HARD TIMES? BUILD YOUR SOUNDTRACK, BABY!
“When you’ve been through hard times—and you come out; when they come around again, they’re an old, familiar friend!”
A few years back, there was a major economic downturn. Companies were going under. Unemployment was on the rise. One wise business owner observed the goings on. Using great people skills, the business owner called his employees together and made the following statement: “I understand that this country is in a recession. I have decided that WE are not going to participate in it!” The result? Not one employee was laid off, and business at the company and got better. This businessman respected himself and his employees.
He had faith in knowing that change begins in the heart long before it gets to the mouth.
Over the past few months, I’ve heard more than a few media ‘wise guys’ and ‘smart gals’ talk about 2021 as being a ‘hard’ year just like the last one. They have nothing in their mouths nor their brains. Check it: This column has decided to ‘part ways’ with that assessment and assure my readership that WE are NOT going to participate in it! 2021 is merely a year and nothing to be feared. The good and the bad happen in life. Best learn how to ‘soldier on’ in hard times.
SOME HARSH TRUTH:
Now, I have lived through hard times…with still more than a few rivers God has for me to cross. This year does not come close to hard times for an Old Soldier such as myself (and those of my Boomer generation which the ‘20 and 30 somethings’ like to snicker about). We came through Vietnam, Watergate, the tech bubble, and more than our share of flus, illnesses, gas shortages, idiot politicians and personal tragedies.
During my teaching days a few years back, I recall one group of students who were gushing over having the new IPod when it rolled off the assembly line. My generation came up with tape. When your tape messed up, you learned how to fix it to make the music last. Why? Taught you how to take care of your stuff! Plus, you didn’t know when you’d be able to buy another tape or record as money was usually tight in EVERYONE’S home! When the IPod kids got their earbuds snagged or broken, they went through a case of the ‘mopes’ because they didn’t have a way to listen to their tunes when THEY wanted to.
Would you like to know why sooooo many of the ‘20 and 30 something’ crowd are calling 2021 a ‘hard’ year? Simply put, many of them ain’t been through nothing (if I may turn off my grammar check for a moment)! Many of them have been coddled, pampered, and sheltered from suffering and doing without since BIRTH. Many of the same youth who were out protesting and rioting for ‘social justice’ a few months ago (and getting paid under the table) have little in the way of common sense regarding the realities of life…especially respect of elders who have gone before them.
The ‘20 and 30 something’ crowd have not faced REAL trials and challenges. Further, when one has never been through a storm--a stiff, cold breeze seems like a hurricane. Life—based upon life in this fallen world—is always going to be paved with peaks and valleys. One cannot get to the lofty peaks without going through the challenges in the valleys.
Would you like to know ANOTHER harsh truth? The reason why much of the public education infrastructure has been messed up for the last twenty or so years is due to the effort to ‘neutralize’ reality among our young people—and their parents have accepted it. In one way, schools have phased out the success of academic achievement, and have brought in social promotion on steroids! No one fails! Johnny can’t read (but the children of Johnny’s teachers can as many of them go to the same private and charter schools their unions protest against!)
The strategy has worked in a major way—but on many of the wrong people. While Satan and his crowd are expert in setting traps for the innocent and righteous of God, too many times his minions fall into those same traps. Satan owns them…and YOU know them! Hollywood, professional sports, the mainstream mess and government (among others) have been believing the lies many of them have helped to create. Many of these ‘20 and 30 something’ individuals are not able to think, reason, or spot a lie when it is put on a plate in front of them.
THE STAPLE SINGERS—LEADING MY ‘HARD TIMES’ SOUNDTRACK:
What got ‘Boomers’ through many tough stretches of life’s road? I’ll be more than happy to share a few of our ‘secrets’ with you. First, we knew where the church house was! We also knew the God of the KJV Bible and were NOT ashamed to pray to Him through a solid relationship with Jesus Christ. Yes, there were arguments about young people going to church.
Thankfully, many of those arguments were lost on parents AND grandparents who were not ashamed to enforce our ‘drug’ problem—that it, dragging many of us to church, under protest.
The great thing? Church wasn’t that bad once you got there and discovered not only the preaching of the Word of God by an upright (not uptight) Man of God but the songs that were sung by the faithful and our church choirs. One of the Scriptures that sticks with me out of the Bible? Proverbs 24:10 (KJV): “If thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small.” What does it mean? You build up strength of character and spirt BY the Bible before and IN hard times!
The ‘inner man’ needs to be fed DAILY. Music is one of those ways to refresh the spirit. That’s why good music—especially music inspired by the Scriptures--will uplift. Put the trash of the world in your ears and it heads to your heart, and soon your attitude is poisoned along with your spirit. Thus, the development of one’s own kicking soundtrack MUST have an inclusion of solid Gospel Music. Today’s ’30 somethings’ are spending much of their time running away from God. When times get hard, the best thing to do is run TO God. Amen?
Another secret? Have the good sense to ask your elders how they ‘got over’ hard times and bad circumstances when life doesn’t seem to play fair. Old folks don’t have that grey in their temples just for show. Many had to come up the rough side of the mountain to succeed AND thrive.
During the ‘hard time’ portions of the seventies many Black artists had some foundation in the church, as they started their musical careers in the church during the fifties and sixties. Gospel, R&B, Soul and Jazz all came from the same root system of godly spiritual inspiration. One truly special ‘down home’ Gospel group that hit the charts was “The Staple Singers”. Their breakthrough hits “Respect Yourself” and “I’ll Take You There” were part of the foundation my soundtrack which I was blessed to build to kept me on track and on goal during some of the trials and tribulations which hit my life. More importantly, their music stressed the fact that God was real, and His church…nor His servants…were NOT to be trifled with.
As I bring this column to a close, here is my ‘hard times’ soundtrack from the seventies. I trust it will bless you, and feel free to build your own playlist to get you through:
- Staple Singers: “I’ll Take You There”
- Earth Wind and Fire: “That’s The Way of the World”
- The Temptations: “Ball of Confusion
- Eddie Kendricks: “Keep On Truckin”
- Lou Rawls: “A Natural Man”
- Tavares: “It Only Takes a Minute”
- Fifth Dimension: “Puppet Man”
- O Jays: “Backstabbers”
- Staple Singers: “Respect Yourself”
- Earth, Wind and Fire: “Shining Star”
- William DeVaughn: “Be Thankful for What You Got”
- Chicago: “Life Saver”
- The Incredible Bongo Band: “Bongo Rock”
- Billy Preston: “Outa Space”
- Kool and the Gang: “Funky Granny”
- Chic: “Funny Bone”
- The Crusaders: “Put It Where You Want It”
- Average White Band: “Pick Up The Pieces”
- Parliament: “Flash Light”
- Heatwave: “The Groove Line”
- Tavares: “Bad Times”
Mike Ramey is a Minister, syndicated columnist and book reviewer who lives in Indianapolis, Indiana. “The Ramey Commentaries” is one of a variety of his written works appearing in cyberspace. To drop a line—or a whine—the address is still the same: firstname.lastname@example.org. ©2021 Barnstorm Communications International.