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There has been a trend lately among NFL players and others. I’m not talking about kneeling, I’m talking about making changes in their own community. It started with Colin Kaepernick, who has been raising money and handing out backpacks in lower income communities. It continues with Nick Foles, a Super Bowl winner and MVP who decided to be a pastor in schools in his own community. There is also Chris long who donated his entire years’ salary to Charlottesville after the horrible and tragic events that left one person dead and others severely wounded. This was his hometown, and he felt compelled to help it heal.
Malcom Jenkins has started his own foundation known as the Malcom Jenkins foundation, which has programs and initiatives that are dedicated to mentoring and helping inner city youth become upstanding citizens in their communities. He also started The Let’s Listen Together Initiative where he meets with the superintendent of police about social justice issues, and the killings of unarmed people of police.
Bernard Reedy, a veteran of the New England Patriots, works a job where he makes $11/hour transporting the disabled. He does this on his days off during and after the season is over. He enjoys this work as much as he does playing football.
Malcom Jenkins, Torrey Smith, Chris Long, and possibly LeGarrette Blount have said that they will not be participating in the traditional visit to the White House. Generally, when a team wins a championship, they are invited to meet the president at the White House and these players have opted out of it. This is a form of protest that players have used in the past, however it has made more news since President Trump came into office. When asked why, Long replied, “When my son grows up and I believe that the legacy of our president is going to be what it is, I don’t want him to say 'Hey dad, why did you go when you knew it was the wrong thing to do?'”
That response kind of resonated with me as a father, and role model for my son. I want to lead by example.
That brings me back to the title of this blog, never forget where you came from. These guys are NFL superstars, yet each has done his part to help out their communities by being proactive in them. They could be off on a boat, blowing their salary, yet they choose to use it for the betterment of their hometowns and the people in it. There are plenty of average people who do this on a local, national, and global level as well.
The actor Jeff Bridges is also a national spokesperson for No Kid Hungry, which helps provide school and after school meals to children in more poverty stricken areas. This really got me to thinking. If I were to start a non-profit organization, what would it be? Now whatever you choose to do, it doesn’t have to be a nonprofit, or it doesn’t have to include endorsement or large sums of money. It can be cleaning up a highway, donating old clothes to a homeless shelter, or working in soup kitchen. It’s up to you what you do. I would like to ask that anyone who reads my ramblings just do something. Think about what social plight you are passionate about and just do it.
Look at MLK for example, he visited prisons, he tried to help the less fortunate and misguided that he met, among other things. He didn’t want his living to be in vain, and neither do I. I think at one point or another in our lives, we have all been downtrodden by some kind of burden, so why shouldn’t we help others who are in the same position?
There are many things I am passionate about. Homelessness, education, social justice, and suicide prevention, just to name a few. I do what I can, and want to better my community, I’m just not sure how yet. But when I figure it all out, by God, I’m going to take off running with it. It may not be today or tomorrow, but one day soon. In the meantime, I suggest looking up local humanist groups and other charities that you might like to volunteer for.
As Henry Rollins said, “We as people are ungovernable, we’re not bad people, we just have too many ideas going at once.” “Therefore, I’m here to talk about you.” “Not me, I, or we, but you.” We all have to find that thing we are passionate about, and do something about it as an individual. We also have to understand the cultural differences between communities and countries. Someone in North Dakota will have a different culture of life than someone in North Carolina. If we don’t understand this, it can create what is known as donor fatigue.
We often take a western approach, especially when it comes to other nations, however it can happen at home as well. Take for example, we get all ramped up, bomb the shit out of a country who has nothing to do with us, or as it’s known in politics, “giving them democracy.” We then help them rebuild, we hold our heads up high believing that we are the good guys for helping them rebuild. We come back years later to find that country is poor, desolate, and back in control of a dictator.
Here at home, it might be cleaning up a neighborhood only to broken windows and vandalization when we return. Then we get upset and want to know why this happened after all we did, without getting to the root of the problem itself. That’s donor fatigue. We didn’t understand the cultural differences and problems that they may be facing, we just wanted to inflate our egos. Until we talk to those people and understand where they are coming from, we can’t help fix the problems.
To me, that’s the start of solving the problem. Talk to the people and most importantly, listen. Then you can go after the problem with a better mindset and approach the issue as needed, instead of going into an issue blind. Then you can do good and feel good, instead of just inflating your ego and feeling good.
Once you find what you’re passionate about and you understand it, hit it with a full head of steam and don’t let up. You can do it, I can do it, everyone can do it, but it has to start with you. Not I, me, or we, but you.