Slaves and Cowards

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“Slaves got options: escape, revolt, death.

Cowards only have consequences.”

Franklin, from the Broadway musical, “Passing Strange.”

July 1 found us sitting in a theater in New York City, celebrating our one year wedding anniversary by going to see a Broadway musical. Now, you expect great entertainment in the city that never sleeps – and we got it! However, what I didn’t expect was to walk out of the theater, mouth still hanging open from some of the most profound statements I’d ever heard.

The quote listed above? Only Dylan and Springsteen have ever written lyrics that strike such an internal chord with me.

Quick summary: Stew is a teenage wannabe rock star growing up in south central L.A. in the 70s. During a marijuana-induced conversation with his youth minister, Franklin, Stew reveals his dream of relocating to Europe and becoming a rock star. Franklin has followed in his father’s ministerial footsteps and, until their rap session in the front seat of a VW bug, has never confessed how much he regrets not being true to his own dreams.

Franklin encourages Stew to follow his heart. Then, he painfully admits he’s trapped in a life designed by his father. It’s worse than slavery, he insists, because his whole existence is the result of fear. “Slaves got options: escape, revolt, death. But cowards – cowards only have consequences.”

Man, powerful stuff.

Is there anything worse than slavery? A quick answer is “of course not!” But, think about it one step further and you might find a different answer. Fear.

Being enslaved by your own choices – or rather your inability to make a choice… that’s called cowardess. And as Franklin so profoundly noted: cowards only have consequences.

We all have choices. Even choosing not to choose is a choice. And we know that all choices carry consequences. But when we allow fear to make our decisions, it’s the same as saying, “I’ll just take the leftovers life hands me.” Sorry, that’s just not good enough for me.

Making big choices is scary, no doubt about it. Anyone who’s ever faced a life-changing decision knows that it may seem easier to just walk away. But not making a choice for what you believe – for what your heart tells you – well, that means fear makes the choice for you. And then what’s left? A consequence.

Does this sound like I’m promoting control freakedness? Maybe I am! Because, well, I AM a control freak when it comes to my life. Fine. I admit it. I don’t want to give up input and influence over the only life I have. Do you? Would anyone?

If we avoid things that are intimidating, we’re allowing fear to choose – and that means we get the consequences of fear. Not empowerment, not opportunity, not adventure, not possibility… just consequences.

Thanks Franklin, for an important reminder of one of the things that makes life such a gift. Enjoy yours.

write by Martha

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