I am no stranger to success or fear. I have experienced them equally and often simultaneously. There is a great text that states, “to whom much is given much is required”. There is a weight that I have been carrying for sometime when speaking with men. I have the blessed gift of being a people person and engaging the incarcerated drug-dealer to the non-degreed business professional over fifty that’s still looking for opportunities to show how great they are for an employer. Whether they are married or single, young our old, the common phrase I find between them is “I feel forgotten”.
What happens to the individual that didn’t succumb to the streets or found themselves on the higher end of education? What becomes of the individual that simply wasn’t dumb enough to waste their lives on negative associations or smart enough to hang in the circles of the academically successful and astute? Where do they fit in, where do we fit in, where do we belong and how do we overcome and be infused into as society that is more than willing to accept us if we push pass the fear that holds us hostage and show our worth?
There was a time in American society where it wasn’t necessary to have institutionalized training or profound academic success. We can say it was predominantly in the era where American flags were actually made in America. Manufacturing and the lingering effects of the Industrial Revolution across a century put processes in place that with an acute attention to detail you could carry out any task. Any individual that had a mind to work, The Forgotten Ones where there to fill the role unequivocally. My first consultant job in IT I had no degree, less than a year of exposure to technology and I had never heard of a certification course. Why was I hired? I’m glad you asked. I was told I had personality, something a true technologist often lacked. I was told, “I can teach you to be technical; I can’t teach you to have a personality”.
Then society shifted. The more people with college degrees, the more society changed how it acquired its workforce. Academic fervor began to overshadow individuals, like myself, where college wasn’t an option (at least no real introduction). A changing of the guard took place where experience became tertiary, networking became secondary, and scholarly success became primary. Academia became the ruling stamp of corporate America. In the shadows of this new (and necessary) paradigm a group of individuals lost their way. They began to feel inadequate and useless. They were replaced with younger, more educated, lightly qualified individuals that just happen to have the means, drive, financial and parental support to make it through college successfully (and hopefully without much debt). This older group fell into a shadow of success and started seeking jobs just to live. Places where their collegiate success, or lack thereof, would not be subjected to scrutiny. There is a society of secret lives being lived by men and women that fear has kept bound and as long as that fear lives potential success will always be a shadow of the past and a prosperous future will remain a figment of one’s imagination while dreams, goals, and hope dissipate.
In essence, I write all this to say that The Forgotten Ones are not forgotten. It is our error and strange relationship with fear that has caused us to believe society doesn’t care about what we can bring to the table. We have forgotten we live in an America that still allows individuals, regardless of academic achievement, to flourish. Less Brown, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Chicago’s Willie Wilson are just a few individuals that have attained great gain in life. Yes, money comes with it, but I know people that make considerably less money than me that go on vacations, take family trips and live thriving peaceful lives. It’s about the dream that never dies, the hope that never burns out, and the desire that is only satisfied when purpose and not money is the wealth of achievement. Simply put, we have forgotten that we have made it this far by God’s grace. We have forgotten that we have the support of friends and family to help us along the way. Forgotten Ones, we have simply forgotten to believe that we can achieve anything. It is not society that has cast us away; we failed to keep the dream alive and in doing so we forgot ourselves. Start to………remember.