Over the last few days I have heard story after story of what people go through in their lives and it has been making me think about how we are so quick to judge. My last blog entry was about taking the time to open the book and not just judge the cover.
My story of overcoming great obstacles is uplifting to many, but in my opinion what I went through pales in comparison to the people I have been talking with over these last few days. Just today I was talking with a group of girls who are struggling with their peers, and trying not to get into fights. As they begin to talk with me I can see and feel the anger bleeding off of them, they are getting more and more worked up as they talk.
The more we talk the more I try to steer the conversation towards understanding where the anger is coming from and if it is anger at all. The girls begin to open up and start talking home, about their past. Without getting into details too much this is what I heard:
- My father abused me, touched me, my mom’s new husband is always touching me and mom believes that it is my fault.
- I just want to be hugged by my mom, I want to hear her say that she is proud of me, but those things never happen.
- We have almost no food in the house, and things are usually in chaos.
- Why does my boyfriend care for me more than my mom.
- My Grandmother did the same to my mom as she is doing to me, I don’t want to be like that
Then I was talking with these two boys and again the stories they told me crushed my soul:
- When I was 12 my cousin and I were riding and ATV and a dirt bike through the neighborhood, I was behind my cuz, he was on the dirt bike, When I heard 2 pops…Bang…Bang…and my cuz went down. I stopped and ran over to him and it was the first time I saw someone die right in front of me. As he is telling me this story tears are welling up and start to stream down his face. You can see and feel the pain, the uncertainty of life for this young man.
- He and his friend are now in a gang, they joined because they needed to feel like they belonged to something, to feel important to someone else.
- After being initiated into the group by one of their brothers, they began running with the #200’s a 7 Mile Gang that match up with the bloods.
- They feel love, they feel important.
- One night they are out with his brother, when they find out a member of another gang stole some of their stuff. They go out searching for this man, and they find him. This boys older brother pulls out a gun and begins threatening the man. Give us our shit back…it goes on for a minute…the brother gets upset and pulls the trigger. The man drops to the ground dead. These boys see this and have no idea what to feel. They are scared, sad, and lost.
- Watching someone die at any age is scary and brings about a variety of feelings, many of which the most balanced individual will struggle with, but a kid…
I have heard story after story of the struggles of our kids and have watched them walk into a school that is not equipped to fully educate them, let alone help them deal with REAL LIFE. Kids in all walks of life, the poor and the rich, the white and the black, we all have events in our lives that shape us, and not always for the best. We need to understand that kids will become adults and these events if not adequately dealt with will manifest themselves into poor decisions, criminal activities, violence both internally and externally, and other destructive behaviors. These are not bad people, they are products of their environment, our environment. It may not be our fault, but it damn well our responsibility to help build our people. We need to listen to people, learn their stories before we write them off as “BAD”.
When we ask the simple the questions like, Are you ok? What is going on? Or we say, I’m here if you want to talk, we learn that these people are not bad, they are just struggling. By reaching out and caring, we are changing lives, helping them begin to process all the traumas, helping them understand that what has happened to them can help build them if we talk it out and deal.
To be continued…..