When I was a freshman in high school and still living in Georgia, I was asked to write a paper in English that explained the laws I live my life by. These were and still are my thoughts on the prompt:
“How can a man die better than facing fearful odds, for the ashes of his fathers, and the temples of his Gods” (Macaulay).
Spiteful glances over their shoulders, stares that cripple my self-esteem and hostile words I did not hear but know were spoken about me sting my mind. A foul word lingers on the tip of my tongue leaving a bitter taste in my mouth. Anger pulses through my veins and swells inside me with every breath. I can feel my adversary pushing me further and further towards spitting the profane word from my lips. Clenching my fist, ready to break and verbalize my intense anger I remember my laws of life.
As trivial as uttering one small curse-word may seem, especially in a high school, it means so much more to me. My faith and family have guided me all of my life. All my decisions down to the words that I whisper in my thoughts and echo in my heart have been made so as to honor my loved ones and my God. These standards aid me as well as eight generations before me. Those who walked before me allow me to remember what my actions can yield. Nonetheless I make my decisions for myself and for those who walk my path after I am gone.
A broken chain can be mended but it is never left as strong as before. I am the eighth chain link in my lineage. I choose not be bound by things that spiral out of control once started like alcoholism, cheating, or a drug addiction. My faith and the laws I live my life by do not eliminate the risk completely however they put me in a stronger position to avoid things like, smoking, rape, divorce, and hate filled words that invade the society that surrounds me. I am guarding myself from those unfortunately common things so that my future loved ones can have the strength and courage to do so as well. So that hope and love flow freely in the lives who choose to walk by faith. I escape the things of this world that wear a glamorous mask to conceal the strife hidden beneath.
Every day I face these fearful odds as I walk the halls of my school. Every day I sacrifice being normal for my values. I sacrifice by missing out on the legendary party riddled with booze and drugs. I sacrifice by not seeing the rated R movie even though all my friends told me of the epic things on the screen that I missed. I even sacrifice my precious sleep by waking up an hour early every day to strengthen my faith by studying it in a classroom outside of school. Without these choices I make with God and my ancestors in mind I would have to deal with consequences that weigh heavy on the heart. Not just my heart but anyone’s. I avoid broken friendships, creating memories that plague the mind and guilt that drowns self-worth. I protect my future with the knowledge of where I come from and where I can go if led by my faith.
My fingers uncurl slowly releasing the tension held inside my body I did not realize was there. Exhaling deeply I release the anger that was surging within me. The vulgar word dissipates from my mind as if it never existed. The bitter taste leaves my mouth and I inhale, welling up with peace and happiness so full inside of me I cannot help but ooze some of it out in words of kindness towards others. Never have I been asked to give my life to test the love of those most dear to me or my faith. Yet, something I am sure of down to the last fiber of my being is that I would give my last breath to prove it because after all “how can a man die better than facing fearful odds, for the ashes of his fathers, and the temples of his Gods” (Macaulay).