So Rev. Craig Schaub and I prayed and then we, along with my psychologist, Dr. Paul Cohen, went up to see the hospital’s medical director, whose name is not worthy of repeating. His job was to catch the flak, as explained to us by author Tom Wolfe in a phrase called “mau-mauing the flak catchers.”
Prior to the 1960’s, “colored” people knew their place, which was to try to emulate white people. Then came the civil rights movement and some black men gave up wearing white shirts and straightening their hair. Instead, they grew Afro hairdos and put on dashiki’s—African shirts—and they went in to face down corporate executives, who showed up wearing white shirts with pocketsful of pens, to demand information and jobs. The white guy was there to catch the flak for the corporation that had been discriminating in hiring.
“Mau-mauing the flak catchers” is a phrase that always has stuck with me. What it means, basically, is getting real with the unreal—and I’m so real that it makes the flak catchers cringe. The flak catchers—all those guys who have risen to some executive level in the Department of Running Things—have done so by playing the game, and the game requires that you never, not ever, call a spade a spade. Do not name the real issues. When speaking, couch hard truths in soft words.
You do this long enough and you come to believe that there are no hard truths; there are only soft truths, and everything’s really okay. Then I come along and tell the flak catcher, “Your doctor-employee nearly killed me!” And suddenly it’s not about a committee’s academic review of the correct interpretation of an ambiguous word: it is about Annie, who didn’t die, looking you in the eye and saying, “You fucked up.”
So the Reverend Schaub and the Doctor Cohen sat beside me and listened while I mau-maued the medical director. The apparent outcome was what was to be expected: three weeks later, the medical director sent me a report that justified everything he had done. But there was an unexpected outcome: it made me strong.
Nietzsche wrote, “What doesn’t kill you makes you strong,” to which one woman responded, “I now should be able to bench-press a Buick.” I was a weakling and I went one-on-one with the medical director. My friends the pastor and the therapist walked with me, but I did the talking—and I lived to tell about it. That was a pivotal moment in creating a strong woman. I had been taught to sit down, shut up, and take what was dealt to me, and then I learned to speak up to the power guys.
It was awesome! Ladies and gentlemen, if you want a really, really wonderful feeling, go face down some powerful person. Remember what your grandma used to say? The power-guy puts his pants on one leg at a time, too. God alone knows what games the power-guy has played to get where he is but he’s no different from you. If your brother talks trash to you, you’d speak up to him wouldn’t you?
All men are your brothers; speak up. I mean, what’s the down-side? What’s the worst thing that can happen to you if you speak your truth? For most people, the answer is “I could get fired.” And therein lays the big difference between you and me: I can’t get fired. My income is Social Security and that guarantees my right to speak freely. We are all varying degrees of chicken-shit when it comes to losing our jobs; we vote our paychecks, but in most cases standing up for what is right doesn’t really risk loss of income.
And me? I’m blessed: no matter how much I piss you off, you can’t touch my Social Security check. Can you imagine what would happen if all the people with guaranteed income started to fight back for what’s right? And what is right is decided by God, not your boss.
Galatians 1:10 For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.
Matthew 6:24 No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.
1 Corinthians 10:33 even as I try to please everyone in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.
Ephesians 6:6 Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart.
And here’s the bottom line: if you do God’s will then he will have your back. You may not get rich but all your basic needs will be met. God takes care of his own.
I do not care what is thought about me by the county executive, city mayor or some nameless, faceless hospital medical director. I care what God thinks about me. My sole reference point is God. If I can get up in the morning, stand naked before God (knowing he is giggling at the sight of me naked) and not hang my head in shame, then I’m good to go.
I work for God; no man holds power over me.