Tuesday, April 05, 2005

"Highway to Heaven"
By Salvador Gabor


The Highway to Heaven. Its a road often traveled. Some fall off the road. Some make it through. Some are hitch-hiking. I dont mean this from a spiritual standpoint. The Highway to Heaven is just the road people take in general to be successful. The road can be bumpy. The road can be long. Your travel can seem like a never-ending trip.

You gotta know your way around the highways of life. Get your maps out. Or just go off of recall if you've been near this road before. But what seems to amaze me is that in THIS day and age, many of us are paying TOLLS just to travel. I never understood how you have to PAY to drive on a public road. Success, Peace and Happiness are mental states that you should be able to attain freely. Of course you always pay a price. Gas for your "car", as in motivation. Maintenance of your "car", as in staying healthy. Maybe some CD's and a friend who is willing to ride, only if they wanna go on the same path. And of course peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and generic brand sodas to snack on along the way. But how can you tell me I have to PAY to put my tires on the road?

In African-American history there has been many "Tolls" set up on the road to success. There are business schemes, organizations and EVEN some churches and leaders of these establishments who serve as "TOLLS" on your road. "You wanna be successful........PAY ME". Since the abolishment of slavery in the late 1800's, we as African-Americans have looked to leaders to guide our various movements. Whether it's been spiritually, politically, in business or down any avenue of life, we've relied on leaders of our community to step forward on our behalf. Organizations, churches and "societies" within our society as a whole have decided for us what our path will be. It seems as if we have gotten away from everyone traveling this highway of life on the same level to one man being better or ranked higher than another. And the man with the highest rank playing the role of "toll booth".

When going back to the early days after slavery, you have to realize that you are dealing with a group of people who had been used to two things. Hierarchy and the Ultimate Human Leadership. We as blacks were treated as second class citizens. We're werent even considered human during slavery. And afterwards we were not even 70% human in the eyes of the courts for quite some time. So we were used to being in an inferior mind state. But during the "Jim Crow" time period in the the early stages of the 20th Century, many African-American churches, fraternities, sororities and politically based organizations came about. The leaders of these establishments gave black folk a reason to be proud. A reason to demand respect. And a reason to BELIEVE. And in ALOT of cases that belief had to be PAID for. See...freedom is not a person. Peace is not a person. Happiness is not a person. So why PRAISE a person? Well for many of those people in the EARLY days of post-slavery may have felt a need to praise a man/women brave enough to speak out on issues that others were scared of touching on. Maybe they were comfortable in their inferior state and this new wave of braveness was in need of being commended? But, there are plenty of examples throughout the last 100 plus years where this "acknowledgement" of PEOPLE has gotten out of hand. Many church members serve the MAN who delivers the message and not the GOD who they should serve. Many organizations go overboard with praise of a common man or woman. It's common thing in our society. The person in power gets in over their head with this adoration and then they demand more and more love and attention. And the people give it because they feel a sense of need.......to FOLLOW.

I'm NOT one to encourage people NOT to fall in line with leadership. I actually think leadership is lacked in our community. We as African-Americans have always had a leader to look to in the past generations. NOW, we dont! People are afraid now to annoint some SINGLE person with the power to lead us. Afraid of having to pay a "Toll". Afraid of having someone mistake themselves for GOD instead of leading us to God. And the people who follow never change for the better.

Its funny how you ride on certain roads and you pay a "toll" but they never seem to give you a map in return

"Lord Willin, Rome Feelin"