A good friend of mine told me one day that everyone is not pure of heart, everyone is not of pure motives, everyone does not have a pure mind.
It struck me that even at my age, I can feel betrayed and disappointed in people that I have encountered who I thought were working for the same thing I was working for.
The sting of it and the cut of it is deep.
One result was me doing what I have often done, examining myself ad nauseum to see where I missed the mark, where I didn't notice the envy or jealousy, the narcissm or greed. When did I just gloss over their reasons for why they should "get paid" or how that out-of-country trip was "for the people" while you were getting paid in a used gift card from a client whose lie of "it is important to me" turned into "well, times are tight."
The well spung up in a week of back-to-back reveals and it made me wonder was my head buried in the sand, did I owe those with fewer resources more because I made a choice that was different? Was my work in education just as important as their protests on the police lines? Was the work of clergy friends as important as their quest to shame the church elders? What about the ones who were also college educated but called older college educated activists, "house negroes" and "sellouts" because we had books in our home or owned our homes. We saw the ones raise money for "safe houses" that turned out to be a farse with the people fabricating being chased down by police when others have driven all over the city to never be stopped.
Was it all smoke and mirrors? Was it really a game and a joke? Was someone pulling puppet strings?
Being an introvert, an amateur historian and one others turned to for wisdom, I decided to apply some of it to myself and my own feelings. What would I advise me if I were on the other side of the table?
We all had a choice, even if we sat in inadequate schools. There have been news reports after report of kids who did study, who did make it, who made the teachers teach them. There were others who decided to go with the crowd and skip class, hang out on the corner, or engage in early premarital sex that mades St. Louis the #1 place for STDs and many out-of-wedlock births. Choices were made.
One set of parents, thirty years ago, made a decision to fill their home with books so their children could always have that thing that many a slave wanted - knowledge. Another set filled their home with designer gym shoes and measured their worth by someone's name on a bag, they had nothing for a rainy day or even to bury their loved ones. Who is wrong in the way their lives ended up in thirty years. One doesn't just end up in a situation, regardless of how many structures are placed around them
As I began to discuss my feelings and observations with peers, as I challenged my own world view, realizing that my parents made some things accessible to me that put my life perspective in a different lens, not everyone wanted to work hard, study hard, or make the hard choice to not indulge.
In church today, pastor talked about the struggle of the flesh and the spirit. He, and scripture backs it up, said that the flesh will always win out if the spirit is not grounded, strong, and the focus. We all have temptations, I like a nice purse just like the next woman, but know that money is better spent on lessons for my daugthers, books for her, and investment in my son's college aspirations. He acted out the war that takes place and the strength of character it takes to actually follow after the spirit, to decide to be different, to endure the slurs of being "bougie" or "uppity" or "house negro" as one puts in their ear plugs to drown out the noise while they study. It takes discipline to be young and put the money in the bank because they understand money makes money, versus running to the nearest weave or blue jean store to create a false image of prosperity. Choices abound.
The last few days were especially hard as unveiling and unveiling continued. Did I just miss it? Was my willingness to go places I had never been and work with people I had never seen before simply a ruse on their part? On my part? Was it really about community building or simply, "Imma get mines?"
Questions filled my weekend as gloomy clouds and unseasonable cold filled the sky.
Will goodness abound? What about when the money is gone? What about when the attention is turned to other directions? What about the summer when bodies are out and tempers flare from being too close and too broke?
As the weekend comes to a close and we enter the first week of summer break, anwers are far away. Pondering continues, and I still think it was worth it. If for anything, it made us all think and see that what needs to change is nothing new under the sun.