Who has your ear?

| April 27, 2013

By D.L. Russell

I am convinced that a big part of success or failure in life can be traced back to who had access to an individual at a given moment. By the time I was 23 years old, I had lost both of my parents and wasn’t allowed to use any of their wisdom beyond that point in my life. Although I don’t consider myself a failure, I do often wonder how different my life would be had I been able to tell them about later fears and problems, and to get their advice.

Every time I hear a story about a young person who had the potential to be successful and suddenly does something stupid to ruin it for themselves, I immediately wonder who were they listening to? Who had their ear?

Take, for example, an athlete on the brink of what is expected to be a great college or professional career. Money, fame, and success are at his fingertips, but shortly before they are to sign the dotted line, and begin life anew, someone talks them into doing a line of cocaine in their hotel room. “It’s make you feel like a man!” they say. “You deserve a little reward for all your hard work,” they say. “Just one line,” they tell this athlete. “It won’t hurt.”

Two hours later, after a frantic trip to the emergency room, this athlete is dead. Dreams lost, hopes dashed, crushed, crumbled and everyone wants to know one thing. Why? Imagine this athlete simply, saying, “no thanks,” when he was asked to try cocaine for the first time because at some point in his life, someone told him he would be tested by the temptation do to what others have done and the potential consequences. Or even better, imagine a friend not asking in the first place because they have his best interest at heart.

Now imagine a young man growing up with a life of privilege and power. A spoiled kid, unaware of the meaning of the word “no” and too dumb to realize the world doesn’t really revolve around him and his rich family. He’s next in line to rule in a country where leadership is maintained with weapons of brutality.

One day he takes over, and quickly decides he will move forward, where his father did not. He will not show restraint, and he doesn’t realize he is no more than a big fish in a small pond, not a true player in any sense of the word. He tries to pick a fight with the world, and nobody in his circle can dare say, “this is not a good idea.” This is Kim Jong-un and this is the current situation in North Korea.

We all must understand the difference between the opinion of someone we trust, and the simplicity of our yes men. Both have their place, but you can be successful without a “yes man”—you can’t live successfully without someone who will tell you the things you don’t want to hear. Maybe Kim Jong-un will be told this by someone he trusts, before he starts WWIII.


D.L. Russell is an author of Horror and Dark Fantasy and the co-founder and editor of Strange, Weird, and Wonderful Publishing. You can also visit his blog at www.dlrussellsblog.com.

 This article originally appeared in our April 24, 2013 issue.

Category: Local, Opinion

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Frost Illustrated is Fort Wayne's oldest weekly newspaper. Your Independent Voice in the Community, featuring news & views of African Americans since 1968.

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