This week’s post is part 3 of 4 regarding my personal commitments to be a better human that are tattooed on my arm. (See previous posts at links below.)
Many years ago, I asked my mother if she hoped to pass one lesson on to her children (before she had us) what that lesson would have been. She said, “Just be nice to people.” She continued on, “Don’t do it because you hope for something in return, just be nice to people.” When I meet an animal, I secretly wish that I could communicate to them in some audible language and explain “I mean no harm. I am a friend.” (If I were able to do this, I would have several animal selfies for proof of awesomeness.) When I meet a human, I attempt to communicate that same sentiment through my body language. Unfortunately, I am at the mercy of their perception of my physical vessel. Animals tend to trust their raw (uninfluenced) instincts. Humans are influenced daily by a choking amount of biased information and conjecture. I’ve created a few t-shirts with my Jet-isms (Jisms) and I’ve toyed with the idea of creating a shirt that reads, “Dear Human, I mean no harm. I am a friend.” Every time I entertain the idea, the thought makes me sad that only then would some people let down their walls of perception to receive me. While I didn’t choose my skin color, I make no apologies for it. I love my brown skin. I did, however, choose my body. My intention to lift weights, run, cycle, and train over the last 25+ years have shaped my appearance today. Assumptions about a person’s character, based on their body type, doesn’t just apply to humans labeled as “fat” by societal standards. Many assumptions are made about my character based on the athletic body that I’ve chosen.
It’s worth mentioning… Yes. We have more control over our bodies than we like to admit. Excluding genetics and other variables over which we have no control (e.g. identifying with the gender of the body we’re assigned) We choose our body. The human body is a gift. It’s a miraculous machine. In fact, it’s the only machine that gets stronger as a result of hard work (I’m talking overload principle here). When given this amazing gift, everything that we put into it and every way that we use it determines its ability level. We choose our body. Not long ago, I decided to stop giving (requested) health advice to people that smoke cigarettes. A friend asked what she could do about hair loss. I said, “stop smoking.” She said nothing in response. She’s choosing her body with every cigarette.
I mean no harm. I am a friend. I try to convey this with a silent smile when I see a bright-eyed human walking towards me on the street. The smile is rarely returned. I’ve often been described as “intense” by those who don’t know me. I mean no harm. With my mohawk, tattoos, and athletic build (I chose this body, this is not a lament) more than one person has described me as “menacing” or “intimidating.” I am a friend. I am not shocked, but still saddened, to admit that only white people have called me such names. It’s often said with a trail of nervous laughter and a mumbled proclamation of “just kidding.” Nevertheless, take a moment to imagine what it’s like to have your intentions of friendship and peace trumped by the perception of others.
I’ve often tried to approach new people in my life with an assumption that I’ll like the human and we’ll jive well with one another. When there’s a new member on the team at work, I try to welcome them with an extended hand in hopes that perhaps we can be friends. My hope is that every new person with whom I come in contact will accept me hand in friendship while releasing any previous notions they’ve had of mohawks, tattoos, brown skin, or athletic builds.
I met a friend’s sweet pup and asked permission to say, “hello.” I got down to the ground and rubbed, petted, basically made out with the sweetest Pit Bull ever. Pit Bulls often get a bad rep based on some asshole humans that have raised many of them to do awful things. I often find them to be sweet, loving dogs. Pit Bulls did not choose the way they look. Many of them still want to extend their [paw] in friendship and fairness. My friend mentioned how much different the world would be if humans were able to greet each other like that. We certainly have a lot to learn from animals. What if we accepted massage as a form of greeting (and no one crossed any boundaries of disrespect)? What if we treated all humans the same in the name of fairness and used that fairness as the foundation of future friendships? I follow these commitments in order to be a better human. Find your own life commitments (or use these if they resonate with you) and let’s all just be friends. Just be nice to people
Final Thought: I was at the AC/DC concert on Friday night. The next time you go to a concert, take a moment to appreciate when all of you are singing the same lyrics and breathe in that friendship. We are not all that different from one another.
Until next week… Find me on Spotify under “JetNoirMuse” to listen to some of my music Playlists.