Another great post from Eric Foster, founder and publisher of YBEMagazine.com. You can catch him writing about the issues surrounding the young black community. Glad to be hosting his voice here.
I shared a poem I wrote with Isom that spoke of dealing with the world’s problems. Some of that weight, we put on ourselves by trying to take on everyone’s problems. So can we fault others for coming to us in their time of need when we make ourselves so available?
The point is that sometimes I take on more responsibility than I can handle and occasionally feel guilt if I can not help everyone. This is more true in my personal life. I have come to realize that I cannot save the world, no matter how much I may want to. That’s not to say that my goal of creating YBE Magazine is pointless. No, it’s on a personal, rather than universal, level.
I recognize that I have my own issues and sometimes, I feel broken. But every day, I manage to put the pieces together and rebuild stronger than before. However, in that, I also find that I am sometimes drawn to people who are just as damaged, if not more damaged than me; the only difference is that they may not know how to rebuild – or might simply not try. I’m not drawn to them because they are damaged, mind you. Usually, I see the potential for greatness in them that they cannot see for themselves. And though I encourage them to make positive change and live up to their potential, some prefer to just remain broken.
In the past, I have brought myself to the edge of total collapse trying to save others. But is that my job? As a friend, lover, brother, spouse, mentor, or whatever you are to someone, when is the sacrifice too much? As is often pointed out, you can’t help someone who won’t admit they have a problem (which ties into isom’s point about black men being honest with themselves).
Ultimately, they become the weight that you cannot bear. I think of scenes in movies where two (or more) people are hanging in a precarious predicament – an example being from the movie “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” when Indy is trying to save Elsa from falling to her death in the widening chasm. Instead of trying to save herself, she stayed distracted, letting her vices consume and eventually kill her. Indy fought to the end to save her, almost losing himself as well.
It may sound selfish to put your own needs ahead of others, but at the same time, selflessness can destroy too. There has to be a balance. I can’t fulfill my purpose if I allow myself to be brought down by others who won’t lift themselves up when I extend a helping hand. And I can’t feel guilty for not saving that person. I have to let go and trust that they will learn in time.