About 17 years ago while I was having a cigarette outside the undergraduate library of Wayne State university, a young black man, who was about my age then and dressed in a dark blue suit,a white shirt and sporting thick rimmed glasses, approached me. With a very calm and respectful yet determined manner says "may I ask you a question?"
I said "sure, go ahead".
He said "If I let you borrow my suit would you return it to me with all kinds of holes and tears in it?"
confused, I said "Of course not"
He said "Well, God gave you this body. Your suit. Why are you tearing it apart with this cigarette?"
I remember putting my head down in shame and feeling all kinds of embarrassed as I didn't know what to say then.
But now I do.
I would like to tell that random person "thank you" as he was one of the many signs God has put my way to help me quit 9 years ago.
God bless the random and seemingly small acts that have a major and positive effect
So after a Ramadanic hiatus from reading, I got back to and finished Hillbilly Elegy. Here are a few thoughts about it but would love to hear yours
- I thought the author was very courageous in sharing his struggles and giving an insider's view of a culture not often discussed in popular literature (or at least I don't think it is....but maybe I'm not the best measuring stick)
- I can understand why people who identify with/as hillbilly or working class white would have an issue with the book. The sense of "don't air your dirty laundry" comes through as he describes the culture. And even though he romanticizes certain parts of it, his description of the culture is sobering
- I didn't feel that there was much substance from a "what can be done about this" perspective but then again I don't think this was the author's intent.
My main take away though is that he eventually made it. Despite all what went wrong, still some things went right and he (a lucky son of a bitch as he himself puts it) made it. There is a sense of hopefulness. A sense that, you know, if we address some of these issues we can save a lot of kids in similar situations from the dim future they face currently.
I couldn't help but compare and contrast this book to that of Ta-Nehisi Coates however. Different yet very similar as I find both to speak of a dim future for children born in a certain set of circumstances.
What I find strikingly different though is that the set of negative conditions in JD's book are, to a major extent, self made and limited to the immediate actors within the child's life. Whereas in Coates' book, in addition to a similar set of circumstances a child may face, there is still this societally and systematically pervasive set of obstacles that will take more than one generation to overcome.
The major difference between the two stories as I see it is still that of, well, black and white.
What did you think?
If given the ability to wave a magic wand and change something, what would it be?
I would choose to eliminate the metaphorical pedestal for I believe it to be the most destructive thing we do to ourselves. No, not by placing ourselves on said pedestal but rather by placing others upon it and then kinking our necks as we cock our heads in puzzlement over how such perfection is humanly possible. Be it a beloved actor, a religious figure, an athlete or even a keyboard warrior, we tend to view the ones we admire, especially if we admire them for something we lack, without any imperfections thus creating an unhealthy and an unattainable standard. At the same time we rob them of the right to be human and therefor we see any sign of humanness as a "fall from grace" that not only shakes our perception of them but also of the world around us because afterall if "so and so" can't even be "such and such" then what kind of a world do we live in? Well my friends, that world is an imaginary one that we tend to create for ourselves to escape some realities and avoid truly living.
Life is a symphony of imperfections dotted with some perfect moments. The sooner you understand that the sooner you'll get rid of that tension in your neck and realize that the ebbs and flows of life affect us all.
Palestinian, Muslim, American, Husband, Father, Academic, Pharmacist, Coffee Addict, Nutella phene, Pseudo writer, Soccer player, former Canadian, Community servant, Pinch hitter imam, interfaith ninja, Intellectual vigilante, and the undisputed KING of snark