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"The Open Palm" Podcast is available on Anchor, Spotify and Apple Podcasts.
There are many things in history a large percentage of us are not aware of. Things that have gone unnoticed or publicly silenced. People who have prospered in the worse conditions. Individuals who have blossomed against all odds. These inspirational stories have the potential to empower us. Yet what good is a story that is never told? What good is the ear that may never hear? If a tree falls down in a forest with no one around, does it make a sound? If a book is never read by the masses, does it make an impact?
I went to my cousin's house and found a book on a bookshelf. It was called Black Wall-street: The Lost Dream. It told of an African American community in Tulsa, Oklahoma that thrived in the early 1900s. My cousin watched curiously from his video game and finally worked up the courage to ask what I was reading. When I told him, he remarked that I was very resourceful! I countered that the resources had been within his reach. After hearing him explain that he would have never thought to look on the bookshelf to begin with, I was reminded of a story.
Acres of Diamonds tells of an African farmer who had some land and heard stories of diamond mines that lay far off. This farmer was so excited by the possibility of riches that he couldn't wait to sell his farm. Once he sold it, he used the money to venture off in search of the mines. Years passed and, being unsuccessful, he was so saddened that he went and drowned himself in a river. Later the owner who had purchased his farm noticed a strange object floating down the river. Upon examination he found this stone to be a beautiful diamond. It didn't take him long to find out that the entire farm was covered in them. He had, in fact, inherited a fortune.
What the first farmer didn't realize was that he was literally sitting on millions. It's the same thing my cousin failed to realize when he saw me reading that book. In our lives, we often have many questions. If we would only slow down, and look around, we may realize that the very answers we seek are within our grasp. We often think it is the chosen few who accomplish their dreams but perhaps it is really the few who choose.
In a world that is filled with evolving technology, we may at times feel overburdened. There are so many to-do's, tasks, and things constantly vying for our attention. Our awareness can get drained pretty quickly along with our laptops and cellphone batteries. We may forget we still have resources available to us. We may forget that there were people long ago who prospered with much less. They say that one of the most dangerous weapons in America is a man/woman with a library card. In the abundance of distraction, we may forget the tool many used to elevate themselves in life. Our minds.
Perhaps we are used to not thinking for ourselves. I, for one, have been a victim of this. Having my creativity sapped and my imagination at an all-time low. We must not feel too saddened by this. After all, we are often only taught what to think and not how to think. Once we learn how to think we will have gained a skill that will last a lifetime. A skill we can then pass on to others as well. A ripple we can cast out to the world.
I am emboldened and encouraged to know that, if I can stumble on something as golden as I did, other people may happen upon greatness as well. If I can spread this knowledge to people who may not know it, I can help that impact spread as well. We are the ones who must carry the torch and let these stories extend like a wildfire. I used to operate under the assumption: If not me then you. The question I ask now is: If not us then who?
By Jerome Shaw. Find me on Twitter and Instagram: @jromeshaw.