Piece of Shit To a Future Mensch
As I watched the Egyptian people celebrating their moment of freedom from tyranny, I was thinking of a teen-age boy in California who was having his moment of personal liberation.
The boy (Let’s call him Alonzo) had spent years being told by his parents that he was worthless. Beaten, neglected, emotionally savaged by parents whose own childhoods had been immersed in abuse and neglect, the boy had come to the conclusion that he was, as he phrased it, “a piece of shit.”
Like so many of his peers in foster care, Alonzo took on himself the blame that belonged to his parents. Finding themselves taken from their homes because of parental neglect and abuse, kids have a way of assuming the blame that belongs elsewhere. In Alonzo’s case, his personal mantra went something like this “Yes, my Dad did beat me but if I hadn’t finked on him and told my teacher, I would be home and we would still be a family. It’s my fault that I’m living in a group home and am separated from my parents.”
For years I watched the teen-aged boy carry the home-buster burden on his back. He came to hate himself for “telling on” his parents. Then, thanks to God’s grace, a wise therapist and some people in his life who stood by him, there came a break-through moment when he was able to stand up to his Dad for the first time and say “Dad, I didn’t screw up; you did. ”
In that moment, the burden of years fell from his shoulders. Alonzo had recognized his own worth and let the mantle of guilt rest where it belonged. Like the protesters in
Tahrir Square, a young man had taken a first step in his own transformation.
Alonzo’s growth hasn’t stopped with his understanding of the harmful role his parents had played in his life. He has already gone beyond blaming them and is learning to accept and forgive his mom and dad. “I see now that nobody is perfect.”
Those who have been working with Alonzo through the years now dare to hope that his image of himself as a worthless turd is gone forever. Inside this boy a spark has been ignited; he has awakened to the glorious possibility that he has a future.
There are sacred moments in life of both nations and individuals. The world was there to rejoice with the Egyptian people in their courage to throw off the chains that kept them from being free. Aside from a few people who were familiar with Alonzo’s struggle, his victory over himself goes unnoticed. But what is important is that he will hear the bells and see the fireworks deep inside him. The sweetest victories of all are those that take place in the heart. This kid has taken his first steps towards being a mensch.