Save my Son

Posted: November 9, 2012 by Keith Townsend in Uncategorized

I’m watching “Save My Son” on TV ONE and its reminding me of what it was like growing up in Chicago with a limited lens of success.  When you grow up in the inner city your view of what’s a hero and success is warped.  The other day, I got into spirited debate on FB with someone I was in elementary school with on the merits of the teachings of the leader of a major street gang in Chicago.

His argument is that a man’s teachings should be independent of a man’s past actions or the actions of his organization.  If the laws of the organization are good then it’s not relevant that the organization has warped the views of those teachings.  He likened it to Christianity.  Christianity in itself is pure but so much bad has been done in its name.  My challenge to him was to at least show me a single organization that was doing inspiring things because of this man’s teachings.  I’m still waiting on an example.

This is important because children and especially young men don’t respect teachings that are not backed by actions.  They look at the life of the men behind the teachings.  If you have children and have ever thought or said, “Just do what I say and not what I do” you get the point.  Just as unscrupulous ministers can use the Word of God to achieve their worldly goals, I believe this man and his followers are doing the same with his teachings.  We are seeing the results of their leadership and it’s hard to fight.  I remember talking with my peers at the age 16.  Success to us was getting a nice used car with a nice sound system and maybe some nice wheels.  Note that this didn’t necessarily include moving out of your parent’s house. That was a bonus.

This was and I believe still is the definition of making it.  And what did the lives of the men that “made it” look like in the Englewood neighborhood of Chicago?  Some had good jobs but the majority sold drugs.  When they achieved the goal of buying their nice used care with “rims and sounds” they were honored in the same way you’d honor someone at work for getting a big promotion.  They’d get slapped on the back and congratulated and other men would look at it and the vicious cycle would continue.

We couldn’t see the world beyond the borders of our neighborhood.  I’d sit and have conversations with my cousins on how we’d make it and continue to live in the hood.  There’s nothing wrong with living in the

Don Thompson – CEO MacDonald’s Corp

This is what was so inspiring about the TV program I watched tonight. Dr. Steve Perry has always impressed me as a dedicated educator but he gave a great framework for what’s needed to snatch our young men from the influence of these people.  Young men need other men to look up to and push and inspire them.  They need purpose and a feeling of family.  Both examples I saw tonight were inspiring.  I know that it takes a lot more than what was provided in the few days he was involved in their lives but it was still a great framework for success.

neighborhood that we grew up in but we just couldn’t see beyond it.  So, when a man who leads an organization of thousands of men gives you hope backed with a message that seems principled then I can understand the desire to follow. But they’ve had years and years of leadership in these neighborhoods and not much has changed in a positive way.

This is why the success of men like Collin Powell, Barack Obama and MacDonald’s CEO Don Thompson is so inspiring.  They are the difference in what true hope and change looks vs. a marriage of hope.  They help to provide visions of what possible for minorities who with some help and hard work are able to reach the highest levels of success in our nation.  But as I look back on my own life I realize that it’s not easy.  I had my mom and dad and a slew of social program and church to help mold me into the man that grew beyond the boundaries of the neighborhood.

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