"Dealing With Money Problems": Part 3
Imam W. Deen Mohammed
Motivation for the Positive
(This article has been prepared for Muslim Journal's readers by Imam W. Deen Mohammed. It is prepared from his public address given in Dallas, Texas on Saturday, May 23, 1992 at the Dallas Convention Center.)
Now I want to talk about motivation. We need something to motivate us in a positive and productive way. What will motivate that fifty percent unemployed? We hear that seven percent are unemployed. They are talking about people who they have records on, but something should tell you that those statistics are wrong if they are to be read like the average one of us reads them. When you go in your neighborhood, you know that there is more than seven percent unemployed. In most of our wards there is more than fifty percent unemployed. The records list those who got laid off and are waiting to be rehired because their jobs are terminated. Those are employer's figures.
The article in the Chicago Tribune by a writer Long-worth says that in the most depressed areas of the inner cities the unemployment runs as high as fifty percent. But most of these people are out of the reach of anybody; they were never on the records of being employed. Who is in touch with them, and who can say that they don't have jobs? You have to go there to find out and see for yourself. You have to see them idle to know that they are unemployed. That is what they are calling the chronic unemployed.
Now of that big number many of them are not bothered about having a job. And what does this have to do about the money thing? It has a lot to do with it. When you better see the reality for your circumstances and the circumstances of the people for whom your heart goes out, then you are in better shape to deal with any problem as it relates to their condition.
This writer (Longworth) documents that of those who request applications, most will not be even considered. He goes on to say that many of them when applications are given will not complete them and will get up and leave. These will not have an interview. Many of those who are approved for interviews will not show up. And many interviewed will not qualify. It is either their reading level is too low or their ability to perform the task is not there, so they are not hired. Worse still, some will have criminal records and some will be on drugs.
You cannot just look at the state of unemployment and say, "We need jobs!" When we get the jobs, how many can be placed? So are we to demand that our government spend our tax payers' money to create enough jobs to hire all of the unemployed? If we are just dealing with that seven percent or so, then that is reality. I agree that all of us should support eliminating unemployment if we are talking about eliminating that figure that is around four, five, six or seven percent of unemployment.
If we are talking about the great majority of unemployed people who are not only African Americans (for there are "Whites", Hispanics and others), then we must look at lifestyles. Lifestyles kill positive and productive initiative.
How do we make the people fit for employment? That should be the question. How do we improve our young men in this society to have more employment? We have to convert them to a new mind or to a new way of thinking. They can be guided to have a new perception of themselves, of the world, and of the challenge.
It’ll be said by someone, "We need a revolution!" What kind? A violent revolution? That is what we have out there in the streets every night and day, a violent revolution. Are we going to recruit those who are killing themselves, who beat up each other and maim each other petty things? We have to give up this crazy thinking brothers and sisters. Some women are pumping iron and putting on boxing gloves and running six to ten miles a day. They want to knock through a brick wall or something.
Try to see a little apartment that we live in with a kitchen and a bathroom and a living room, as a situation. What happens in any one of these rooms will affect the whole house or the whole apartment. You can keep the living room beautiful, and people can come and visit you without ever seeing any other room. They will be complimenting you for keeping such a lovely house, and you will be taking pride in it. But if they look at you real close, they will see pain in your face. And you know what the pain is saying. The other room is on your mind! It might be the bed-room or the bathroom or the kitchen or all of them. Any one of them if messed up will just mess up your mind. You don't want to confess, but sometimes it is good to do that. Say, "Wait a minute, you should see that pile of mess in the other room. I need help."
The situation for the mind is the same, and each focus in the mind represents a room. Each concentrated area in your mind represents a room. We have all of these different rooms in our minds: Race consciousness. Race awareness forms one of these rooms. The situation for employment forms one. The state and our own town and how it is performing also affects us. If any one of those concentrations of interest is confused, it affects the whole mind. If we have the wrong perception of material life and opportunity, if it is terribly distorted, it is going to affect the whole state of our minds.
The wrong attitude caused by a distorted picture of what reality is for race relationship is going to do the same. When people follow a discipline, an ideology, a philosophy, a message, a scripture, a teaching or whatever, that offers them a discipline for their total perception, a discipline that in its composition is a total behavioral system — it decides how you will look at everything. When people have that, they are fit to meet the challenges. We want to do justice by an ideology or some philosophy or some message or some scriptural religion that offers a system for our behavior.
I hate to say religion, for religion is so loose and is open to so many interpretations. I can't just say, "Islam will save you." You may have Joe Blow's Islam or Sheikh Hoochy Choochy's Islam and you will be shot out in a twilight zone you could never return from. To be safe, we should have the right perception in Islam. We need the right perception, and if there is a system offered for total behavior, then you are safe.
All great religions offer a behavioral system, and they are perceived after the order which God created. Allah's creation is an orderly system for this life and for the ordering of life. If we had a system of belief that was perceived correctly and patterned on God's universal system, it should be able to support us and give us a situation for life and growth and prosperity. That is the idea, and it is true and will work. But who will accept that among that fifty percent out there.
We need something to motivate us. I don't think anyone can bring it more clearer than this, but you still might say "that's heavy". And we certainly don't like to burden you any more; it is cruel to put any more weight on you. Some people will say, "Oh, well I am going to introduce my lost child to this new opportunity and take him to this school or this person." You are hoping your child will be motivated and turned on again. But he may embarrass you so much. You may take your child to the finest school and sacrifice and put another mortgage on the house. There is no answer or any guarantees that the things of this world are going to motivate these children or even grown ups. But there is a strategy and a perception that works.
If we can keep ourselves to what we believe in, we Muslims will keep to the Qur'an and to the example of Muhammed The Prophet and to traditional excellence. I wish you wouldn't be Shii, but if you want to be that then follow the best that they have to offer. I will not reject you. This is the key for every human being. Every human being is created to want better. Don't be despondent and throw up our hands and give up because we can't get everybody to believe in the religion as we believe or think the way we think in the religion. Don't give up.
Work on doing two things: Educating ourselves in the Muslim Community in the proper way; devote ourselves to that. Do that in our homes, in our schools, in our mosques. If you don't have that situation, then find a way to meet in homes every week and educate your community in Islam, in Qur'an, in the Sunnah and Life of the Prophet. This is one answer, and for us it is the best and most important and most rewarding one.
However almost equal in importance is to help better the life in these streets. Too many suffer needlessly and have no interest, no faith, and no desire to accept good help. We cannot give up on them. We have to help them. The organization AA-MAN is an example of what can be done to reach some of these unreachable people. When they see what AA-MAN is doing, some of these unreachable people are going to be inspired. AA-MAN is an answer.
(To be continued)