Monday, November 10, 2014

If You Catch More Flies with Honey, Can You Conquer the World with Molasses?

My mama always taught me to end a special request with the words “pretty please with sugar on top.” I spent my early formative years in the south and learned quickly the concept that you catch more flies with honey. A batting of the lashes, coy smile, and a “Bless your heart” goes a long way to getting shit done. I am not much one for wasting time or for taking “No” for an answer. I want what I want when I want it. If being nice helps me to get that, then so be it.

I am a long way now from the south. I am also a long way from wanting dessert for dinner, an extension on my bedtime, or a free pass to skip my chores. My wants, at this point in my life, reflect my humanitarian values and are less about me. It is not a second helping, new toy, or time away from my little sister that I am looking for. I want, instead, an end to childhood hunger, kindness as a global daily practice, viable solutions to homelessness, and love and compassion visible at every societal level. I want this. I want it very much. Pretty please, Universe, with sugar on top.

Some people say I am naïve. They say that humans are evil, lazy, and out for themselves. They say that we are a sick, fat, selfish culture and that very likely we will remain as such.

Not to poo poo on anyone’s gloom and doom parade, but I just can’t buy that fatalistic picture of my country.

This is where my Pop comes in. My cousins called him Granddaddy. Other people called him Doc. He was not an actual doctor, the kind that bandaged wounds and listened to your heart. He built guns and picked locks for a living. He was respected in the community and always had an answer for any ailment. Teething baby? Kid with a toothache? Rub a little whiskey on those gums. Blackberry wine was a general elixir used to cure many ails. The one cure I remember the best, though, is blackstrap molasses. If I ever was “feeling puny,” a term which may have been an early indicator of a later anemia diagnosis, Pop would pour me a steaming mug of hot tea with a nice big glob of blackstrap molasses stirred right in. It built the blood, he would say. Got one back on one’s feet.

Well, ladies and gentlemen, I believe our country is not the soon-to-be corpse that others feel it to be but is simply “feeling puny.” It is time, I think, for a nice big dose of that blackstrap molasses.

How do we build up, then, a supposedly lazy, selfish, sick society? How do we heal ourselves? How do we find our collective health?

We do it with love.

We have pretended long enough that we are strong, capable, and mighty alone. We are not. We are human beings. Human beings are social creatures. We crave the human touch. We crave and thrive on physical closeness to other human beings. Why, then, have we separated ourselves from each other? Why do we attack each other verbally, tear others apart? Why do we chastise those who never move away from their families? Why do we tell mothers to put down their babies and make them sleep in separate rooms? WHY do we have such an ISSUE with physical touch and comfort and love and togetherness? Why are we so afraid to say that we need each other?

This is what I would like everyone reading this essay to do. Tomorrow when you wake, go out into the world with love-colored glasses. Be kind. Make eye contact and smile. Offer a compliment or two. Hug those close to you. Tell them how much you love them. Call a friend or relative. Let them know how glad you are that they are in your life. Help someone who is struggling. Volunteer. In whatever way you can find, throw yourself out to others in a way that says, “You matter. You are important. You are loved.” And, then, when you settle in at the end of the day, look in the mirror and throw some of that love out to the face you see looking back at you. One day. Love-colored glasses. Pretty please. With sugar on top.

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