I applaud all professors who will be teaching my book, Barrio Bushido, for this coming Spring 2011 semester. I am now producing lesson plans to help them with this new genre of literature, a Latino urban philosophical Barrio Bushido genre. These professors are brave souls who have chosen to use a text that is radical but ripe for our era. They have chosen to put into action true student equity. And when we talk about student equity, I hope we can be honest with what type of equity we are talking about: we are talking about equity for Black and Brown students. These students need leaders who will discuss Barrio Bushido related themes. Professors may not be trained in leadership, but they are leaders nonetheless. While creating lesson plans for the book, I have pondered over a section in the book where Toro, one of the protagonists, reflects on what he has learned from the Marines and what he will give back to the varrio. On page 140 he says that there are only two objectives of Marine Corps leadership: 1. Mission accomplishment and 2. Troop Welfare.
Troops are people who must be taken care of, especially if they are on your mission. You have a duty to take care of those who follow you. You do what you can so that they can make it through the journey. But leaders must remember that their journey is not the troops’ ultimate journey. If we teach a person to tie his shoes, we cannot delude ourselves that we have solved their problems forever. Our ultimate abstract goal, then, matters most; my spirit, our energy is the point of the entire exercise. The number one priority is mission accomplishment.
But what is mission accomplishment? In the Marines it is to take a hill or to destroy a bridge or to break apart a weapon or to kill. War is hard but clear. Peace and the battle for peace are harder and muddier. Having a conversation with my nephew, my son now that my brother has gone, we discussed generalizations about the point of life. I made a reference about love being the ultimate motivator to accomplish tasks. He gave a standard, Machiavellian retort: Fear motivates people. I agreed. When people want to simply survive, they learn to fear and eventually hate. Hate and fear are intertwined. And yes, fear does help to keep you breathing. When we are scared, we protect ourselves, and this does help us exist. But it is only with love that we truly live. With love we create things that are not based in fear. With love we go beyond our imaginations, and it is with love that we are actually free.
Going back to mission accomplishment, I know many different exciting things are in store for me and for us in the year to come. Of course, I have many concrete Marine-like goals such as selling the book, writing a new one, and speaking at various venues; but the muddier grander mission is the hardest one: Love. Sometimes we feel so alone in the universe, and we spend our days pretending that things matter, but it is love that is the goal, the mission of everything.
My mission is to love, and if you are with me, then our mission is to love.
These are the hardest yet most beautiful words I will ever say in my life. They are words that I have always sung about while listening to homeboy soul oldies, yet they are words that I struggle to fully understand. I have been afraid of the meaning and feeling behind these words because I know that they require a responsibility and a genuine hope for a future I will never see:
I wish you love.