God, The Po-lice, and My Mama

I was watching a documentary about gang life a while ago where a gentleman was interviewed and he was asked what he was afraid of. He replied, 'I ain't scared of shit except God, the po-lice, and my mama.' Hearing this struck me because those were the only things I was afraid of too.

God, The Po-lice, and My Mama
What does God, the po-lice, and my mama have in common?

I was watching a documentary about gang life a while ago where a gentleman was interviewed and he was asked what he was afraid of. He replied, 'I ain't scared of shit except God, the po-lice, and my mama.' Hearing this struck me because, at one point in time, those were the only things I was afraid of too. Don’t get me wrong, I still find the idea of marriage a bit unsettling, and it's true that the sight of needles makes me uncomfortable to the point that I’ve almost passed out while having blood drawn once or twice (who's counting?). But the only things that have actually put fear in my heart are God, the po-lice, and my mama. Believe it or not, human beings are very difficult to control. It may be fairly easy to trick someone once or twice but to actually control another person requires a great deal of force. This is why the church, the government, and my mama all felt the need to employ one of the most powerful forces there is in order to influence those they sought to control. That force, fear, has been used throughout history as a tool for molding behavior and securing obedience.

Fear is so effective because it is a primal instinct that, when paired with pressure, can easily override logic, driving people towards a certain action or away from it. The church uses the fear of divine punishment, the government, the fear of lost liberty, and a mother might use the fear of mental, physical, or emotional pain to guide her children. These entities understand that fear can be more effective than reason, persuasion, or even kindness in producing immediate results in others. And I get it — on some level obedience is necessary in order to have a functioning society, organization, or home. However, I've learned that true obedience can not be forced through fear but rather has to be inspired through love.

For the Love of God

A question I love to ask supposed believers in God is, "Do you love God or are you just afraid of dying?" because, for most religious people, I think the latter is true. In my opinion, temples, churches, mosques, and ashrams would not exist if it weren't for the presence of suffering and the fear of death. In fact, I feel that "God," as most people understand it, is simply an attempt to make sense of suffering, and what inspires religion in most people is their desire not to suffer in this life or the next. This is why the promise of Heaven and the fear of Hell are such powerful influences on behavior. But if we lived in a world where nothing ever went wrong, nothing ever hurt, and nothing was ever lost, I don't think there would be any interest in God at all.

I spent a lot of time at church in my youth.

I was raised to be God-fearing. In church on Sundays, the subject of Hell and the sinners that would fill it was a common topic preached from the pulpit. Hell was most often the 'why' supporting the behaviors our pastor preached we should adopt as 'good Christians.' He would also sometimes speak about God's love, but from his perspective, God's love was conditional and wholly dependent on whether we were obedient. If not, God's 'love' was replaced by jealousy, wrath, anger, and eternal punishment. Although I identified as a Christian until my early 20s, I was never a stranger to what I was taught to be sin, which created an internal conflict in me that produced a lot of shame, guilt, and fear surrounding how God was judging me for my actions. However, even though I experienced these negative emotions due to the discrepancy between my behavior and my beliefs, the fear of Hell was never a powerful enough motivator to make me obedient to God's will.

My mother getting diagnosed with the deadliest form of cancer tempered my fear of God because it tempered my belief in God. I could no longer pledge allegiance to a God that would let such an evil thing happen to my mother. Not only that, as I mentioned in a prior newsletter, "Who Is LIke God?", it also inspired me to truly seek God for the first time in my life, not out of fear, but out of curiosity to get to the bottom of why we live in such a fucked up world. And as I mentioned in that newsletter, I eventually found God and with my discovery came an overwhelming sense of love, peace, and power and an absolute absence of fear. The encounter I had with what I can only describe as "God" changed my life instantly and wholly because of the love I experienced through it. Those 30 minutes in the closet did more to influence my behavior in a positive way than the prior 1,248 Sundays I'd spent as a 'God-fearing Christian' prior to it. The love of God inspired an obedience in me for the will of God that the fear of God could never come close to accomplishing.

For the Love of Micheal

One of many photos that changed the course of my life.

I remember when Trayvon Martin was killed and everyone was in an uproar about it. A protest for him in Columbia, SC was the first one I'd ever attended, and to be honest, I only went because my friends were going. At the time, I honestly didn't really see the point in it. Don't get me wrong — I definitely understood that Trayvon being murdered for no other reason than being black, and his killer being acquitted, was an injustice, but to me, that's just how things were. To my understanding, at that time, it was just something that came with the territory of being black, so I didn't really get why we were making such a big deal out of it. My black family and the black culture at large had made it clear to me growing up that the police are not my friends, which meant I had a pretty healthy fear of them for as long as I can remember, but this fear intensified significantly in August of 2014.

It was just a couple of months after I'd learned that my mom had cancer, and I was still reeling in pain from that announcement when I opened the Twitter app on my phone and saw the name "Mike Brown" trending. After clicking the topic, the first thing that I saw was the image of a black body lying face down on a hot summer street with a white cop standing over it, seemingly with pride, as if he'd just downed a prized animal. A few minutes of research followed to try and gather as many details as I could, but honestly, I didn't need many more than what that image provided me. I don't know if it was because his name was Michael, like mine, and that made it hit extra close to home, or if it was because my mother's cancer diagnosis already had me in a vulnerable state where everything I was feeling was intensified, but either way, something inside of me got deeply triggered by seeing someone who looked like me murdered in cold blood by the police, and it produced a rage that radicalized me and made me an almost militant enemy of the state. With this rage came a newfound passion for resisting the oppression that the police had been inflicting on my community, and with this passion, also power. A power that at first made me feel like I could assist in the destruction of the establishment, but what I didn't realize at the time is that with this power also came a heightened sense of fear of the establishment and of the police who served them, which ultimately made me easier to control by them.

Shot I took at a Black Lives Matter protest in Charlotte, NC around 2016.

One of my favorite quotes is, "He who angers you, controls you," which is why I disagree that anger can be used for good. It's impossible to make a clear decision from a state of anger because anger drastically distorts our perception of reality. This is why it's impossible to respond with intelligence from a state of anger, and why it is to the benefit of the oppressor to keep the oppressed angry. After Mike Brown's murder, it seemed like another name of an executed black person was trending every week, and eventually, I couldn't help but feel like I had a target on my back as well. This meant that whenever I was out and saw a police officer or a police car, I immediately felt a sense of fear and anxiety, which ultimately made me not want to leave the house at all. This paranoia eventually became paralyzing—my hatred of the police was rooted in my fear of them, and this fear ironically made me much less effective in resisting the power the police had over me.

It is true that the American police system has roots in slave patrols whose purpose was to maintain control over and oppress black people. However, if we dig a little deeper, it's easy to see that the modern manifestation of the police exists because of our collective fear of ourselves and one another. The reason the police have so much power is because we collectively fear each other and don't feel safe within ourselves or our communities. Our fear of one another has led to a commitment to separation and a division of resources that leaves some communities with more and others with less. Communities with less often resort to crime as a way to make ends meet, which in turn reinforces the perceived need for police. With this understanding, the only route to actually abolishing the police is through love and compassion for one another. If we truly cared for and supported our neighbors, we would have less of a need for police because there would be less poverty, less injustice, and therefore, less crime.

Ironically, the way to truly dismantle the corrupt power of the police is not through anger and resistance to their existence but rather through compassion and understanding of one another. It seems counterintuitive, but the only way to end our oppression is by loving our oppressors and each other enough to neutralize the fear that keeps their systems of division intact. I've attended many more protests since that first one for Trayvon Martin in 2013, and though I haven't been to a protest against police brutality in quite a while, I'm still protesting, just in a different way. The truth is, I am always protesting. It's just that now my protest is rooted in love instead of fear.

Shot I took of myself at a Black Lives Matter protest in Oklahoma City, OK around 2015.

For the Love of My Mama

My mother was well-feared in our family, even by the men. Physically, her stature wasn't that imposing; she was only about 5'7", so it wasn't a fear that she could physically hurt you. By the time I was 12 or 13, I was already bigger than her, which meant that if I truly felt endangered by her, I could easily overpower her physically. What made my mother such a figure to be feared was her energy. She did not play games, and you could feel it. She didn’t have to say much, but her words were very impactful. She could cut you deeply mentally and emotionally, and she was not afraid of hurting your feelings. Consciously or unconsciously, my mother understood that fear is a powerful tool for control, and because she was raising boys who would soon be too big to physically fear her, she needed to employ mental and emotional fear tactics to get me and my brothers to obey her. An innocent example of this would be her telling my baby brother, after he'd just learned how to crawl, not to go back into her bedroom unattended because there was a big dog in there that would get him if he did. Which makes sense because a toddler can't be reasoned with, so I can understand why a parent would use fear to guide their behavior. But the fear my mother used never really made me want to obey her as much as it made me want to find creative ways of getting around her rules.

From left to right: my mama, the 911 director for Sandy Hook, and my mama's best friend, Jennifer, at a 911 dispatcher's conference.

Another example of my mother using fear to influence behavior is when we had the 'sex talk' when I was 19. Somehow she could sense that I was sexually active and said something to me to the effect of, "Micheal, you can't be out here having sex with these girls and then not wanting to be with them — it will make them crazy." She was trying to instill the fear of crazy women into me in hopes that it would deter me from being a womanizer, but what she didn't realize at the time is that I didn’t find women being crazy over me to be scary at all. I kind of liked it. For better or worse, I still like my women a bit 🤏🏾 crazy, so the fear of that happening was not enough to deter my behavior at the time. What would have been much more effective advice would have been to say, "Micheal, you shouldn’t be out here using women for their bodies because it's selfish, unkind, unloving, unfair, and it will ultimately emotionally damage them and yourself." If she would have appealed to my heart instead of my ego, she likely would have had a much better chance of influencing my behavior. I don't say this as a mark against my mother because she was doing the best she could with the knowledge and understanding she had at the time, but to further reinforce the theme of this newsletter, which is that love is a stronger influence on behavior than fear is.

In fact, it is the love of God, the love of my mama, and the love of myself that has been the greatest influence on my behavior as an adult over the past 10 years. I'm definitely not perfect. I definitely still have ideas and behaviors that cause harm to myself and those closest to me at times, but I am also much more obedient to my understanding of God, my mother, and my own heart than I've ever been before. Not because I fear Hell, or my mother's words, or my own failure but because I love God, I love my mother, and I love myself. And this love I feel for each of these entities has inspired me to live a life that I can both be proud of and find peace in. My life in its current state is a reflection of a deep desire I have to honor my mother's life and her sacrifices. Who I am today is a reflection of the love that she uses to guide me in Spirit now that she's no longer bound and confused by the fear that was produced by her body.

My mama's dispatch co-workers showing support for her fight with pancreatic cancer.

While earth side, my mother was full of contradictions. For instance, she once said to me as a little boy "if she can't use my comb, don't bring her home" in regards to me dating a white girl however, her best friend in the whole world was a white woman. Though she taught me at an early age to fear the police, she also worked closely with them as a 911 dispatcher for 15 years and would threaten to call them on me and my older brother during many of our fights in our teenage years. She was very street savvy but also very religious. Which, is why "God, the po-lice, and my mama" was such a profound thing for me to hear, because for me, these three things were always intertwined. What God knows, what my mother learned, and what I can only hope the police and the governments of the world someday realize, is that love is a much stronger influence on obedience than fear could ever be. And unlike fear, when love guides you, it does so without harming you. Without brainwashing you, disabling you, or binding you within some rigid box of rules but instead it gives you the freedom to explore and discover the true power of loving obedience within your own heart.

Growth Challenge

Objective: Interview your mother or a mother like figure in your life.

I've found that people love being interviewed because it makes us feel like someone is interested in getting to know who we are on a deeper level. I feel like, by and large, we feel entitled to (and oppressed by, lol) familial relationships which makes it feel unnecessary to try and get to know our loved ones outside of their roles.

So the challenge for this week is to interview your mother or a mother like figure in your life, as if they are someone you don't know. I encourage you to ask them questions that will help deepen your relationship which means seeing them as another human being and not just as your mother.

I think this will be most effective if you ask questions that are unique to your relationship with your mother but here are some questions to get you started.

  1. What dreams and aspirations did you have when you were my age, and how have they evolved over time?
  2. Can you share a story about a time you overcame a significant challenge? What did you learn from that experience?
  3. What are some of the most significant changes you've seen in the world during your lifetime? How have they impacted you personally?
  4. Who were your role models growing up, and in what ways did they influence you?
  5. If you could give advice to your younger self, what would it be, and why?
  6. What are some of your favorite traditions or hobbies that you haven’t shared much about, and what do they mean to you?
  7. Can you describe a moment when you felt incredibly proud of yourself? What made that moment stand out?
  8. Is there a particular song, book, or movie that has been significant in your life? How has it affected you?
  9. What was the hardest decision you ever had to make? Looking back, how do you feel about your choice?
  10. How do you hope to be remembered by your friends and family? What values do you wish to pass on?
  11. Was there ever a time that you regretted having children?

Happy Mother's Day

I want to give a special shoutout to all the mothers in my community today. Surprisingly, mother's day isn't that hard on me because I truly feel my mother's presence all the time. Thoreau once said "Nature abhors a vacuum", and I've found that to be true in my own life because ever since my mother left her physical body, I've been blessed with many other mother like energies who've come in my life with a desire to care for me in different ways and I'm really grateful for all of you. To be a mother is truly a Divine faculty and does not mean that you physically have to birth a child but rather that you consciously choose to nurture a creation and do everything in your power to help it grow. And I am thankful to all the mothers in my life today and every day.

I was looking through my mother's facebook for pictures for this newsletter and came across this post that I made for her birthday back in 2019 that resonated with me today.

What's Going On With Me?

I am currently working on being less distracted. Sometimes life throws things on our path that knocks us out of alignment which means for a period we may find ourselves in patterns of behaviors that do not support our purpose or highest good. My transition from the past phase of my life into the one I'm currently in has not been smooth, to say the least, and it's taken the better part of this year so far to process everything that's been happening on an energetic level and get back to a level of discipline that would allow me to look, feel, and perform at my best. When we are out of alignment, distractions become very attractive because they allow us to shift the focus from what we should be doing to something that will provide immediate gratification. So I'm working on bringing more discipline back into my life so that the back half of this year will be a lot more focused and intentional than the front half. That being said, I also understand that life is not a race to a particular destination so I'm trying to find the balance between patience for where I currently and action towards where I want to be.

I've also been contemplating what I want to do with my business or if I even want a business. I've realized that what I actually want is to not be financially dependent on a 9-5 but not necessarily to be a business owner. I think to be a successful business owner, you have to love money, and I just don't. I'm not really motivated by money. I have enough of it to sustain the lifestyle that I want so it's very difficult for me to do things that I don't want to do in order to gain more of it. I would love to someday be able to support myself financially through helping others but I just don't know if I have what it takes to manifest that reality, not because I don't have the mental capacity, but because I refuse to see people as a means to an end and I don't know if you can run a profitable business without doing that.

I'll only be 33 for a couple more months and am highly considering treating myself to a solo vacation for my 34th. If you have any suggestions for where I should go, please let me know! Also, I'm always interested in what's going on in your life and my email is always open if you want to start a dialogue (ms@michealsinclair.com).

Love you all and I'll talk to you next week,

Micheal Sinclair 💜