Wednesday, August 19, 2015


I have loved hip hop music, my whole life. Well, maybe not my whole life, pretty sure I wasn't shouting out "Rapper's Delight" by The Sugar Hill Gang in preschool. However, I have always been intrigued by the beat and the artists' portrayal of their life experiences delivered in a unique lyrical way. In high school and college, there was the mix tape marathons of  2Pac, Beastie Boys, Biggie Smalls, Biz Markie, Dr. Dre, Ghetto Boys, Ice Cube, L.L. Cool, J, Missy Elliot, NWA, Snoop Dogg, TLC,  just to name a few. My friends would laugh because I could recite every single word to every single song, but couldn't remember where I put my keys. I enjoy learning about that "world", their experiences, their quest for understanding what life is about to them and I'm impressed at how raw they are about it all.

Naturally, I went and saw the movie "Straight Outta Compton", which has already made $60 million (and only took $29  million to make). It's based on the rap group, N.W.A. from the late 80's which was comprised of five musicians from the most dangerous streets in the country at that time. I couldn't help but think about how wise these group of young men were when they first came into the limelight.

Wise? These "thugs", "gangstas", "police haters", pretty much the opposite of what many would consider role models. Yep. Let's be clear, I respect the law and feel everyone else should to. That's not what the focus is here. I agree, they did not go about voicing their opinions in the most gentle way. What they did do was courageously share their experiences; crude and debatable, without worrying about how others were going to judge them. I'm sure there are some embellishments to what and how things went down, but they were on a mission to uncover and reflect on some real and uncomfortable situations. It forced people to discover the truth.

Discovery of truth. How often do we take to time really discover the truth? Social media, sources via Google, continuous gossip,  endless generalizations and so on provide us with many "masked" truths, as I would call them.  These perceptions lead us to believe any information we hear or see, which somehow convinces us that we are the wise ones.

Not true.

This year's core value focus at Rockhurst University is wisdom. Have you ever googled wisdom? These are images you will see pop up and what I think about them.

Nope: Acquiring all kinds of information from digital devices
(or knowing how to use technology) does not make you wise.

Think again: Being the smartest person in the room
(or the one with the most academic degrees) does not make you wise.
Not true: Experiencing a spiritual movement or seeing a dove from Heaven
(although that would be really cool) does not make you wise.

According to Jesuit Priest,  Father Dean Brackley, one should focus on the big questions. He says,

Wisdom, not mere information, is the goal of education. 

Discovering truth requires reason, rooted in experience and practice nourished by contemplation...and imagination. 

Only such, engages the whole person which produces wisdom.

At Rockhurst U, we are trained, we reflect, we teach, and we reflect (yes, reflect and reflect and reflect) on the Ignatian Pedagogical Paradigm which seeks to produce wisdom, it flows like this:

Let's face it, our world complicates things.   It's up to us to simply search for the truth and focus on how it can help us solve important questions.  Father Brackley explains those important questions as, "... the drama around us, injustice and liberation, good and evil, grace and sin..."

Someone once told me truth can cause controversy, but controversy isn't always the truth. At first, I was like, "what?!" As I have thought about that over the years, I think it boils down to this: information comes at us and people react by instantly raising questions, making judgments and either expressing feelings of happiness or anger. It's how we react to these pieces of information that makes us wise, not smart. Take the time, if you really care, to find the truth in it all.

Everyone has a story, everyone is on a journey. Sing (or rap) your song and be thoughtful how you respond to what you see or hear. Thanks to technology, we live in a fishbowl. But, sometimes that fishbowl is is there to make you think:  a) the fish is dying because of some purposely placed contaminated water, or b)it is happily living in Utopia surrounded by perfect plastic trees and colored rocks. Which is true? It's for you to discover, which makes YOU all the wiser.

Maybe this was the song that triggered my love for hip hop?