Growing Up Liberal in Philly - Conservative Voice
 
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Growing up Liberal was not all the bad, in fact it was downright fun!  We were poor minorities in the inner city and disadvantaged in almost every way imaginable.  It meant that our parents were liberal by default.  It was not that they were hardcore liberals in every case, but liberal because they were supposed to vote Democrat in order to make the inner city just a little more tolerable.

Not voting Democrat meant that the children would have less because no other political party would support the needs of the disadvantaged.  So our parents and our parents, parents practiced liberalism because they were led to believe that in voting Democrat they were helping all in the community.  The good thing about growing up so liberal and so disadvantaged was that it was fun!  I cannot remember a day that I was not in trouble.  Don’t get me wrong, I was not “bad” as it is traditionally defined, but I was a little boy when little boys were allowed to be boys… back when little boys had a helping hand in their identities by a father and before being a boy was labeled as a disorder of one sort or another.

Our fathers knew the importance of little boys establishing their positions and encouraged us in doing so.  This meant trouble was never very far away.  In being a male child, we learned lessons of the world first hand.  A father would allow room for direct experience and be patient enough to tolerate the natural rambunctious nature to evolve into a maturity that spawned a provider and protector.  This process meant that we had to spread our wings as frequently as possible.  We had to test our resolve, our courage, and our strength all while being held accountable for doing so.  As hypocritical as that may sound, it was crucial for our long‐term development.  We were encouraged to do the things little boys do, but as soon as the envelope was  pushed just a bit too far, we were held accountable; fully!  The lesser boys would back off, and those more like myself would push in slightly different ways trying figure out exactly where the line was drawn.  It was our form of “playing.”  Well, maybe I was just a bit bad our sense of "playing" then is completely intolerable behavior today.

Rock salt

Sports were always big and in the winter, the Boys Club was the perfect after school stopping spot.  Homework first, a couple of hours of basketball and starving we would head home braving the Philly cold.  The walk was horrid.  To get home quicker, the little boy in us would come out.  Knock, knock run (doorbell Dixie to many) would always come in handy.  You would be impressed at how fast we could make the two‐mile trek.  The snow and ice of the winters made it all the more fun because running could not be easily accomplished.  The snow and ice also meant that we did not have to go on a porch to knock on the door.  We would get a nice hard snowball that was half ice and take aim on a door and fire for a thunderous effect that would assuredly scare living the crap out of anyone inside the house.  Looking back, it was more like gunfire in sound than it was like a “harmless” screen door‐ruining, window breaking snowball.

The throws, the crashing, and we off running down the ice coated sidewalk.  One fateful night poor Duke slipped and fell.  He was the fastest, so he was on his own as we slipped and sprinted straight by (and in some cases, straight on and over) him.

“He’s got a gun!” we heard Duke yelling.  We increased speed and Duke scrambled behind a car after drawing attention to himself.  The shot gun wielding home owner was more than tired of our regular visits.  He allowed Duke to take flight before we all heard the shotgun blast and a SCREAMING Duke.  He had been shot square in the ass with some good old fashioned rock salt and he did not like it, not one bit!  His ass burned something fierce, so fierce that once under the bridge with the rest of us he dropped trouser and sank his stinging ass deep into the ice cover snow.  HILARIOUS!  For all but Duke anyway. 

“Do my jeans have holes in them?  My mom is going to kill me!”  Looking back, we all had similar reactions when our actions were catching up with us.  It was not that Duke had been shot in the ass that concerned him; it was that his actions that led to the result could get him in trouble for both!  Accountability was always first.  It never stopped us from acting like little boys, but it did force us to call our acts as little boys into question.  We did not stop to seek blame crying that Old Man Snyder was wrong for shooting Duke in the ass with rock salt.  We first looked at ourselves for what we chose to do that led to the event.  Our fathers had taught us that all things in life happen as a direct result of the choices we make prior to any event unfolding upon us; even when the result is wrong.

Not a matter of blame

Of course Old Man Snyder was wrong, but we were wrong first.  He was good enough about it to let Duke get far enough away to give him a good scare rather than a trip to the hospital.  He knew what message to send and how best to send it given the unruly group of hoodlums he was dealing with.  We never once complained about it – hell, it was not only funny to us it was just! 

As good or as bad an example as this may be, we were all raised with conservative values.  Life’s unfair nature could be offset with good decision making and hard work.

It was not until I was in the military that I realized not just how my father embraced conservative values, but how our collective upbringing was based upon them.  Conservative values were practiced within the home, but in no way did they transfer over to the political realm.  This is often the case, though today I question how many actually have the courage to practice conservative values as they raise their children anymore.

There was never a question when I was in the wrong.  Things stemming from being in the wrong were first my fault.  There was no absolution of self, of responsibility, of accountability; it was about a sense of cause and effect and my contributions to it.  In this, there is little room for blame.  Even when I was not in the wrong, I was faced with the question of what I was going to do about it.  There was no time for pity parties, there was no time to waste on anything other than overcoming the shortfalls in life that I was dealt because of being born Black in the inner city. 

Self fulfilled prophecy

Being disadvantaged meant that one needed to actively seek out the condition of advantage.  It was not “unfair” that we had to study harder, or work harder.  That’s just the way is was and if we allowed ourselves to get caught up in being disadvantaged, advantage in life would most assuredly spend a lifetime eluding us.

Life is an ongoing self fulfilled prophecy.  If you believe that being disadvantaged in life will hold you back; it will.  If you believe you can overcome being disadvantaged and succeed; you will.  The problem with being disadvantaged is that many today believe it is a lifelong curse.  We believe that we cannot overcome the adversity.  What we believe will be.  My father never told me any differently. 

In being such an unruly kid, I learned that no one is to fault before me.  By being allowed to be a boy allowed me to learn how to establish my position.  We were like wolf cubs practicing to be the alpha.  When we bit too hard we got bit back.  Those who stopped biting because they did not like getting bit back would never go forward in life to lead their own pack.  It was the simple life lessons that are no longer being taught because of broken families and political correctness that now inhibit this tactile learning process.

Today a boy who pushes a bit is diagnosed with a disorder of some sort when all he is, is a little boy using tactile learning to determine how he will best fit into a suit and tie later in life.  When we deny this, we cripple the future of men.  Boys are supposed to be active.  They are supposed to fight and they are supposed to be held accountable for being little boys.  Instead we are raising little girls in boys clothes.

It was not always the kindest and most gentle upbringing, because it was not supposed to be.  I was not born into a kind and gentle world.  I was born into a cruel and unforgiving world, but I was also born with the responsibility of seeing my way through it.  My father instilled in me that life was not about the other and what the other had.  He showed me through allowing me to spread my wings that life was about my choices.  It was about my willingness to be accountable for myself when it was easier to find blame in others.  My father taught me that life was so simple to be so complicated.

So much of what we apply in life is in direct conflict of who were are labeled by others to be in life.  My father voted Democrat and I call him a liberal, but actually how liberal was he?

Kenya Alu
2/8/2011 00:12:20

Paul, Thank you for writing this. What an inspiring post. I thouroughly enjoyed this read!

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