The Misanthrope

9 10 2017

I had to wonder for a moment when this man I barely recognized climbed in my car. ButRock _n as soon as he spoke I knew it was my old friend, Al. The person I remembered was well groomed, always neat in appearance and had a body rippling with muscles. Here now was someone thin, frail, sporting a shaggy head of hair totally unkempt, dressed in shirt and pants that looked like he hadn’t changed in days. Still it was good to see him again since I had thought of him often and made numerous attempts over the years to locate his whereabouts, all to no avail. It was as if he had dropped off the face of the earth. When I finally track him down doubts still lingered that I’d get to see him. Talking on the phone he expressed surprise to even hear from me since no one had checked on him in years. “John, I’d love to see you, but call again tomorrow and I’ll tell you if I feel like getting out.” Thankfully he did agree the next day and I took him out to lunch. Al had been one of the best and brightest keyboard players Illinois had to offer. He said it had been years since he sat at a piano and even if he did there was little memory of the many songs he once knew by heart. Not wanting to concentrate a lot on the present, we spent most of the next two hours talking about the old days, friends we shared and anything else that brought smiles and laughter, something I was pretty sure he hadn’t done for a long time.  As our time of reliving the past began to wind down, Al opened more of who he was now. He referred to himself as a zealous misanthrope; that’s defines an individual who dislikes humankind and avoids human society. He was living off the grid; no computer, no smart phone, no TV and only a minute knowledge of anything going on in the world. He had a small apartment where the majority of his day was spent, venturing out mostly after dark. “Dude,” I finally said, “That’s not the Al I knew. People used to be around you all the time because of your positive attitude. You were fun, what happened?” He answered. “People let you down, and when more and more do it you realize that you can’t trust anyone. Society teaches you to take care of yourself first, even at the cost of hurting others. Religion, government, everybody and everything are only in it for themselves and I couldn’t take it anymore. I may be alone, but at least now I’m not getting hurt.” Of course I had all the reasons why he was wrong and needed to get back to living life again, but I also realized something else. All I had to say was meaningless to Al; this wasn’t a difference in opinion, this was a matter of the heart.

I once read this quote and kept it around possibly for a moment like this. ““Let me tell you this: if you meet a loner, no matter what they tell you, it’s not because they enjoy solitude. It’s because they have tried to blend into the world before, and people continue to disappoint them.”

I must admit, there’s a lot of truth in Al’s position. Government, politics, religion and people can and do let you down; all you have to do is watch a news program to draw that conclusion. And I know numerous that share Al’s dismal outlook. Shoot, there was time out of frustration I could have landed in an apartment across the hall hiding out from disappointments right along with him! But through all the down moments I’ve experienced, one truth comes forth out of the darkness; my Lord and my God are still there for me, and His love never fails.

“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” These verses have been my strength and hope at those dismals times when I saw the world in complete negativity. Thankfully, I “HAVE” found Someone who is always there.

So what do we do with all the problems, all the pain and let downs that are out there in the world? Well, as I’ve said often, I’m not a religious man, but one of faith; and that faith says this, “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” I tried to avoid talking about all the bad stuff. That’s not saying I ignore it but rather I’d prefer to concentrate on where I find peace, hope and solutions.

What else can we do? The Bible says, “But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!” that’s a tough one, huh? I found life is better when I use this approach over fighting hate with hate.

C.S. Lewis: “If they are wrong they need your prayers all the more; and if they are your enemies, then you are under orders to pray for them” Friends, all I can tell you is give it a whirl, I don’t know what it will do to ones that have wronged you, but I believe you’re going to be pleasantly surprised what it will do for you.

The 3rd point I’d like to offer is the toughest for many of us. One of my favorite bands from the 60s was the MC5. Before one concert, lead singer Rob Tyner voiced this question, “Are you going to be part of the problem, or are you going to be part of the solution?!!” I’m highly privileged to know people that have dedicated their lives to being a part of the solution. In the Central African Republican, Laos, Thailand, Syria, many places in Europe and Latin America they bring relief with medical supplies, food and whatever aid they can give. Yes, Christians, but they’re not walking around telling people they need Jesus, they’re showing the love of Jesus with their actions. Here in the good old United States, countless people are working feverously to make a difference in the lives of the less fortunate. That’s called an action of love. That’s called being part of the solution. If you never have before, you’d be amazed how great it feels to be one of those, even if it’s just a small part of helping others. You know it can be as simple as being a friend to someone who really needs one. You may not agree with me and that’s fine, but I firmly believe that’s how you deal with hurt, pain and disappointment; not by being an isolationist. Just sayin!

When Al, the latest “Traveler of the Rock Road” to cross my path, exited the car to retreat back into his closed off world, he turned and said, “I had a great time and I’d like to talk with you more. Can we get together again?”

Hmm, let’s see, he’s a hundred miles away, life is busy right now and there’s the chance that when I get over there, he’ll change his mind and turn me away. Do I really want to take the risk?

Hey, do you even have to guess?!!
See ya next time.

 


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2 responses

9 10 2017
jeff bonnell

Thank you

20 11 2017
rockroad

Thank you Jeff!

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