The Painful Parallel I See in Every Circus Act

Circus elephants are forcibly trained to remain in a small space from the time they are babies, purportedly “forced to stand on a concrete floor for six months in a very confined space, unable to lie down or even turn around for 23 hours per day.   When they aren’t performing, they are confined.”  This is a cruel physical procedure, as the elephants grow into massive, five to seven-ton creatures, purposed to break the mind and spirit of the animal.  A chain wrapped around their hefty, calf legs, the baby elephants grow up believing that they are confined to the tiny space of that foreign chain — though their body weight and strength could crush any cruel oppressor.  I first heard this account in a Sunday morning sermon. As I listened, I couldn’t help but see the parallel between the chained elephant and that of my African American people, whose beginnings are also shackled by the dark chain links of slavery.

Long past the cruelty and chains of slavery, many African Americans exhibit a mentality of a broken will and spirit when it comes to handling money and finances; often borrowing instead of lending, consuming instead of producing and accumulating debt in the place of wealth.  There are no laws restraining any American from saving, investing and making sound financial decisions – there are only mental and emotional chains, past down from generations ago crossed over from the physical shackles into the very DNA and psyche of an entire people.

I can share these cold statistics of my people and not be moved to action; but since I have lived the hot reality of this phenomenon and I feel like the beaten down elephant trained for nothing more than a circus act, I can and will participate in my own rescue.  While I have earned the highest degree possible, a PhD and have achieved success in my endeavors as a military officer and a public school principal, I am chained with no wealth or investments to show for my nearly 30 years of service to my country and community.  Sadly, I made the choice like many Americans, to be restrained by systems that further enslaved me, perpetuating generational curses of lack and untapped potential.  Telling myself that I needed to trade my time for money, then turn around and spend the money I made without a plan. Such a small, substandard way of thinking and living is a crying shame in a country where wealth and the knowledge of how to gain that wealth is staring me right in the face.   I reported to a place that I did not want to be for years, left my children at daycare centers, crying all the way to work; trapped within my own self-limiting beliefs.  Although the entire country is on the verge of financial ruin, I cannot help but lament the fact that African Americans have been on that slippery slope for centuries.

So as animal rights advocates cry, “save the elephants from this circus cruelty”,  against chains which are public, pictured and documented, I must cry out to call attention to the mental chains that confine my people to spaces of poverty and lack.   The book, Money University has shone the light on this slave’s mentality; replacing it with hope and self-agency.  Provoking me to think. I’m living in the greatest nation in what is arguably the wealthiest time in world history.  Not only did I have the power and strength to break free, but I am compelled to lead others to financial freedom.  I can no longer point back and place blame on the original chains of: being raised without any understanding of money or money management, my own poor financial choices, dumb and careless expenditures, high interest loans, needless purchases and indulgences which added more and more tension to the mental chains that I had strapped upon myself.

This is America.  Period. I have to believe that can walk away, climb out, break free and work my way to freedom.  There’s a saying, “When you know better, you can do better”, which is a common spin on the Biblical principal that “people are destroyed for lack of knowledge”.  It’s not that the knowledge isn’t here, on every corner, yelling from the tops of our brand new Cadillac Escalades, it’s that our ears have been deafened and our eyes blinded by the chained up elephant in the room.  Blinded and deafened to dreams and visions we were created to pursue. I, and I alone am responsible.

Like the elephant, all I’ve ever known is the confines of the circus tent – afraid to venture outside to see a world of endless possibilities and step into the purpose and calling I was meant to fulfill.  Reaching back to pull up those coming behind and beside me, eyes wide open and ready to break the chains.

Anyone can break the chains of generations by applying the financial principles laid out in Money University.  So, I’m serving notice: Debt and dumb ass-ness no longer have visiting rights to my mental prison nor tickets to this silly circus.  I am a child of God, fearfully and wonderfully made in His image and likeness and I ain’t no circus act.

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