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Be Free and Grow
by Dr. Andy McCabe • New Jersey

Excerpted with permission from The Gifted One, Balboa Press ©2011

"Look at the word wildflower and take it apart. Wild means untamed, original. Flower is that which grows and blossoms. City Bear, there was a time that we, as people, were much like the wildflowers. Our spirits were free and we were at one with the earth, moon, stars, sky, animals, and oceans. dancing silhouette with flowingflowers

They were our brothers and sisters. Then, some folks who wanted to control how others thought and acted, and in their minds for the greater good of all, those people started to make laws. It was not all bad, because some people violated the rights of others, and predators will always prey on the weak. Lawmakers, or at least some of them, because they were the best educated, or had the most money started to make laws that benefitted them and not all people. Laws gave them control, and with control, came greed and the desire for more power and control. They also decided who was considered worthy of fair treatment and who was not.”

Think of what happened to the Catholics in Ireland, the Jews in Europe, the American Indians and the African slaves in America, and in our own country, the poor. The people who made the laws that discriminated often committed atrocities toward their brothers and sisters under the banner of what they decided was “best” for all when, in fact, their own purposes were being served. Over three hundred treaties were signed with Native-Americans and all of them were broken.

I continued thinking about the senselessness of people being killed or imprisoned because of the color of their skin, or the god they chose to worship, when he continued.

“City Bear, for many people, their wildflower spirit is not even a memory, because they have been oppressed for so long. They have forgotten who they are and they have lost the beauty of feeling untamed and original.”

I believed I was starting to understand where he was going when he said, “The second part of the word—flower, to grow and blossom—is also a basic human right. Yet, those same folks who made the laws were also deciding who could grow and blossom. Look what they did and continue to do to the poor in our cities, as well as to countries that have something they want. Ask the American Indians, and most will say that our government continues to treat them with disdain. You probably do not remember it, but there was a time in our country’s history when a bounty was paid for Indian scalps. Certainly, the lawmakers who interacted with the Indians, then and now, do not want them to grow and blossom. Again, the origin for these scurrilous acts is usually greed and the desire for power and control.”

He was silent for what seemed like a minute as he stared out toward the mountains. I knew it would have been inappropriate to speak, so I waited.

He continued, “So, once we were all wildflowers, but the lawmakers were not the only ones to steal our wildflower heritage. They can also be parents, friends, teachers, lovers, and bosses—anyone who cannot or will not see the uniqueness that is you. They are those who tell us to bury our dreams deep and bang a drum with a stick when there is a violin or maybe an orchestra within us and countless audiences waiting to stand and cheer our performance.”

He had my attention. I wondered how many people gave up their dreams because they bought into the system. Some people like being told what to do and when to do it because they don’t want to think. They would rather have someone else think for them.

“There are those who tell you that if you do what they say, you will be rewarded, because they own the rewards and decide who gets them. Think of all the people who went to work their entire lives and were promised a pension and were cheated out of it, while many of the people who cheated them are living well, outside the reach of the law, because of legal loopholes.” It was true; he was right. An awful lot of good people were lied to, hurt, and disposed of like rotting garbage.

“City Bear, they are those whose eyes are fearful others will get a crumb from the table of life, because they believe that crumb will be one less for them, though they already have more crumbs than they will ever need.”

As I was listening and trying to take it all in, I was also trying to think of exactly who “they” were in my life, as well as trying to think of who “they” might be in the lives of others. He paused and folded his hands in front of him.

“They are those who have forgotten that they too are wildflowers who will get what they need from the Creator. They are those who have forgotten how to embrace the heat of the sun, the chill of the night, the fury of the storm, and the cleansing breath of the wind. They are those who have forgotten their purpose: to give glory to the Creator. They are those who want us, like them, to forget.”

I knew on some level that this message was directed at me with the intention of reminding me of my birthright, as well as the birthright of everyone on our tiny planet.

“This is my message, City Bear. This is the gift of the wildflowers: do not be tamed. Grow and flower to the fullest and remember who you are. Do not let anyone steal your spirit, and if they have—which I think has happened—do what is necessary to get it back.”

Dr. Andy McCabe is an associate professor at New Jersey City University. Dr. McCabe is a lifelong educator and facilitated the opening of one of the first public school programs for children with autism in New Jersey. In 2010, he received the Humanitarian Award from the Simpson-Baber Foundation for Autistic Children.