These Words

will they revere these words as relics?  

will they say God wrote them?

will they be recited, said to be unaltered?  

will they change my words to be what they want?  

will they use my words to control — to manipulate populations?

to enforce crooked morality?  religious devotion?  divine mandates?

will they violate my intentions and substitute their own?  

once these words leave my heart and bloom in your mind

they are no longer mine.  They are yours, too.

how you use them — for poison or elixir — is up to you.  

i am a man frail as feathers; blind as darkness.

i share my ideas.  My experiences. My thoughts.  

pieces to a mural; moments in Eternity.   

these words, unwhole and Holy; tainted and Pure.

do you see God in them? do you see Your Self in them?

do you hear Devils in the syllables? do you hear Sin in my verbs?

 

ro lamb

Read more

Change of View

(Originally Posted on OCT 21, 2016)

I remember the day I knew I had to change how I viewed women.

It was sparked by a conversation on Twitter.  I came across a post that asked women to talk about how they were taught to protect themselves when in public places.  I was shocked to see hundreds of women responding. Not only responding, but responding with very similar answers.

I was horrified.  Partially, because for the first time, I realized the magnitude of violence that women are threatened with every time they leave their homes.

And I was also horrified because I have been privileged enough to not have noticed.  I didn’t understand and it made me uncomfortable.  I leaned in.  I needed to know.

I begin to study Feminism and Womanism.  I reached out to women and I asked questions.  Before then, I never considered myself to be sexist.  But how could I not be when the culture I live in is fundamentally so?  Sexism and misogyny have become staples in this society.

Not too long ago, I was riding in the car with a few high school aged guys.  I should have been prepared.  But I wasn’t prepared when they saw a girl crossing the street as we stopped at a light.  They put the window down to whistle and yell at her.  She ignored them.

After I told them to shut the window and leave her alone, I started to think about what had happened.  For the guys and the girl, it seemed like this was a normal occurrence.  Another girl for them yell at; another group of guys for her to ignore. The reality is that she should be able to walk through her community, or wherever, without being yelled at.  But instead, this act of emotional violence is passed off as harmless.

When I was younger I remember feeling out of place because I didn’t want to “holla” at random girls in the mall.  I wish I could say I was being noble – I was just scared.  I thought I was supposed to and because I didn’t, I felt like something was wrong with me.  So even though I wouldn’t consider myself to be sexist, I cannot deny that this culture has conditioned me to think about women in ways that enable the abuse and oppression of women.

The more I searched the more I could see it in every area of our culture.  But most devastating, I began to see it in myself.

When we are confronted with our own ugliness we have a choice. We can ignore it.  We can run away from it and pretend we never saw it.  But I knew for me, that wasn’t an option. I needed a new paradigm – a new way of seeing the women in my life.

Before you can build you have to destroy.

I had to destroy the idea of a woman that was given to me by culture.  My religion told me women are the weaker vessel.  My music told me that women are bitches and hoes.  The courts told me that we shouldn’t believe a woman that says she was abused unless she can prove it.  There are many voices and ideas about what a woman should be.  One way for these ideas to be uprooted is to allow the woman’s voice to be heard.  So I asked questions and I listened.  I wasn’t there to argue.  I was there to understand her and her experiences.

It was important that I build my ideas of who she is, based on who she is and not on what anyone else thinks she should be.    

And as I listened to my sisters’ experiences, something special happened.  I was humbled by their stories.  Their stories of struggle and neglect.  I listened as they shared what it feels like to not be heard – the experience of being passed over and forgotten about.

I was, and I still am, humbled by their strength.  Because although they have been through so much, they are still here.    Beautiful.  Graceful.  Powerful.

They are still here.

So don’t think I am here to be their knight-in-shining armor.  They don’t need a savior. They are their own saviors.  I stand with them, beside them, or wherever they need me to.  Because in the end, we are all in this together.

They don’t need my voice because they have their own.

 

Go listen.

 

Blessings,

Ro Lamb

 

Read more

What Is Reality?

(Originally Posted: Oct. 19, 2016)

How you answer this question determines your behavior.  The way you live is predicated on what you believe to be true — to be real — about yourself and the world around you.  The beauty of this life is that I do not have to subscribe to your reality.  I can choose to believe whatever I want.  Whether right or wrong — it is my choice.  One of humanity’s greatest qualities is our capacity to choose what truth we believe in.

People who impact the world don’t live in the reality that was given to them.  Steve Jobs was said to have a reality distortion field.  It was like he would mend reality to fit whatever he needed at the time.  He understood that in order to make a mark on the world he had to ignore the reality that was taught to him. Sometimes even to his detriment, he would ignore the rules that were placed before him.  As if he knew that this world would never be enough for him — he had to create his own.

Whether we know it or not we are creating the world we live in.  Our thoughts, our words, our deeds are always building…Something.

So what is reality?

Perception?  Is perception truly reality?  Is how we experience reality based on how we perceive people and events?

There is a popular verse in the Bible that speaks to this.  “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”  Substance; evidence; these are tangible.  Things hoped for; things not seen; these are things that only we can see.  Through faith, which is our ability to see, our words, and our deeds we manifest our reality for others around us to experience.  This process allows for the world to experience our inner reality.

We are always creating our reality.

In September, I participated in a walk to celebrate those who have the disease known as Sickle Cell Anemia.  I was there with my close friends, Tyreke and Shakeira Wesley, who have two beautiful children that were born with it.  They made my wife and me Godparents of their children, so it was an honor to be a support to them in that way.  The walk impacted me in ways that I did not expect.

There was a sense of celebration and it was beautiful to witness people encouraging one another in love and joy.  Building relationships and sharing their stories; they were united by a common hardship — a shared pain.  And through it all they ate, they danced, they laughed.  It was a party.  I saw a woman with a shirt that read, “FUCK SICKLE CELL”.  For me, it was a powerful statement.  There was no denial of Sickle Cell or pretending as if this is not something that people are living with.  It was a refusal to become Sickle Cell’s victim.

As a child, my dream was to play in professional basketball.  I knew very early on, if that was going to happen I needed to spend hours and hours on the court perfecting my craft.  So that’s what I did for the early part of my life — that’s all I did.  I have a lot of memories from those times and so many lessons about life that I use to this day.  My dad would take me to the gym at 5 or 6 o’clock in the morning, day in and day out.  Each day, the first part of the workout was ball-handling drills.  He would yell out, “You control the ball; don’t let the ball control you.”

What if we viewed reality in that way?  “You control reality; don’t let reality control you.”  The reason the people at the walk for Sickle Cell were able to celebrate is because somewhere along the way they decided that they were going to control Sickle Cell and not the other way around. On some level they realized that the only power Sickle Cell has the power they give it.

There are so many variables that we have no control over.  Storms rage and mountains loom over us.  Sometimes it can feel impossible to overcome all that stands in front of us.  It can feel hopeless.  And it will always feel that way as long as we focus on the obstacles.  In some ways we have made faith into a weapon that makes us immune to life.  As if we only have enough, our family members won’t get sick or die; the next plane we get on won’t explode in the air; and cancer won’t ever be able to touch us.  But faith doesn’t control reality.  Having faith has less to do with what is happening to you and more to do with how you are experiencing what is happening.  Having faith doesn’t move mountains — it moves you.

When we allow anything outside of ourselves to inform how we experience life, we give our power away.  We become victims.  It’s only when we accept our circumstances and see them as what they are, do we have the opportunity to control our perception, and therefore our reality.

It’s not what we see, it’s how we see it that determines our experience.

Blessings,

Ro Lamb

 

Read more