Sticks, Stones, and Weak Bones

“A man who stands for nothing will fall for anything.” -Malcolm X

Those who know me well, personally and professionally, are already scratching their head wondering why I am quoting Malcolm X. All things considered he and I have nothing in common in terms of politics, culture, ideology, theology, or life experience. That would be true. Yet, I’ll freely admit that I admire Malcolm X. Why? Because he had testicles the size of cantaloupes. Love him or hate him, he had the courage to stand up for what he thought was right. He had the audacity to look at anyone who dared challenge his beliefs and call them out on it. He had the intellect to outwit and outmaneuver his opponents. Above all of this, he was not afraid to die for his beliefs. The available narratives indicate that during the last days of his life in 1965, he knew… he didn’t just believe, he knew…. that he was going to die. Knowing this, he knowingly and freely walked into the Audubon Ballroom on February 21, 1965 in New York City to face a wall of gunfire while his wife looked on. 

I have found in life, sometimes needing a wheelbarrow to carry your testicles is all it takes for you to succeed or to simply survive. Sometimes having no fear of the consequences is what it takes to right what you perceive to be wrong. In the vast majority of scenarios in life, staring death in the face and smirking at the grim reaper despite the overwhelming odds will lead maybe not to victory in your lifetime, but in the lifetime of those for whom you may be fighting. 

I can hear it now. Some of you are out there snorting like a Brahma Bull. Some of you are pounding your chest and putting on your war paint. Some of you are certain you are ready to drink from the skulls of your enemies. I’ve encountered a few of these over the past few weeks in both my personal and professional life, and I’ve come to a very disconcerting conclusion: the overwhelming majority of you have fallen hook, line, and sinker for one of the greatest lies ever told. What lie might that be? Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me. 

Quite frankly, I’m sick of hearing what many of you will do when the boogeyman shows up at your door. I am not in the business of being dishonest with my clients or my readers, so I’ll speak my heart and mind on this. If you are afraid of being called names in light of the current political and cultural situation, you are a repugnant coward. If you are afraid of losing possessions because you said what you really believe to be true in life, then you really didn’t believe it in the first place. That makes things worse because having said that, not only are you a coward but you are also a liar. Having convictions in life is folly unless you are willing to speak and act on them.

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me. That is, unless your employer sees a Facebook post that you made. That Tweet you sent? Well, you’ll either genuflect at the altar of all you despise, or you and your family will pay a hefty price. Kiss that oceanside condo at that Hilton Head golf course goodbye. Those vehicles that look fabulous rolling past the president of your homeowner’s association? They’ll be on a used car lot next week. You’ve lost everything right? If only you just suppressed those deeply held convictions. Meanwhile, you get angry when you see groups such as Antifa, or any other group to be fair, acting on behalf of what they believe. The methods in which they express their anger may be unpalatable. Their ideology may disgust you. But like it or not, they are enforcing change. And they are breaking every bone in your miserable body with words.

Wait a minute, you might query. Words can’t hurt me. Only sticks and stones can break my bones! Well, let’s take a look at that, shall we?

You are a talented business analyst at a well-respected financial consulting firm. You are a staunch supporter of “conservatism,” both politically and culturally. You are a traditional Christian, and you believe that there should be order in society. You have “old fashioned” values in terms of gender and sexuality. A few months ago, you made a comment on a post on social media. About six months later, you get called into the old man’s office. He wants to know what this is all about. Do you really believe this? The cat’s out of the bag. The company has an image to protect. You have one of two options. First, take down the post and issue an apology to any and all persons who were offended by your convictions that you dared to express. Or two, clean out your desk. We’ll mail you your final check. Most, if not all of you reading this, will take what was behind curtain number one. You would apologize, and we both know it.

Let me ask you this. Does this change what you truly believe? Does it reinforce your beliefs, or does it make you reexamine who you are? The job and all those perks in terms of your lifestyle at this point are moot. No matter what you did or didn’t do, you paid the price for your beliefs and your By God First Amendment Constitutional Rights! 

Statements that can land you in a boiling pot can lead people to believe that you are a Nazi, a socialist, a communist, or the dreaded racist. There is no coming back from that one, is there? Today, people avoid being called a racist at all cost because of the stigma attached to it. The veracity of the claim is of no consequence. You said something that you believed that led someone to perceive you in this way. Fire is accompanied by smoke after all, isn’t it? 

We have established that words can hurt you. We have established that many, if not most of you, will succumb to sociopolitical pressure to avoid being called a name and losing your precious belongings. If you are so afraid of words, what would lead a reasonable person to believe that you have the courage to defend yourself or your family in a physical, life or death encounter? The answer to that question is relatively simple and embarrassingly obvious. 

On a daily basis, a man must look in the mirror, if only for a brief moment, and examine himself. What do I believe? If that is what I believe, am I willing to die for it? Am I willing to face public ridicule for it? This leads to further introspection. How does your wife look at you? What kind of example are you setting for your children? If your sole concern in this life is that the beliefs that make you the man you claim to be are superseded by your desire to maintain a lifestyle replete with all the trimmings of capitalism, then you’re not a husband. You are a sugar daddy. You are not a father, but a year-round Santa Claus that teaches nothing of substance to your children. The most painful part of this? They know this about you while you live under a foggy delusion of manhood. You are a fraud. All the while, you beat your chest while yelling “Molon Labe” holding your Gadsden Flag. Please stop. This is becoming embarrassing. If you aren’t willing to speak what you believe with your lips the consequences be damned, you will not defend it with your fists. 

Let’s go ahead and address the elephant in the room. What happens if I lose my house or my Mercedes because I dared to speak my beliefs? I’ll put this as simply as I can because it is a relatively simple concept. You simply get off of your lazy backside, get to work, and get another one. Who knows, you may take a step up in life.

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me. I’d be willing to see what that X-Ray looks like for millions of American “men.” My wager? There is a bone missing. It’s the backbone. 

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