About two months back, I posted here about an encounter I had with a neighbor in my housing tenement.
This neighbor is a black man from the deep south. Country boy. 60 years old. Southern upbringing is all over him in his manner of dress, blunt expression, every bit of it. He gave some pretty good insight on Obama's re-election and people at this website seemed to like it.
He is still a regular source of introspection and cohesion. I just sat and listened to a conversation he had with someone else living with us during the day. I couldn't believe the simple brilliance I heard.
"If I need to know something, I ask it. I'm not too proud to learn. That's how I grow. By not being an asshole. Assholes are everywhere. It's not hard to be one."
How many times have there been simple questions about life that you really wanted to know? Did you go years of your life not asking them at all, because the possibility of asking them sounded like too excruciating an experience?
That "proudness" is the foundation of being an asshole - or a bitch, if your gender varies but the behavior doesn't. You are too proud to admit you are wrong or that you don't actually know - you have to save face by acting like you know when you really have no idea. When someone is mean, this is almost always what is going on.
"Life is to survive, not to get in your own little clan."
I don't even know how to add to that one.
"Your body is amazing. I look at that thing sometimes think, 'You know how to do this. I'll keep going and mind my business.'"
Imagine all of this being said by a man with a deep southern accent and realize how charming and brilliant it sounded at once. With all the bad news you hear these days, many people may have forgotten how amazing their physical presence in this world really is.
"I like kids. Kids are my life. I got something to offer kids. I tell them about my life and what I've been through so they'll know not to go through it."
I personally grew up in Seattle, in an affluent but extremely anti-social environment. People in this city don't talk on the bus at all, passive aggression is the norm. No one really engaged me as a kid before - I had to push to hear the sort of stories this old man seeks to volunteer with children.
This wisdom literally came out of this man, who is unemployed and seeking housing through a Section 8 voucher, during one every day conversation with the people he lived with. It made more sense than alot of the influential people we look to for guidance.