PROMISE KEEPERS …

I don’t march.

I hate crowds. I hate heat. I hate chanting things. I hate carrying signs. I’m not all that fond of people, in general. And it all feels so pointless to me. I’m not sure, in my lifetime anyway, what in the world has ever been changed by a march.

The only way marches have any sort of impact is if they are led by charismatic leaders who give important speeches, with memorable words and powerful ideas at those marches. Or if there is some specific legislation that is being asked for, that gets voted on, passed and signed.

Otherwise, it’s just a bunch of people showing a bunch of other people how they feel about something.

Isn’t that what we do on Facebook every single day, anyway?

The only time I was asked point-blank to attend a march was about 22 years ago. My father organized a Nashville based contingent to go to Washington D.C and participate in the Promise Keepers march.

I love my father and I was very close to saying yes to him…ONLY because it was him asking me. But then, once he explained to me that they were driving up in a van and sleeping in sleeping bags in a church, I was pretty much out.

I did enough of that when I was a kid to spread the experiences around to several other people. So it was going to be a hard pass from me.

But beyond that surface stuff, I just kept asking myself why people were doing this. Why do you need to march on Washington D.C to keep your promises to your wife? It really bothered me.

So, I asked my dad, “Dad, does it matter to you if I march as long as I keep my promises?”

He shook his head and laughed, “No, son. It doesn’t matter to me.”

So, I stayed home and kept my promises, while the other 22 guys sweated it out in a van and slept on the floor of a church…then marched around in circles declaring their intentions to keep some promises or whatever.

I spoke to my father last night and asked him how many of those guys are still married.

As it turns out, about half of them are divorced, now.

The march couldn’t make it last. Because marches don’t do that. They make you feel like you’re changing the world, in that moment. But what’s actually happening is you’re getting some sort of adrenaline rush or endorphin high from being around the crowd of people chanting and singing and doing whatever.

It’s the same thing that happens at a stadium concert or what happened at Woodstock or what happens in a mega-church worship session.

Crowds moving toward a common goal release all these hormones in people and make them feel a certain kind of euphoria. And if the context is hoping you change something, then you’ll feel like you’re changing something. But you aren’t. You’re just feeling really good.

Real change is hard and it’s a process that must be worked in private moments, when no one else is looking. Not in public moments when nothing is really on the line.

I’m old enough now to have seen this cycle of whatever you want to call it, happen several times in America: something bad happens to a black person – someone gets it on camera or tape – it illicits outrage – people take to the streets – then someone takes it too far – more people die and more property is damaged – a bunch of politicians jump on the bandwagon and come up with a catch phrase or hashtag or red ribbon or whatever – then come the benefit concerts and telethons where everyone gets to virtue signal so much you can light Vegas with it – then someone writes a song (yuk) – then it gets a moment of silence on the Oscars – then the next crisis that must be attended to right now shows up on the 24-hour news cycle. By the time Chris Rock is making jokes about it on an HBO special, we’re done for a few years.

Does anything really ever change? Not really. And if it does, it’s probably not because of anything that happens in any part of the cycle above.

Real change happens when one person decides to break out of their comfort zone and go on an uncomfortable journey. When they face things they never wanted to face and ask questions they never wanted to ask and make decisions that are hard to make…only then does the earth move beneath our feet.

I never went to a Promise Keepers meeting or march or rally or whatever. But I’ve been married almost 29 years. And some days it sucks. And a lot of days it’s just a day. And some days it’s awesome. But everyday it’s a choice. Do I pack up the Mustang and check out? Or do I pull myself together, hug my kids, take the dog for a walk, punch the heavy bag a little, and walk back in that house and face whatever we’re going through together – together?

The answer to that question is where change happens. It’s where promises are kept. It’s where hours turn into days and days turn into months and months turn into years and years turn into a life and life turns into a legacy.

Our problems with race in this country have never been (and never will be) solved with marches and protests and riots. They will only be solved by people doing the hard work of the day-in-and-day-out. They will be solved by tiny, difficult choices that are almost too small to see in the moment but huge in the scheme of things.

Sting wrote, “men go crazy in congregations but they only get better one by one …”

I think that’s just about right.

Yesterday, I was supposed to not post on Facebook to stand in solidarity against racism. So I didn’t. But then I kept seeing these profile pictures of just black and I realized I didn’t do something right. By the time my wife and I talked about it and figured out we hadn’t changed our profile to black, it was over. Then I saw where some people were posting that Black Lives Matter. Then others say ALL lives matter. Then blue lives matter.

It’s literally the worst game of political “who’s on first?” we’ve ever played in this country. And honestly, I can’t keep up with all the virtue signaling I’m supposed to be doing, how I’m supposed to do it, and who I’m supposed to aim it toward.

We’ve had about enough symbolism in this country. It’s time to do the hard work. Or 20 years from now, we’ll be back in this same cycle, doing all of this nonsense again.

And a lot of people who had every intention of keeping their promises will be divorced.

R

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14 thoughts on “PROMISE KEEPERS …

  1. I really appreciate your thoughts. Your wording is perfect; your thoughts are very clear, and it comes from your heart. When I consider the blog I posted last night. I realize I spoke from a place that I typically only share with a few people. I don’t think I’m sorry because we all have moments of “I can’t take anymore” but I sorta feel bad that I exposed this part of myself to others. Your message here is a model for me to learn from. And I appreciate that. Keep writing and I will reading and learning. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Regie, Thank you. I enjoyed your thoughts so much.
      You have a way of writing about life that is serious but humorous too. I read this and laughed thinking about all these people sleeping in a church in sleeping bags
      to attend their promise keepers meeting .
      It sounded like my type of agony as I am an introvert.
      You are right that change comes individually and not by the masses.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I could not agree more with your last 2 posts. I simply love your thoughts and the way you articulate them. Keep up.the great work!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What a wonderful gift you have, Regie! You crawl into my head, add a bit of credibility to my thoughts, clarify some of my confusion, examine the issue at hand, interject a little story or two, and offer some comfort to know I am not alone as I ponder and question. I am very grateful to know you!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Oh, boy, I sure hope I am not judged by my lack of virtue signaling…I can’t Even keep up with my own personal business half the time let alone be expected to cleverly comment on issues that seem like people only know about because of Facebook, Twitter or some social platform anyway…seriously. If we all just did our part of the daily hard work, I think we’d be amazed…and we would definitely see more good than we do by posting a black screen…🙄. Thanks for your clear headedness…again, Regie!

    Like

  5. A few people in my world have shared your thoughts, this has been my response. I hope you would consider it

    “I’ve read this a few times now, the heart is in the right place I believe, but this is a window into the idea of privilege. It’s not about what the marching means to you. Thats not what protest is, it’s about getting your message to as many people as possible. Especially when your message is stop killing us. I’ve seen soo many people realize in the last week that they have missed that all along. They had the privilege to consider their thoughts on what “protesting means to them” while others are braving a pandemic to say “HELP US WE ARE BEING KILLED”. I hate walking, I hate being sweaty, I don’t like crows and I don’t give a shit about any of that because our brothers and sister need our help TO SAVE THIER LIVES. And clearly, getting everyones attention is working. So at the end of the day, do you want to prove a point about their protest or do you want to do your part to save them from death. Thats a clear one to me. ”

    This isn’t an inditement, and I am trying to come to you with this with love. I’d ask you to consider this:

    Proverbs 24:11-12
    “Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter. If you say, “But we knew nothing about this,” does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who guards your life know it? Will he not repay everyone according to what they have done?”

    I’ve seen the fruit of this movement wake the eyes of many people I thought I’d lost to the rhetoric of hate. I’ve heard the evil things coming from political/social/religious leaders and been reminded that everyone bears fruit regardless of their intention.

    My hope is that you would see this, and understand, and consider listening to what is being asked for. The protesters, the movement has asked if you will stop, listen, amplify voices. The black screen post was to be followed by retweets/stories/voices from the people you discovered while you were listening. I think a lot of people stopped at showing their solidarity and went about their day. But confession alone doesn’t cure, contrition is required. Or, as we all know, faith without works is dead.

    My name is Eddie Ortiz. I am a comedian in Nashville. I grew up in LA. I am El Sav. I have experienced this myself, but I’m not out here saying “Hispanic lives too!” because this moment will lead to all marginalized people having a larger voice. Plus, Mondays ago we watched the cops murder a man and almost get away with it, now at least he will face a jury. And where I fear the outcome, that move alone is progress. Hope you are well, and feel free to reach out if you have any questions.

    Like

  6. waw! i absolutely agree with all your points! thank you for sharing this wonderful post with us, have a great day!☺️

    Follow @everythingtips for tips and recommendations if interested!☺️ It would mean a lot to me!🥺🤍

    Like

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