“Where some people saw hard rock kids, he saw precious jewels. He reminded me that diamonds are formed by pressure, covered in dirt. But then you polish them, and they shine.”
– Luke Cage, Luke Cage
Season 1, Episode 5, “Just to Get a Rep”
Can you tell I enjoyed Luke Cage? 😉
I’m not really sure what I can add to this quote, outside stating how obviously true it is, and how profoundly powerful.
It is a sadly rare gift to see the truth of a person’s worth. We look at others, and ourselves, and we see only what is lacking. We see the circumstances, ours or theirs, and think that is the limit of us. Janitors, grease monkeys, burger flippers, punks on the street going nowhere in life. How much worth is there in that?
But a person’s worth is not determined by where they live or where they work. We all have worth, automatically, and those that have had hard lives tend to be stronger for it. I’ve heard a wise man say, “I’ve never met a strong person with an easy past.”
Some of us have pasts that would make most people blanch. Some of us come from lives where the only constant was an immense pressure to do, to perform, to survive. Some of us bear the weight of past misdeeds which can never be truly made right.
But that’s no reason not to try, eh?
Pop himself was one such. He grew up as a thug on the streets. He was a criminal. He went to prison, did time. Then he came out, and went straight. And with his terrible past, he became strong. Strong enough to endure another lifetime in a hard, dangerous place. Strong enough to listen to people’s problems all day and make them laugh. Strong enough that he planted himself in one spot and sheltered his fellow man, especially the young people. Because he knew their circumstances, and he saw their worth.
I have noticed, sometimes, when we lose sight of what is worthwhile in ourselves, it is what others see in us that determines how we see ourselves. If they believe we are worthless, we take that in, and it colors our perspective. On the other hand, if we have someone who simply, despite all reason not to, believes in us… well, that can prove our saving grace. Like a candle burning low, ready to go out, suddenly being touched by another candle, and reignited.
So how great is that simple gift to see it? To look at these kids that the world ignores and doesn’t think is worth its time, and say, “They’re treasures, worth fighting for. They just need a little polishing, is all.” How awesome is that?