I loaned some money to my nephew. He is a good kid, but young and not really an energetic kid. He would, when he was young, complain whenever he had to walk too far or sit too long, but he would always respond well to correction. He had and still has a gentle nature. Anyway, I loaned the kid sixty dollars. He was late in getting it back to me and I decided to instill a lesson in him. So I set a deadline, and said this is when you pay it back or don’t ever ask me for a favor. Harsh. Maybe. I called him on the day and he said I have it, but it’s in the bank, so next week I’ll get it to you uncle.
“No,” I said, “I’ll come and take you to the bank and you will pay me back on time and we will be good and all will be well.”
So I’m lecturing this poor kid on the way to the bank. When he starts asking me if I heard about the guy in the next city who stole some money from his friend’s business and then holed up in his house and the cops had to drag him out. Some shit like this, just some typical news story. I said look there are 20,000 people in that city and one guy had a bad time. Maybe one in our city will break down next month. So what? The news reports the exceptions, not the rule. Don’t worry about the news.
It has dawned on me though, I spent my life worrying about what the news told me to worry about. My parents were not much help, we were very poor and I studied despite them not caring much, my mom cared only that I get a degree. But I studied not what I wanted but what I thought would get me a job. I did so based on some news clip or blurb I heard about how the liberal arts majors (the stuff I enjoyed), these kids in liberal arts were struggling to find jobs.
Never has it occurred to me to do what I like. Except this little site lets me speak my mind. (Under an alias, because I’m still a coward.) This little site, the internet and writing in general have given me a tiny little voice in the vast world. I’m very grateful.
Back to the kid though, I made him pull the money out the bank. Hand it to me. Then I gave it back and made him buy me lunch. Look, he is 20 and braver than I ever was, he could have blown me off, but like a said, good kid.
I hope the lesson was a good one, I think it was. Pay your debts, but expect compassion from family, right? Did he even get it? I don’t know.
But the other lesson, the better lesson, your lesson, is to ignore the news, the world is full of good people not the people you see on the news in America. Events are tame and beautiful, not exciting like the news would have you believe.
Don’t be driven by fear. Let your internal drivers be knowledge, truth, and excellence, whatever but NOT fear. If you find yourself quoting a news story to someone or to yourself especially, just stop, the likelihood of that story being true in America, is very slim, and the likelihood of it being the exception to the rule is very wide.
So be smart out there, people. Pay your debts, be kind to family, ignore the news, and let your passion drive you not fear.
I’m far too old to have just figured this out, but I did.