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Thursday, January 21, 2010

If you can’t say it to me, don’t say it about me.

My dad used to give me matter-of-fact rules to live by. Not the usual stuff that all kids are used to hearing, but stuff that is relevant in any time. It is astounding how relevant in these times some of these rules are. My Pops was born in 1956, and ALL of the things that he “explained” to me are still relevant today.

Some of these rules include:

1. Never buy a woman all that she wants, she will not be faithful. Give her ALL that she needs and some of what she wants and she will always respect you.
2. A drunken man and a mad man are truth tellers.
3. Treat people like you want them to treat your children
4. The average person is an idiot. You can tell idiots by the way they follow what is popular
5. Marry a woman with depth so that you will entertain each other when the looks are gone.
6. Never say anything about a person that you cannot say to that person
7. Never write, print, or record anything that you cannot read back in court.
8. Your children will be your legacy. People will ALWAYS judge your life by what they do. Not one of them, but collectively.
9. Make sure people don’t come to your funeral just to make sure that they actually put you in the ground
10. Make sure you buy the most house you can get and drive the car that you can afford

Of these rules, the one that I always found the most intriguing was, “Never say anything about a person that you cannot say to that person.

This rule has kept my name away from many uncomfortable moments. I have not been perfect in obeying the rule, and believe me I have paid, but it has always been with me. I try to avoid situations in which people try to force me into conversations that speak badly about other…not always successful, but always trying. True courage is stating how you feel regardless of the audience and the outcome.

It has become epidemic, the times I hear people say things about others that, I know, they are not willing to say to that person. My youth was spent watching many fights on the way home from Fleming Middle and Key Middle Schools watching people either fight over something someone said about them or something someone denied saying about them. I always found this disturbing and often thought about what my father said. How many times could “mess”, as we call it in the black community, be avoided if people simply thought about RULE NO.6

Teach your kids about this simple rule so that they may teach their kids. I made it a punishable rule in my house. I ask my daughter often about words that come out of her mouth. Can you say that to that person? More than often, her response is, “You know what Daddy, I wouldn’t say that to her.”This leads me to often feel ……………………. She is already on her way.

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