Part 1 at: Mahler's Aggressive Strength Kettlebell Training
Now that I have covered five reasons why people fail to evolve, let us go through two case studies of people that had the courage to evolve, and one that is the master of evolving and staying relevant.
A man that had the courage to change when old dogmas were proven erroneous was the civil rights activist Malcolm X. I studied the life of Malcolm X a great deal when I was in college majoring in religious studies. I was going through some major transformations myself and I found his story fascinating to say the least as he made several serious transformations through out his all too brief life. Recently, I was reminded of Malcolm's powerful evolutions after reading Jesse Ventura's American Conspiracies.
As a young man Malcolm X was a criminal that hated being black and wanted desperately to be white. He straightened his hair, only dated white women, and wanted to be wealthy and powerful. His criminal life eventually landed him in prison where he was exposed to the teachings of Elijah Muhammad and the religious cult The Nation of Islam (NOI).
The NOI teachings infused with Black pride and Black Nationalism has a profound effect on Malcolm and he surrendered his criminal lifestyle and became a devotee. Malcolm was able to quit drugs, alcohol, smoking, and his criminal ways by changing the focus. His new focus was the NOI and empowering his people through its teachings. Malcolm's new focus, natural charisma, and hard work ethic allowed him to grow rapidly in the NOI ranks. Eventually he became the right hand man of Elijah Muhammad.
For several years Malcolm espoused the NOI dogma aggressively. He blamed white people for all of the ills and suffering of African-Americans and pushed for a separate state. Over time Malcolm eventually realized that the NOI had strong elements of corruption that stemmed all the way from the top. He tried to rationalize the corruption he came across but eventually he had to look into it further.
Not longer thereafter, Malcolm was kicked out of the NOI for making some disparaging remarks about the assassination of President John F Kennedy. Some believe this was just a convenient way to get Malcolm out of the organization before he learned too much. After all he was a highly influential leader and could cause problems for the corrupt members of the organization.
Once out of the NOI, Malcolm spent volumes of time studying traditional Islam and was startled with the incredible discrepancies. For example, unlike the NOI, traditional Islam does not teach that an evil scientist named Yacub made white people. Traditional Islam does not state that any one race is superior to another.
The serious discrepancies between the Nation of Islam and traditional Islam became even more apparent to Malcolm after he made a pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia. In Mecca, Malcolm met Muslims of all nationalities and races. He had many human rights discussions with Muslims from all over the world and came to the conclusion that no one corners the market on human suffering. It is a global problem that needs to be addressed globally.
Malcolm again had the courage to evolve when the truth slapped him in the face. He could no longer bury his head in the sand and instead went on to embrace traditional Islam and denounce the teachings of Elijah Muhammad and the Nation of Islam. Even when death threats were made against Malcolm and his family he stayed the course.
In the book American Conspiracies, Jesse Ventura states that Malcolm had a meeting with Martin Luther King Jr. and that they were planning on collaborating to push civil rights further in the U.S. Tragically both were eventually assassinated before they were able to bring this vision to fruition.
It would have been interesting to see how Malcolm continued to evolve as he got older. While we will never know, there is something we can learn from Malcolm on having the courage to evolve. Just because Malcolm was a criminal as a young man didn't mean that he had to be a criminal for the rest of his life. Just because he was seduced by anger and racism at one time in his life did not mean he had to be a racist for the rest of his life.
He had the courage to evolve as he went through the craziness of the human condition. Many people remember Malcolm for his anger against white people and assume that was all he was about. Imagine for a second that you are judged for the person you were twenty years ago or when you were a teenager. Would you say that is a fair assessment of who you are now? I think it is safe to say that we have all done things in our lives that we're not proud of. While we cannot go back in time and make changes we can choose to evolve now and become something better.