A year and a half ago, we bought a new house so my mother in law could move in with us. The view from the back yard was enough to sell us, but I really felt like we had found our new home when I saw what was hanging on the wall in the kitchen.
It was a simple phrase in a frame: “If you want to change the world, go home and love your family.” This is the order of things.
So many people say they’re on a mission to “make the world a better place” or to “change the world for the better” or to “save the world” but they can’t make their own home a better place. They can’t change their habits. Can’t save money to build an emergency fund, let alone save for retirement.
Don’t lose the forest for the trees
We see this tendency capitalized on every four years in the national election cycle as people place all their hope and blame for their problems on who is going to be the next president. I’ve never met a president. No president has ever fed my family or paid my rent. I do that shit for my family and who the president is doesn’t affect me. It’s fun to talk about, but it has about as much intrinsic value as the debate over LeBron vs MJ.
Why does it matter to ANYONE who the president is? Is the president gonna feed you a healthy diet? Exercise for you? Gonna jump your car off when your battery dies in the driveway? No. I’m sure there are plenty of people who wish the answer was yes, but the reality is this: YOU are responsible for your own health and YOU’RE gonna have to knock on the neighbors door if your car needs a jump. Do you know your neighbors?
People reduce their social responsibility to standing in line and pushing a button in a booth once every four years. But they can’t be bothered to go next door and introduce themselves to their neighbors and check on them when the going gets tough.
The solutions are local
If you really want to start the work that needs to be done to fix what’s wrong with society at large, fix yourself first. Lead your tribe at home, and then start to build out into the immediate and then larger community around you. But if you aren’t taking care of first things first, the rest will crumble under the weight of the world you try to carry on your shoulders. This is the order of things.
That’s one of the main plagues of 21st century man. Too much focus on the globe, not enough focus on handling your business. Too much time on social media, binge-watching TV shows, and vegging out on the 24-hour news cycle while they sit on the couch obese, diabetic, and depressed. All this and in the meantime, their children embark on a lifestyle that will lead to even worse outcomes.
This past weekend was Hotep Nation Weekend and the phrase “If you want to change the world, go home and love your family” was never made more blatant and in your face for me. 1,700 miles from home, with a devastating Hurricane headed directly for my family, I had to suspend my focus on building with this larger network of amazing people and redirect my focus to getting home as soon as possible to prep and protect.
Family taking care of family
Fortunately, with the help of our good friends in Hotep Nation and my far too generous family in east Texas, I made it all the way home with a few hours to spare. Even had time to fill 80 sandbags in case flood water threatened our home.
You see, with no flights going into Baton Rouge or New Orleans (for obvious reasons), I had to book a flight to Houston and then figure it out from there. There were no rental cars available in the area, so I hit up my aunt who lives an hour or so from the airport.
She graciously agreed to come pick me up at the airport and my uncle let me borrow his truck to drive home so I wouldn’t have to rent a car. Not only that, she met me at the airport with breakfast so I wouldn’t have to stop at all and when we connected with my uncle, the truck was full of gas and had 2 full 5 gallon gas tanks for my generator.
It’s only luck if you’re not doing your part
Now some may say “well you’re lucky that you had people there to help bail you out.…” OK, maybe you’re right. Or maybe I have maintained good relationships with my extended family and helped them in times of trouble because this is just the sort of thing we do for each other as a family.
As I am writing this, they are telling us it will be another three weeks before we get power and I am sitting in line going on 3 hours now to help my sister get gas to power her generator because she is helping an elderly neighbor who lost her husband last year and whose generator was stolen two nights ago when thieves cut the locks off of her shed to get it.
When you do the right thing and help people out, it’s no surprise that, when you need help, the people you love and who love you rise to the occasion. This is the order of things.
Once the power company takes care of securing the power lines, we will get to work cutting this monster up and moving it out of the way because that’s what we do. We help each other out with nothing expected as payment other than maybe a cold beer after the work is done. Hell, we usually bring the beer because the ice chest full of beer is an essential tool in these jobs.
Voluntary solutions are everywhere
Louisiana is known for its southern hospitality and the “Cajun Navy” is famous for rescuing folks and bringing them to safety FOR FREE. A whole armada of volunteer rescue workers using their personal fishing boats, trucks, and gear to do the work FEMA, first responders, and law-enforcement are either unavailable, unauthorized, or—God forbid—unwilling to do.
When you are a true man of order, you realize when your innate sense of duty is calling and you step up because you can’t live with yourself if you don’t. And there’s no shame in asking for help when you know you are willing, have been willing, and have actually put your money where your mouth is and put in the work to help those around you. When hurricane Gustav hit Baton Rouge like a freight train in 2008, my house was one of the first with power and I had 4 families staying with me to take advantage of the air conditioning and other luxuries we take for granted all too often. It’s just what we do.
You also feel that sense of duty stronger than ever when you have received even the tiniest bit of help because you want to pay it forward to anyone who may need your help now that you are on your feet.
Answering the call of duty
When my home was spared in the flood of 2016, I—and many like me—spent weeks helping friends and family tear out carpet and sheetrock, and salvage what we could of their keepsakes. We also prepared meals and our wives took care of children. My house was without power for three weeks, but we had friends who were living in Iowa and let us use their house which had been completely unscathed. They had power, Wi-Fi, the whole nine. My wife and children stayed there while I guarded our home at night against opportunistic looters.
I woke up every morning and drove to their house where my wife had breakfast ready. I then went to someone’s house (friend, family, whoever) to help them gut their house and prep for rebuilding until the sun went down. Then, I would go back to the house where my wife had dinner waiting.
I would eat, take a shower, and then head back to our home where I had only a fan, our refrigerator, and a lamp on the generator because my neighbor didn’t have a generator and I was sharing power with him. I slept with as little clothing as possible to stay cool with my shotgun and pistol at my bedside just in case. Rinse and repeat for three weeks straight.
Inspiration versus intimidation
I’m not telling these stories to toot my own horn or to flex like I’m some sort of exceptional man. I’m just a man. This is what we do. And if you have struggled and not felt like you have lived up to your calling as a man, let this be an inspiration to you to be who you were designed and created to be.
This weekend, Jonesy, Hotep Jesus, and I met the inimitable Phil Foster. As easy as it would’ve been for me to be intimidated by how jacked this man is, he was very unassuming and served more as an inspiration than as a source of shame for not being in better physical shape than I am. And I’m in pretty damn good shape for a 47 year old man. I just know that I have a long way to go to be able to stand on a stage with this man and not feel like I’m not doing enough to be in the best physical condition I can be in.
Iron sharpens iron and that is what we must be for each other as men. We go out into the world to network to become better men so that we can serve our families and our communities better when we return home.
“If you want to change the world, go home and love your family.” This is the order of things.
Men of Order…Rise.