L&T Publisher Earl Watt
I was the youngest in my family growing up, and I remember the first time I thought I was going to get someone in trouble for calling me a name.
I ran into the kitchen where my grandma was getting supper ready and told her about being called a name.
The look on her face clearly indicated I wasn’t going to get any sympathy.
This being a family newspaper I won’t repeat what she said, but the message was clear — first, I was tattling, and second, it doesn’t matter what someone calls you. I was kicked out of the kitchen and sent back to learn one of life’s hard lessons, one we all learned as children, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.”
There was also a lesson in her words that created the foundation for the future, “Quit being a victim.”
Name calling was part of the growing-up process, but we learned how to deal with it. We also learned how to stand up for ourselves.
I can tell you this, I didn’t go running to grandma the next time someone found a clever way to say something to me. I had to learn to deal with it myself.
And I’m so glad I did. To this day, people see some of the social media posts that continue to attack me or the newspaper, and they wonder how anyone can do the job I do.
They obviously never met my grandma.
Sticks and stones.
More importantly than learning to ignore words, we had to learn to avoid the victim mentality. We were not a wealthy family, but none of us felt like we were victims of society, or that the system was rigged against us. We were proud of what we did have and never ashamed of what we didn’t.
Recently, an African America woman named Candace Owens pointed this out to the Black Lives Matter movement, telling them that they are choosing to live the life of a victim.
“You are living a victim mentality rather than a victor mentality,” she told them while they tried to heckle her at a campus forum.
She also mentioned that for some reason, they are choosing to focus on being oppressed, speaking about the history of slavery and Jim Crow laws.
“None of you lived through that,” she told the Black Lives Matter protesters. “You are overly privileged Americans.”
She pointed out a deeper rift in our society today that is leading our entire political system — we are all either victims or oppressors, and for most, the defining characteristic is the color of our skin.
African American performer Kanye West took heat this weekend when he Tweeted support for Candace Owens, and then he followed up with another Tweet, saying, “Constantly bringing up the past keeps you stuck there.”
He also added, “There was a time when slavery was the trend, and apparently that time is still upon us. But now it’s a mentality.”
Candace and Kanye must have had a grandma like mine.
I never heard my grandma quote poetry, either, but she was telling us that we were the captain of our soul no matter what may come our way.
Too often we look to hold someone else accountable for our success or failure, even if our challenges may be greater than those of someone else.
I will be criticized for making this statement because there will be those that believe the color of my skin gave me some advantage.
They may be right. It certainly hasn’t felt like it to me, but even if it were true, that still is no excuse for someone else to give up or to go running to the kitchen expecting sympathy from grandma.
Even in our churches, we shy away from the harsh words being thrown at us, choosing to remain silent rather than advance the message of love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control — the fruits of the spirit.
Even in the Christian community, we play the victim rather than spread the good news.
I was the youngest, and those I played with most of the time were older and faster, and I could either play the game and push to catch up, or I could walk away, blaming them for having an advantage.
I chose to play, to participate.
Political parties no longer provide a vision but rather a statement of victimization, and they blame the other party of being the oppressors.
We’ve all bought into this idea that we are all victims, and everyone else looks at us as their oppressor.
It’s a good thing that most of the people from my grandma’s generation are in elderly care, because they would be spanking all of us for acting like this.
They were good about helping us when we really needed it, but they kicked us out of the nest, too, teaching us to fly on our own.
The choice is simple, be a victim and limit what you can accomplish, or take the challenges head on and prove you have what it takes to be in the game. Either way, it’s all on you.