Farrakhan, in that address to a Million Black Men, also provided the catalyst for my doing something that I’d never done at the behest of any man prior. He’d said something that made me get up off of that couch…
…and get down on my knees.
Yeah, he’d pissed me off by using that Lynch Letter, but he’d more than made up for it with his call for Atonement.
The idea of atoning for one’s wrongdoings is of course not new, nor is it uniquely a Muslim idea. It’s as old as sin and no religion can claim calling for an act of atonement as their trademark.
I think this was part of its appeal. At least for me.
The Minister outlined Eight Principle Steps in the Atonement Process.
In brief, they are as follows:
1. Point out the wrong.
2. Acknowledge the wrong.
3. Confess the Fault.
7. Reconcile and Restore.
8. Form a Perfect Union with God.
Farrakhan’s contention was that once these Eight Principle Steps are put into practice, it would bring about a Healing on our Planet and open up the Way to a Culture of World Peace based on genuine love and Forgiveness.
Not what you expected, right?
Not the kind of optimistic soul-uplifting, love-can-save-the-world message you’d expect from a man who’d just got finished telling you that we (meaning black people) had been the victims of a race of sinister devils (meaning white people) who’ve for centuries since concocting and hatching a master plan so dastardly, so wickedly brilliant and thorough that we (meaning black people) were not only helpless to stop it but would indeed be more inclined to stop anyone who even tried to stop it, by any means necessary. A plan designed to essentially make us love them (meaning white people) and hate each another…to make us a major player in our own demise, (genocide disguised as suicide reported as a homicide,) all this in a law laid down by some guy named Lynch in the days of American antiquity.
Now, the man said, it’ s time for us, all of us, to atone for our sins.
He moved me… from the sofa to the floor.
And I gotta tell y’all: I ain’t much for praying. But, I had had high hopes for this thing. It was my hope that this event would change the world somehow. Change me somehow. That it could bring people together. That the world could see us ‘(meaning black men) for something more than the stereotype we’d been made into. That it would provide something other than OJ Simpson and the guy who hit the truck driver in the head with the brick during the LA riots as representative of all of us, because unfortunately, with most people, while good deeds get attributed to the individual, bad deeds get attributed to the race!
I prayed as much for that as I did for anything else…and I cried, deeply.
By the time I was done, so was Farrakhan.
But his 8 Steps stuck with me for a long time. He’d left me, left over a million of us, with a course of action. Something practical. Demanding but doable. Steps that, if taken, would have an impact on the world, no question.
So, yeah, I was all over it.
Over the next few weeks I would go through the process of Atonement. And, my god, people: It works! Without a single religious doctrine, it works. Like those Twelve-Steps that you must follow when recovering from Alcohol or any addictive substance, it worked.
I hadn’t wronged anyone really, aside from myself…and one ex-girlfriend in particular.
So, I went through the 8-steps above with her, one at a time. I won’t get into how I’d wronged her in this post, but you know what? After I’d gone through the each step and reached the “Perfect Union with God” part, something EXTRAORDINARY happened.
I began to feel the impact of this atonement in all aspects of my life. I felt a rush of optimism and spiritual support. Back in the office I totally, noticeably, happily became a man minus a chip on his shoulder. I felt stronger than ever. I felt invincible. Like a new person.
I sat down and began the first draft of my novel: Real Gods Require Blood. In the coming months I would finish it, land an agent, and quit my cushy-job of 6 years. I would spend my time editing my manuscript helping to beautify my neighborhood and spreading the word about predatory lenders preying on the homeowners in my community.
I even started my own small business.
You’ve never seen such a driven man.
And I attribute all of that to the good Minister Farrakhan and his message of Atonement.
Thank you Brother Minister.
Then…the rejection letters started arriving, one after another, chipping away at my confidence. My Agent telling me over and over again, don’t worry this is usual for a first novel and that she has every confidence that she’ll be able to find a home for my work.
I felt I needed a change of scenery. So, I moved to Japan…
And began a whole new list of things I think I’m gonna need to atone for at some point.
>>>to be continued
PS: I know some of you have been waiting for this series to reach Japan, trying to see where I’m going with this. Well, you’re about to find out as I wrap up this series over the next week or two.