Have you ever broken a promise? Have you ever had a
promise broken by another? How did you react?
Were you disappointed? African Americans are
reaching back 140 years to the "40 acres and a mule" promise as a
reminder the Beast of Slavery Terror still exists. How
many broken promises from the past do you still relive?
How can you teach a child to not be disappointed by broken promises?
January 30, 2004—Ground Zero Plus 870
Broken Promises Feed
The Beast Of Terror
GROUND ZER0, New York, N.Y.--Jan. 30, 2004 -- In Chicago and
California, the long arm of the Beast of Slavery Terror is reaching
out from the grave. It is a reminder that the past haunts
the present and casts dark shadows on the future.
The issue revolves around an
alleged promise of reparation to slaves freed by the 13th Amendment
that was ratified on December 18, 1865. This promise, confused
historically because of controversy over its origins
(see background data), claims
that each freed slave was promised "40 acres and a mule" to compensate
for being subjected to slavery.
"40 acres and
a mule" allegedly was promised to each slave freed by the
But 21st Century African Americans
haven't forgotten the promise. Spike Lee, the movie producer,
named his production company 40 Acres And A Mule.
And reparation advocates seeking to keep the flames of slavery's taint
alive in America 140 years later, continue to dig up the Beast of
Slavery Terror's body for autopsy.
In 2002, the city of Chicago, under
pressure from reparation groups,
(see article, CS Monitor) enacted
a law that any company seeking to do business with the city must
submit records to see if it had any ties with slavery.
In California, a similar requirement exists targeted to insurance
Advocates seeking reparation for the past
acts of Slavery Terrorism point to the "40 Acres and a mule" promise
that they allege was never kept. Their point:
the Terrorism still exists. They want to heal the open wound
It comes down to broken promises.
And, it begs the question: "How
many promises does a parent make to a child or to others in his or her
life that never see the day of light?"
How many promises does a child
remember that were broken by his or her parents? How many
"40 acres of land and a mule" does a child recall as he or she grows
into an adult?
director Spike Lee's production company is named "40 acres and a
Removing the issue from the ethnic
battlefield that pits blacks versus whites on issues such as slavery
reparation, what are we doing to repair broken promises in our daily
family, business and personal lives?
When a father or mother
promises a child he or she will take them somewhere, or attend a
school event, or make a compact of any order in which a "promise" is
involved, and then breaks that promise, what degree of Terrorism is
To many in the African American
community, the promise--express or implied--from 140 years ago still
foments. They want to know: "Where's my 40
acres and my mule?"
The child who rushes about
waiting for the promise by the parent to be sealed with action often
finds the promise crumbles against the wall of Complacency.
"Sorry, I can't make the game. Sorry, something's come up and we
can't go to the show. "Sorry, I'm too busy to play with
you as I promised. But, I'll make it up. Trust me.
They are brutal arrows that pierce a child's heart.
That's why parents should be
cautious when making promises. The word "promise" to
a child is a contract. It is a test of "faith"
between the child and parent, and when that "faith" is broken, the
child feels abandoned.
It is the same for adults.
When a close friend promises you he or she will not say anything about
something you tell them in confidence, and then reneges and violates
the confidence, one feels betrayed. Anger and
resentment boil. Sometimes friendships crumble over such
In business, breaking promises
is just as harsh. One's expectations rise inversely
over the promise, and often plans are made without contingency.
When the promise (contract) is broken, the fall is severe.
"I promise you are best qualified for the new job. You will be
promoted." Then, you go out and celebrate. But in
the 11th hour, a shift is made. You are skirted.
Another get the job "promised" to you. You hang your head.
You feel violated.
How many of
your promises have been empty?
How many promises to you
have been broken in your life? How many of your words have
been empty? Can you count them?
Is there enough paper to list them all?
And, how many promises
have you broken to others? It becomes harder for us
to remember all our own broken promises, but easy for those to whom we
make them to recall. The promisee rather than
promisor has the expectations of receiving something, and those
expectations soar. When they don't materialize, the fall from
the top of the Expectation Mountain is painful. Often, the
promisee falls into the Jaws of the Beast of Terror. Fear,
Intimidation and Complacency, expressed in disappointment, anger,
resentment and disillusion, are the by products.
The African Americans, at
least certain factions, haven't forgotten the "40 acres and a mule"
Neither do most of us
forget broken promises. We can trace them throughout our lives,
some of greater importance to us than others, but they cling to us
like the Claws of the Beast of Terror. They rake at us and
often remind us "not to trust" anyone, or to "not trust some."
So how do we, as
Parents, Grandparents, Citizens and Loved Ones of Vigilance deal with
resolving the dangers of the "broken promise."
The quick answer is to
not promise anyone anything.
word "promise" from your vocabulary
Expunge the word "promise" from your
There are many reasons
for this. First, one cannot be sure of the future.
No matter how good one's intentions might be at the moment, people and
life are unpredictable. We all have defects of
character, and we all may be subject to the forces of time and
A father or mother
who makes a promise to a child may, at the time, be so committed to
the promise they believe nothing could possibly stand between its
completion. But then something comes up.
A crisis at work overrides the time dedicated to the promise.
If you leave early you risk being fired. You face a
dilemma. Leave work and risk the security of the paycheck
that buys the food, pays the rent, clothes the children, or, make good
the promise that you will take your child to the park, or show, or
make the basketball game?
what the excuse, you lose. The promise
suggests finality. The promise is carved in granite, at
least, to the promisee.
employ the strategy of "I'll try my best"
There is another strategy.
Instead of promising, say: "I'll try my best." Trying is
different from promising. "To try" means one is
going to make every possible attempt to achieve an objective, but
allows for time and circumstance to exist within the attempt.
create concrete expectations, which, if aren't met, results in Broken
another danger of the promise. That is, when it is used as a
Band-Aide. Many people flip promises off their tongue to
assuage rather than confirm goals. After a while,
the word "promise" becomes moot. Those who hear it
almost automatically deny it, for it translates: "don't expect
are the greatest abusers of promises. Listening to
them shoveling promises out of their mouths is a great exercise, for
the degree of their promises are timed and tempered by the audience
they seek to appease. Promises flowing from their
lips to senior citizens vary widely from those who state to MTV
audiences. At the end of the campaign trail, the
road they traveled is littered with promises, most of which cannot be
kept. They say what they need to say to get the
One of the
most notable broken promises was made by President George H.W.
One of the most notable was
President's George Bush's father's campaign promise: "Watch my
lips. I will not raise taxes," and then, once elected, raised
The goal of a
Sentinel of Vigilance, a Parent of Vigilance, is to not violate the
"Trust Bridge" spanning the credibility of the parent to the child,
the citizen to the citizen, the family member to the family member.
exists between people, it offers refuge for the Beast of Terror.
The "promise gap" can ferment the Beast's ability to induce Fear
rather than build Courage, can germinate Intimidation rather than
strengthen Conviction, and can result in a thousand forms of
Complacency rather than accelerating Right Actions that benefit future
avoiding to "promise" another is more Vigilant than taking the risk of
breaking such a promise.
This is not
to suggest we duck the responsibility to make good on our commitments.
To tell someone: "I will try my best" is far more powerful than
a promise. It suggests I will take "action."
It means I have programmed myself to prepare for and to move toward
the completion of the event.
A "promise," by its
nature, suggests it is a fait complete, that is a "done deal," that it
is indeed a "fact" that only needs authentication.
This is never true.
The most iron-clad
contract between two parties, written by the most powerful attorneys,
can be broken. Events can collide. Circumstances can
arise that fractures the most powerful compact.
To employ a
"promise" with a child is to invite the Terrorism of 40 acres and
To employ a
"promise" with a child, or as part one's vocabulary, is to invite the
Terrorism of 40 acres and a mule. Those who believe,
rightly or wrongly, that the promise was never sealed, will resurrect
the Beast of Promise Terror each and every time. They will
see only broken trust, deceit, disillusionment--fodder the Beast of
Terror uses to make his nesting place even more comfortable.
Parents and Sentinels of Vigilance, we need to be Vigilant about
making promises to others, especially to our children.
honest way we can achieve the making and keeping of a promise is to
use the words "I will try my best..."
It has been
said that the "attempt is the victory." If one honestly
and earnestly engages his or her engines to "do their best," and they
fail for whatever reason, they have not violated the conditions of a
promise. It also means they have the ability to "try
again," and "again," if necessary, until they get it "right."
this, the child learns that promises are not as important as the
attempts. The child learns that a promise can result in
violation of a trust, and that it should only be used in the most
extreme conditions, for the most important of issues, and even then,
about realizing the Beast of Terror tries to fracture the confidence
one has in himself or herself, and how one is viewed by others.
Of all the things people do to one another, the promise excites the
Beast the most, for he knows that odds of the promise being met in the
eyes of the promisee are slim to one. Often, one who makes a
promise and thinks he or she keeps it finds the promisee thinks that
the promise delivered was not the one bargained for.
In many cases, the promisee believes he or she has been violated
because the expectations for keeping it weren't met in reality--at
least the promisee's reality.
Reparation seeker in Texas rally
Those who argue, for example, against the
pressure groups seeking reparations for African American slavery point
to all the programs the government has continually installed to
subsidize and support Black America. No matter how many
millions upon millions of dollars have been funded, the group
continues to ask: "Where is my 40 acres and my mule?
The same is true of a
child. No matter how many new promises or new compacts are made
in an attempt to heal a past broken promise--say the new bike that
never appeared on Christmas, or the cancelled trip to Disneyland--the
child continues to ask: "Where is my 40 acres and mule?"
Adults, regardless of
race, creed or color, ask the same question of their broken promises:
"Where is my 40 acres and mule?"
Don't feed the Beast of
Terror with promises that can be broken. Take the Pledge of
Vigilance and "try your best" to subscribe to the Principles of
Vigilance. That way, you won't leave a trail of "40
acres and mules" behind you, and, you won't feather the Beast of