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Motivation: How to Get Fired Up Again

Motivation: How to Get Fired Up Again

Rev. Jaron S. Green
Why is Trump afraid of emerging economies? Why is he insistent upon forging wars with the countries of the world?  What is the true reason behind his capitalistic cannibalism or his stereotypifying degradation? What is the truth behind any of his actions, period?  Is Trump mentally ill, ignorantly overconfident, innately evil, purely racist, narcissitically greedy – or – Is he motivated by some other extreme yet to be determined?
For years, I have pondered the notion of motivation.  At one point, I planned to center my doctoral research around motivation and high achievement among African American men as a theoretical construct to explain behavior.  Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “It’s all right to tell a man to lift himself by his own bootstraps, but it is cruel jest to say to a bootless man that he ought to lift himself by his own bootstraps.”  African American men, victims of racial discrimination, of economic immobility, of mass incarceration, of emasculation, still find a way to overcome humiliation and oppression in order to do battle in the war on Black men.   

Motivation represents the reasons for a person’s actions, desires, and needs.  We need, we desire, therefore we act. African Americans need to feel valued in an environment that continually messages that we are not valued due to our race or ethnicity.  We desire to affect beliefs and attitudes, albeit impossible to know nor legislate the hearts of men. We act in order to dismantle institutional arrangements that denigrate individuals or groups because of phenotypic characteristics, such as skin color.  However, Dr. Eddie S. Glaude, Jr., renowned author, scholar and Princeton professor (Religion and African American studies), noted, “as we continue to fixate on Trump and the circus he commands, please remember that he is only a severe symptom of what is wrong with our democracy.”  Glaude continued, “Much more is required of us than projecting all of the country’s sickness on to this monstrous figure.”  


“To whom much is given, much is required.”  In the Bible, the requirement, the mandate, for movement is given.  America is the land of “much” and yet we still remain stagnant.


There’s much intelligence in the United States.  According to the National Center for Education Statistics, Forbes, and the National Student Clearinghouse, about 57-59 percent of students seeking a bachelor’s degree completed that degree within 6 years. Women’s graduation rates are higher than men’s (62 percent vs. 56 percent).  Americans have intelligence and the ability to discern the times and extremely complex issues. Why, then, is the moral compass of intelligent people pointed in the wrong direction? Isn’t freedom and it’s pursuit embedded in the very fabric of our society? Why aren’t we motivated to move forward, to protect, and to live indivisibly as required by the God whom we pledge allegiance to?  Perhaps, the endowed rights of some are more inalienable than the rights of others. Perhaps, the Creator whom Thomas Jefferson spoke about in the Declaration of Independence is a different Creator than who is spoken of in the Bible, and different still than that who is preached in pulpits to justice-seeking congregations today.


We have had much opportunity.  It’s been 399 years since the first Africans arrived in Jamestown, Virginia as indentured servants – the precursor to two centuries of debasing humans as a source of slave labor.  It’s been 153 years since slavery was abolished in 1865. It’s been 141 years since Reconstruction was deconstructed in 1877, and citizenship, voting rights, political power, and elected offices were snatched from African Americans.  Jim Crow laws segregating races reigned between 1877 and the 1960s. Let’s be honest, a residual Jim Crow mentality exists still today. How much opportunity is required to correct societal wrongs and make strides toward good?  Dr. King said, “We have come a long, long way, but we have a long way to go.”  Perhaps, there isn’t enough expected return or value ascribed to true justice, righteousness, and accountability in America (not merely punishment) to motivate people in power to take direct action in confronting historic and present day atrocities.


After hitting a slow period in my independent research and writing, I remember reaching out to my dissertation committee chair to ask for direction.  I was truly seeking motivation because her past comments had been so effective for me. However, she simply stated, “all motivation is intrinsic,” basically signalling that I needed find my own way to get fired up again.


It is time to get fired up again.  Motivation is simply the inner desire to do something.  It’s the difference between waking up, putting your feet on the ground to pound the pavement and sitting on the sofa, lazing around the house all day, as you binge watch your favorite Netflix series.  Motivation is the crucial element in setting and attaining goals. According to Psychology Today, research shows you can influence your own levels of motivation.  So, figure out what you want, what you want to see, and what you want to change.  Move beyond your personal limitations and let God speak to you through your imagination.  Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “God himself does not speak prose, but communicates with us by hints, omens, inference and dark resemblances in objects lying all around us.”  


Rest, reflect, and rejuvenate.  Power through the pain period. Get fired up again.  Decide what kind of human being you want to be in the world.  Start being who you want to be, and doing what you’ve been called to do.



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