred knew I would like this one.
I met Fred about five years ago. Good thing I didn’t meet him 20 years ago. See, 20 years ago, Fred was a cop in a Midwestern city, patrolling a beat where I hung out in my days of active alcoholism. If I had met Fred then, my jacket would be longer and lousier than it is now. But when I met Fred, it was in a university classroom. He was in the process of becoming Rev. Fred, and I was clearing the fog that got in the way of Professor Dean.
We found out, in that classroom, just how close our paths had come to crossing in my days of insanity. But we also discovered how close our vision had become to helping the young men and women on the streets we both walked, though for obviously different reasons.
That’s why Fred knew I would like the poems. The young man (hey, to me, 40 is young) recited two poems, one to his mother and one to his son. Both poems looked back on his life, and reflected his hope for the future. A thirteen year bid had robbed him (turnabout fair play) of a major part of his life. Now, he reflected backward in his poem to his mom. “I didn’t listen,” he said, “because I didn’t think the messenger was qualified,” he told her. “And the messenger was you.” He continued, “I thought I was a man, but I was an adolescent inside of a man’s body.” His moms told him he wasn’t a man yet, but “I didn’t listen. I didn’t think you knew nothin’ about the streets.”
His regrets turned to lessons for his son. “Listen,” he told his son in the second poem, “it’s not the messenger who saves you, it’s the message!” And for this brother, this warrior, “the message was Jesus,” he declared to the church audience in the video. This time, everybody was listening.
Jesus, Allah, Buddha, Jehovah…they all carry a message. I’m not trying to convert you, but you need a message. We get hung up on messengers, and miss the message, the message of an opportunity, another chance. The choice to take a different path. Because many times, we feel the messenger has no cred, and can’t tell us anything. But the reality is, a lot of us throw away the message because we don’t trust any messenger but the voice in our heads, and to anyone else, “You can’t tell me nothing.’” But get honest for a minute. Aren’t there some messages you wish you had paid attention to? And like the brother in the video, do you have a message for the next generation? He wants to leave his son a positive legacy, to learn from the sins of the father. I don’t want my sons following any of the destructive paths of my past. Fred…Rev. Fred, wants to offer the young men and women more than cuffs and free transportation in a government vehicle. In spite of our past, we can listen today…and have a word for the tomorrows of the next generation.
View the video Dr. Trulear referenced here.