Life Is So Good

24 Dec
Life Is So Good
In a nutshell – this is the story of a black man born in Texas in 1898.  He lived during three centuries and 2 millenia.  Because school was not an option for him, he was illiterate – for a hundred years…  But, in his old age, decided he would like to go to school – and so he did.

The powerful thing (to me) about this story is not the obvious message of “you’re never too old to learn, and change your life,” but rather the message of “no matter what life throws at you – YOU are the one that is responsible for how YOU choose to live it.”

After reading it the first time, I decided it would be mandatory reading for my kids – even though I didn’t have any at the time.  Now I do have children, and recently I assigned my 10-year-old to read it.  Judging by the dog-eared pages, he is enjoying it.  My hope is he will love it as much as I do and glean from it some life lessons that will make him a better person.  Lessons like:
People are people – Don’t hold it against them – No matter what.
When George was 10 he watched a young teenaged friend of his get lynched for something the boy didn’t do.
He witnessed – as a kid – another kid get murdered by a bunch of angry white folks for something the boy did NOT do.
George could have spent his entire life hating white people.
George could have lived his entire life justifiably angry – there were plenty of folks there that could have and should have stopped what was happening.
George could have spent his entire life upset with authority – the sheriff watched over the situation.
Instead, George listened to his father who told him:
“Some of those white folks was mean and nasty.  Some were just scared.  It doesn’t matter though.  You have no right to judge another human being.  Don’t you ever forget.”

When you don’t know what to say…  Say the wrong thing.
This isn’t really something I necessarily learned, but it is definitely something I can relate to –
Unintentionally hurting someone with foolish words and not being able to fix it.

George was 14 and working on a white family’s farm.  They had a daughter (Ashley) not too far off from his age and she would bring them lunch in the field.  Ashley was one of the first white people to speak to George simply as a person – this being the early 1900’s, in Texas, that’s a big deal.  Her being a white girl, him being a black boy, both being teenagers…  that’s a scary big deal for him.
After sometime of Ashley trying to just talk to George  she asked, “George, why don’t you ever talk to me?”
He just shrugged. So Ashe asked, “You don’t want to talk to me?”
George nodded and mumbled, “Yeah, I guess that’s it.”
Now, that wasn’t it at all…
George could tell right away that was the wrong thing to say – as she turned away with tears in her eyes.  He didn’t intend to hurt her, but he did – and he never did find a way to fix it.

When dealing with stubbornness – don’t throw stones, use sugar.
On their farm they had a faithful mule that did much of the work.  Of course, mules have a reputation as being stubborn – ol’ Blue could be one of them from time-to-time.  George tells the story of one such time in which he could not get Blue to do what needed to be done.  In a fit – the only one he admits to – George picks up a rock and throws it at the mule.  Instead of hitting Blue’s flank, he hits the mule in the eye…  George hurt the animal pretty badly and carried the regret the rest of his life.  George knew how to motivate the animal using something the animal liked – but this time he chose to throw stones instead and did far greater harm than he did good.
Surely that’s a parable everyone can understand…

The story of George Dawson

Yes... Yes it is.

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Posted by on December 24, 2011 in Book Reviews


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