Not Drinking and Malcolm X

Howdy. I just have a few quick things to say so i am going commando again this time! For those of you playing the home game, today is day 26 of no booze for Renfroe, and i feel pretty good.

Today presented the closest thing to a true “test” for me so far on this leg of the journey. Not a very hard test, and i passed, but still the first potential stumbling block.

I have not been really alone since i quit, until today. I do currently live with my folks and my grandpa and it is pretty easy on the day to day to leave it behind. Most days i don’t even think about it.

I went to an LYP mixer event at a bar last night and stayed after the event to listen to a band until midnight. It was not remotely difficult to avoid drinking there. In fact it was great not to drink there. I got $20.00 in cash before going out and i came home with $16.00. How many times have you been in a bar from 7 ’til midnight and spent $4.00??

But today mom, dad, and grandpa went out of town for the weekend. I love being alone. I have enjoyed it for as long as i can remember. I also love drinking alone, or being alone and drinking. I would drink around other people, but that was always different than drinking alone (with a few exceptions). We will get into all that later, for now i just wanted to broach the topic.

Drinking alone has been one of my favorite things to do for about 25 years. Having the opportunity come up today did give me pause and make me think about it. I did not seriously consider going out to buy my preferred beverages, but it was the first time i had to stop and consciously re-affirm my decision to stay sober. Things don’t usually get too tough for me until around 6 -8 months. I get my life more on track. I start to feel pretty good. I usually have a seriously increased exercise routine. Often i have quit smoking during that time. I am not even thinking about booze anymore. And then i start to say, “hey man, you got this licked. Things are back on easy street. Have a beer and enjoy yourself.” When i do that, i generally maintain an even keel for 2-8 months before the wheels start to come off and i am back to consuming way too much and for all the wrong reasons.

Hopefully i can stay vigilant and A) get that far again and B) avoid the 6-8 month victory voice idiot in my head. That guy has a lot of bad advice.

On to Malcolm X.

Malcolm X died February 21, 1965. I love Malcolm. I think i have read every one of his speeches that have been published. I have read a ton of other Malcolm material including his FBI file. But i do still feel that there is no better way to experience Malcolm than to listen to Malcolm. It was the 60s so the sound quality varies greatly, but there are loads of legal sources online to listen to Malcolm for free. If you are not very familiar with Malcolm, or have a bad impression of him, i can’t recommend enough that you read The Autobiography of Malcolm X as told to Alex Haley. If you can’t afford it, i will buy you a copy (limited to first 25 serious inquiries).

One of his best speeches, in my opinion, is The Battle or the Bullet. Malcolm is one of those guys that was often misquoted and quoted out of context. It happens so much these days that many people take it for granted and do a little research before basing their opinions on the millisecond sound-byte from Big News Show. (Really Renfroe? Many people do that? – We can hope right?) With Malcolm, there was a concerted effort to use every means possible to discredit him in the public eye. I don’t believe that any other single individual did more to throw support and in particular white support behind Dr King than Malcolm. If you can present Malcolm as the scary angry violent black man ready to come to your house and kill you, sit-ins with Dr King start to look a lot more appealing.

Malcolm is one of the very few public figures in human history who cared enough about truth and a scientific approach to the union of belief and principle that he actually changed his mind about deeply held beliefs multiple times over the course of his life. When he encountered evidence that challenged his beliefs, he did not seek ways to justify his belief anyway, he changed his belief to fit the facts. That is not easy.

The Ballet or the Bullet provides a great glimpse into Malcolm’s thinking after his first Hajj. He had left the Nation of Islam and started the Moslem Mosque Inc. This was a few months before he would found the Organization for Afro American Unity. But it was during this period when he was beginning to build support and advocate for a new approach to the civil rights struggle. Call it simply a human rights struggle and plead a case before the UN as many other oppressed peoples around the globe had done.

There is a ton of great information in here as well as a few laugh out loud jokes. Malcolm’s oratory style is captivating. Check it out folks.

Download Ballet or the Bullet – The speech start about 3:31 into this recording.