I contacted several attorneys to try to find someone to represent me. I understand that to try to defend myself is silly. It’s a fool’s game. I understood this. And so, I did try to follow the judicial process of having someone represent me, to represent my complaints.

I went through a list of lawyers, saw several lawyers, and paid several lawyers. Each of them gave an excuse as to why they couldn’t pursue my complaint. The question became, if everyone is rejecting the complaint, does a complaint even exist? Maybe it’s just an emotional response.

That may have been true. But here is the problem with that: primarily, a span of time had passed. Several months, in fact. I wasn’t responding immediately after a heated argument, when things are often said and later regretted. Time had passed. I could see things rationally. I could see the overview of everything. There was a clarity.

The second point, and perhaps the main point, is that my problem stemmed from working at a casino. Maybe the problem lay within this entity. Colleagues have confirmed this assumption when they’ve said things like, “They do whatever the hell they want to do; they don’t give a shit.”

My casino, my pinnacle fight, may be your issue with the vet, a bank, or the IRS. Through life we have been taught to accept blame and responsibility. But sometimes, it isn’t our fault. Sometimes it’s okay to point the finger at the other person.

And thirdly, what I did know was that there was a problem. A problem existed. My complaint was legitimate. How so? Because it had been this long, and I still saw with a rational mind that there was a problem. I still felt a sense of harm.

In life, one matures. I’ve come this far in life. I have matured. I’m also educated. My educational background is in business. This education has taught me certain rules and arguments that are applicable in everyday life. My thoughts are then screened through this educational foundation. Therefore, my complaint had filtered through these business rules and arguments. This made my argument that much more logical than, say, the complaint of the person who lacks maturity or the foundation of education—an education that, in my case, distinguishes between personal annoyances and true grievances.

A process was taken. The problem was conceptualized.

So this was where the problem lay. I knew that there was an injustice. I knew that I was wronged. So . . . what now? What do you do now? And that’s where I’ve come to understand that it is not about win or lose. It’s not about winning a lawsuit with a judgment of a hundred thousand or a million dollars. It comes down to defending yourself, defending your beliefs. That is what this is about. That is what it comes down to. Simple as that. Nothing more, nothing less.

I’ve come to terms with the potential consequences. I’ve come to terms with doing without. I know that from this point on—from this point on today—that when I have someone that looks up to me, that responds to me—whether this is my son, a brother, cousin, nephew, spouse, or loved one—I now know that I can say convincingly, “Stand for what you believe in.”

It’s easy for many to give advice on the right way to live or to advocate certain principles. But when some of these people stand before a mirror, a coward looks back at them. This is not what I want to be seen as.

I do not want my reflection of truth to be a coward. I want to be able to say that I stood for what I believed in. I want to be able to say that I was righteous and that I did everything I could to be proud of myself, to make my parents proud, to make my legacy proud, and to maintain the tradition of my lineage by living morally.

When I encountered the consequences of being wronged, I knew that the consequences were undeserved. I understand that there are battles and there are wars. Some things are seen as nontrivial, and some things are seen as trivial. The world is filled with excuses and misdirected explanations. But each wrong has its own weighted emotional impact.

The twenty dollars pilfered from me might be inconsequential to you, the bank, the judicial system, and the media. But if this is my last twenty dollars, it becomes, to me, the greatest robbery in existence. It’s a great loss. This is what a true, sincere belief comes down to: fighting for what matters despite how others perceive your loss. You should be able to say with unequivocal determination, “This has affected me. I have been punished. I have been wronged.”

Then you go forth and voice your hurt. It’s not about a win or a loss. In the end, if you do lose (from a judicial viewpoint), who cares? It wasn’t about the win. You had a grief. You fought for it. That is the win. This is . . . the nurturing of the soul. This is . . . what makes a person. This is . . . what defines character.

Every person can be a hero in his own mind. You can be a hero while playing games. You can be a hero to your family. You can be a hero in school, or on the Internet—by use of an anonymous name. But what it comes down to is this: what have you actually done to be a hero to yourself?

Not by wearing a uniform. Not in wearing an excuse. Not in wearing a flag; not by wearing a national pride. What have you done to be a hero to yourself? What is it that you have done that makes yourself proud? that gives you confidence? The answer to these questions will reveal your true worth as a hero.

Move forth with your own beliefs, whether they’re ridiculed, whether they’re not. Life is short. Life also seems long. In this time, whether it’s seen as a long journey or a short journey, there are certain parts of your life you should be able to reference that bring a warmth, a comfort, and a hug to your soul. For some, it may be their first child; others might recall their first A in school. For me, during this time, it has been standing for what I believe in.

All through my adult life, I’ve attempted to live the life of a businessman: affluent, even arrogant. A life that was seen by others as this way or that way. I’ve come to see that I wasn’t being the person I really am. When this happens—when this falsehood occurs—that is when there’s a shortfall. That is when there’s an abrupt ending. That is when there’s a divorce—sometimes literally.

Through life I found myself in a whirlwind of destruction. Every two or three years I found myself with broken relationships—personal and business. It was because I wasn’t living for what I believed in. Sure, I did things that made me feel proud of myself; I did try to be my true self, to bring forth things that mattered to me. But they were all watered down. They didn’t reflect the true me.

On this day, I’ve come to realize who I really am. If you look at me and want to call me silly, go ahead. There were many times I played a different role and was seen as being just as silly.

Which is better, being seen as silly when playing an artificial role, or being seen as silly when you are true to yourself—when you’re living out your true being—breathing directly from the soul—breathing with absolute passion? This is what really matters. This is who you are. This is . . . what you should strive to be—you. Be you.

Life is full of literature, concepts, insights, and knowledge. It’s your responsibility to take all of this knowledge—to take this insight—and pluck from it the elements that complement, or make sense to, your inner voice.

This is your responsibility. This is who you are. This is what you should do.

It’s too easy to find a life on TV, to find a life on a magazine cover. When do we find ourselves? When is it that we see ourselves for who we are? And are you comfortable presenting this person to the world without shame, without embarrassment? without fear or ridicule?

This is what we should strive for. This should be our goal. That is our mission. That is who we are.

So as we walk away from the day’s stresses, we should feel a renewed confidence in ourselves to take life and its stresses—its ugly, its shame, its wrongs—and try to auto-correct life, to create a correction for the world. If all of us would do this, there is a possibility that there would be a common element of good in the world, instead of an artificial good.

This should be our goal: for each to be comfortable with one another, so we aren’t threatened by one other. So that we’re comfortable with ourselves . . . and in being ourselves. Whether at home or the office.

The strongest predators of morality are defeated by goodness when a joke is heard, when the smile on a baby is seen, when an act of kindness is experienced—all achieved from an exchange of our ingrained good.

No matter how small or inconsequential something may seem to another, if we all stand for our inner beliefs—if everyone is doing something to ensure that there is a sense of ethics, a sense of directional morals in the steps they take, and they hold those morals to be true, and they’re quick to call out the wrongs, I see no harm to be among the first to join this moral high ground.

I envision the ripples of justice, righteousness, love, and appreciation trumping the splattered anomalies of those who commit wrongs. I can only hope that this brings about a removal of the camouflaged-ugly painted on some.

Let us rid these wrongs by refusing to re-gift the ugly and by responding morally and firmly. Let us move forward with our beliefs. Let us be ourselves.

 Let us . . . just . . . be ourselves.

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Excerpt  from You Against Them
Copyright © 2011-2012 by John-Talmage Mathis