MALCOLM X / EL-HAJJ MALIK EL-SHABAZZ: May 19, 1925 – February 21, 1965
Originally published February 21, 2016.
I have made a lot of changes in my life in recent years. There is still plenty of opportunity for me to improve my life, but I’ve done a fairly decent job of making some improvements. And so it catches me by surprise when old patterns arise and around me, and I find myself slipping into patterns I thought I had eradicated. Something happens at work or something happens at home that re-ignites old patterns without my awareness, and suddenly I’m thinking in ways I’m not aware of, and behaving in ways I thought I had eradicated. Change is frustrating, because we never truly now when we have truly evolved into a different state of being, or if our new behaviors are just a temporary, untested state. We want to believe that we’re a different person, and it’s a slap in the face to find out that we were just different because we hadn’t been tested. My high school football coach used to say, “In times of stress, men revert to their original form.” I’ve experienced that recently. Changes I was sure I’d made for the better turned out to be fairly shallow and untested changes. As soon as I ran into some triggering stressors, I reverted right back to the way I used to be. It’s difficult to change our beliefs and behaviors. Hell, it’s hard to stop smoking or to lose ten pounds. And so when I see someone who can fundamentally change themselves, I have to take notice. When they fundamentally change themselves twice, it’s almost miraculous. The fact that one of the most politically divisive figures of the 20th century was one of the few to be able to accomplish this makes it even more interesting.