It's about our community and our spirituality!

A Message To Garcia

It was unusually hard for me to get my ass into gear this morning.  I woke up about fifteen minutes late.  Thankfully, I had enough gumption to drag myself to the gym anyway.  No point on cutting corners on the workout, especially considering I had already missed half of last week.  But when I got to the gym the workout sucked.  I did just enough to work up a sweat, and then I lollygagged the rest of the time I was there.  Dragged myself back home and started surfing the net.  I checked the news.  There was more looting in Haiti.  I made a mental note to write something about the media’s focus to paint black people in an area so devastated by the few who make the choice to loot.  I’ll get to it sometime.

I thought about contacting the office and letting my manager know that I was going to be late.  I dialed into the office and took over my workstation via remote control.  Took a glance at my schedule to see what, if anything, I’d be missing if I walked into the office late.  My first appointment of the day was a one-on-one with one of the vice presidents of information technology.  That was my boss’, boss’, boss’, boss’, boss.  That little fact hit me like a caffeinated bitch slap.  Suddenly, I found all kinds of energy as I ran to take a shower, shave, gather clothes and get dress.  I got to work with about ten minutes to spare.

The VP was standing in the hallway smiling, waiting, welcoming me into his lair.  The guy appeared to be pretty nice.  However, it’s been my experience that VPs don’t become VPs by being nice guys.  They can be cutthroat if necessary.  So I did my best to mind my Ps and Qs and was careful with our off the record conversation.  We talked about the company and what management can do to help engage employees.   Because of a couple of edicts by management, there’s a certain amount of fear from the peons who work the trenches in the company.  Some of us actually fear losing our jobs in this highly uncertain job market.  The VP assured me that the people who are working hard, who are acting like they want a job, are guaranteed to have their job.  This was a point when our conversation took a little detour.

Mr. VP told me the story of Andrew Summers Rowan in A Message To Garcia.  The story is an essay written back in 1899 by Elbert Hubbard.  The story celebrates the initiative of a soldier who is assigned and accomplishes a daunting mission to get a message to General Garcia deep in the jungles of Cuba.  When Officer Rowan received his mission to deliver his message to a General trying his best not to be found, he asked no questions, made no objections, requested no help.  But somehow, he had the initiative to complete the mission.  He got on a boat to Cuba and entered the jungle on foot.  Three weeks later he emerged on the other side with his mission accomplished.  The message wasn’t important.  What happened next wasn’t important.  What was important was Officer Rowan’s initiative to get the job done.  The story is an inspirational essay encouraging the reader to apply this attitude to his or her own life as a key to success.  Don’t ask questions, just get the job done!  It was Mr. VP’s contention that people who take such an attitude will eventually do well in life regardless of what company they work for.

Eventually we went back to our conversation.  We thanked each other for the conversation.  I couldn’t wait to get out of there.  Right after our meeting, when I got back to my cube, I had an email waiting for me from the VP.  In it was the story in its entirety.  I took a moment to read the story, thanked the VP for the read, and then I had an epiphany about people like Officer Rowan and the black community.

Too often, when black people hear the message that we need to come together for the sake of the black community’s future, the first thing a lot of black people want to ask is, What’s the plan?  Instead of internalizing the mission and showing some initiative to get the job done to the best of our ability, too many of us have to see and approve a master plan, blueprints to the machine to our salvation, a treasure map to that big X in the sand that marks the spot, and a PowerPoint presentation that has all the bullets and sub-bullets leading to black community reform.  And if you don’t come correct with all of your Ts crossed, Is dotted, Os closed, and Xs slashed, don’t come at all.  Don’t have a complete package and you’re nothing but another mouthpiece with nothing but a lot of words and not enough action.

Just imagine what would happen if somebody like Officer Rowan got the message that the black community needed help and cared enough to give that help.  They would ask no question.  They would just turnaround to demonstrate their initiative to get the job done.  Maybe it won’t be enough to get the entire job totally done.  After all, one has to remember that the black community didn’t get into its current mess by the efforts of a single man over a fortnight.  It will take generations of efforts by lots of people who, like Officer Rowan, will internalize the mission and take the initiative to do what they can on the black community’s behalf.  Such people by themselves can be a force to be reckoned with.  As a pool, they can be a phenomenon.  But as a force for the welfare of the black community, such people are just found in stories about the past.

Monday, January 18, 2010 - Posted by | African Americans, Black Community, Black Culture, Black People, Life, Racism, Thoughts


  1. Read the message. Very interesting. Weird how it applies as much today as it did then. Quite the rarest of individuals indeed. We can only hope for more called for the right missions in life.

    Comment by Mike Lovell | Tuesday, January 19, 2010 | Reply

    • Thanks for the feedback Mike Lovell,

      A BIG AMEN to that!


      Comment by brotherpeacemaker | Tuesday, January 19, 2010 | Reply

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