Day four of family role reversal takes us to another movie night at California State University Northridge (CSUN). My wife has been glued to the computer all day, and with her eyes and shoulders twitching from LED blindness and computer posture, my daughter, a family friend and I rescue her from the isolation of website backend madness.
We settle at our blanket base camp, spread out our picnic dinner, and in the ambience of a dusk sky and opening credits, I take leave in search of friends unknown.
This is the fourth evening I have found myself at this same venue, and in past quest for friends, I contained myself to the comforts of mingling within the crowd of moviegoers and vendors. And tonight, not wanting to be overly redundant, I have chosen a different tack in leaving the field in which the event is taking place. My aim in this decision… to find a more intimate and quite discussion… one that is away from the temptation of kettle corn, the thirst for fresh squeezed lemonade and the interruptions of Lilo and Stitch punch lines.
The campus is laid back, being the summer break that it is, but here and there are pockets of students grouped in casual banter.
I approach one such gathering, English major, Jamar and two of his classmates (not featured) as they sit in front of the library relaxing in post game chill after a match of rugby. Don’t know exactly why I am drawn to them, other than the influence my subconscious has pressed in pointing me in their direction.
I throw my first question, “If you had any advice, wisdom or council to share with the world… and they were listening… What would you say?”
It gets turned back on me when Jamar asks, “Before I answer, what has it been like meeting people every day, and what have you learned? I’m very interested, because I’m kind of like that type of person too… Everybody has a story to tell.”
I know now why I am here. You always hear me preach of the potential greatness of the upcoming generation. And right now, it is manifest upon me times three, Jamar and his two friends’; one is a Business major, the other Athletic Training major. And in the sum whole of each of them is a desire to be of service to the world around them. A vast difference from the “this is what I am going to do” vibe that I felt so often in my nineteen-eighties higher education experience. Or, was that because I was in the arts? Who knows? But at least I can say that I have survived the ego game, and to date, have avoided any enticement to remove my ear in a fit of “Look at me!” Mr. Van Gogh, don’t worry, I’ll always love you.
And not trying to be ghoulish with the loss of ear giggle, but in a roundabout way, an auditory reference does bridge into Jamar’s words of wisdom, “You have to listen to people… even if you think they will affect you in the least way.
He cites an experience. “I remember, once when I was talking to a homeless guy, just seeing where his life had been. He had his ups and downs just like anybody’s life. So it was cool to see that everybody has a story… we are all like grains of sand.”
We open into a conversation on the subject, sharing 365 stories of friends past, mixed with experiences Jamar has lived. I’m telling you, one of the greatest highlights of journey 365 has been making (not getting) the opportunity to chat with the youth. They are a powerful influencer of the way the world is heading, and whenever I allow myself to listen to their insights, their input is most often, filled with inspiring points and articulate wisdom.
Jamar is no exception, “One of my good friends, he’s a frat guy…” He respectfully reveals, “…and I don’t usually mess with frat guys.
Maybe it’s in my head… maybe it is not. But, I don’t have the best relationships with them… I think it’s because I’m black. It could be me… it could be them… who knows?
But either way, I like this guy because what he said. He’s a business type of cat, so he said he never does business with a guy until he talks to his secretary and his janitor. The two people that you just don’t have to treat well. If he treats them like shit, he won’t to do business with them. It’s not about having money… It’s about having character.”
It never fails, whenever I follow any peaceful impression of mind, I am directed to people of like mind. People like Jamar. I know, it sounds so metaphysical, and trust me when I say, “My life is definitely not new age.”
But the point is, Listen; and when you hear it… make the time to Follow.
Jamar has things of meaning to share, and to have passed on the pull to speak with him would have only left his voice unheard. And now meeting him, I feel it a privilege to publish his insights.
Of Jamar’s character, and his outlook towards his co-humans. “You’ve got to give people the benefit of the doubt. That’s the way I try to live. Sometimes it bites me back, but most of the time… I just feel good about it.”
“We are all very interconnected…” Jamar grows his statement, “…I fell like if we all wanted to make the world a better place… it wouldn’t take much from each person on an individual basis. It just takes a change of mindset.”
“What’s ahead Jamar?” I question.
“Where I would see us, and where I would council us, would be in two different places. He preempts.
“I would council us to scale back our living. Just because it makes it easier to be communal, which is the most proficient way to live and work. But that’s not necessarily a reality.
Where I see us? I don’t necessarily see that gap between the small population, where the large wealth is, and the big population, where the small wealth is… getting much smaller… I just don’t know where I see it, man…! I really don’t know!
It’s desperate times for a lot of people… a large percentage of the world. Revolution is coming soon… I think.”
Revolution is no new concept to 365. Yet in the mentioning of it, rarely is the very concept of bloodshed expressed. Sure, we have had a few who have predicted a doomed future. But the general assessment of the mass of 365 (now somewhere around 1500 conversations) agrees in one unified prediction. Turmoil is ahead, but in it will come a great resolve. A unification of sorts, and day’s that so many are looking forward to in one-way or another.
Per the often mentioned revolution? The general consensus is this. The war will not be one of bomb and gunfire (although I’m sure there will be horrors to bear, history has clearly taught us that). It will be a war of enlightenment, where battles will be fought via streams of information and applied actions from what I have come to endear as, “The Silent Majority.”
The unheard voices of you, Jamar and I are powerful. And if used as weapons of unity in respecting our circles of influence, I question one premise. “How far can we sound our message?”
The trumpet blows, the castle gates fall, the troops deploy and the banner rises with words of glory, “We are all in this thing together!”
Jamar… thank you for your courage, you are fighting in the right trench, and your charge of command is accurate, “We are all very interconnected.”