“The bubble-headed bleach blonde comes on at 5; she’ll tell you about the plane crash with a gleam in her eyes.” If you’re like many Americans, you spend a portion of your time keeping yourself informed on current events – and if you’re like me, after you have been “informed” you oftentimes wish you hadn’t been. Every day it seems the normal course of news is solely devoted to the latest massacre, drought, massive layoff, environmental threat, nuclear threat, rebel uprising or political fisticuffs. Being “informed” regarding the world around you is enough to make the average person peek outside in anticipation of a falling sky prior to heading to work each day. At times it can be downright demoralizing.
What is the origin of the depressingly consistent angle with which the large majority of our news outlets consistently feed us overwhelmingly negative information? Have studies been conducted discovering that Americans crave these types of “doomsday” stories, therefore that’s what our beloved media provide? Or do we lap it up because that’s basically all that is offered to satisfy our need to be kept abreast of current events? Is it the chicken or the egg?
In past months, I have been the fortunate recipient of a new friendship with a man by the name of Rocky King. Rocky has one of the greatest stories I've ever been told, signifying to me that the American dream is still alive and well, coupled with a needed reminder that there are still many Americans out there whose daily lives have not strayed from a basic founding principle of this great nation: Love thy neighbor.Whatever the root cause may be, the morale of this country is greatly diminished by the constant negativity that floods our airwaves and publications on an hourly basis. Heck, I’m even guilty of it on a moderately regular basis. Interview after interview I will consistently bemoan an array of issues yet will rarely offer any solutions. Maybe I just want to feel like part of the crowd of pessimistic media. Not today, however. Today I want to focus on something positive. Something that may possibly lift morale a bit and hopefully encourage.
I have known Rocky for nearly a year, but had never really inquired as to how he arrived at his place in life. Intently listening to a gravelly voice a few weeks ago over lunch, I received a fast education regarding resilience, perseverance and love for one’s fellow man. Rocky, who is now in his early 50s, told me the story of a 22-year-old kid who moved to Atlanta in the late ’80s wanting to wrestle for the WCW and Ted Turner. He arrived in town from Columbia, S.C., and found himself a place to “live” down near the training facility for the other wrestlers – and by “live” I mean Rocky was homeless. For over two years Rocky slept in alleys, under bridges and ate out of garbage cans diligently pursuing his dream and basically the only avenue that would ever give him a warm bed to sleep in and a hot meal to eat.
As time slowly passed, Rocky began to inch his way up the ladder toward the realization of his dream. Grasping this goal, however, wouldn’t pay the type of dividends you or I might be seeking in our own pursuit of accomplishment. Achievement for Rocky King would mean no more freezing nights, no more lonely alleys and no more leaky overpasses – and once again he could have his food served to him instead of uncovered beneath a pile of rubbish. There was much more at stake for Rocky King regarding the success he sought.
Fast forward two decades. How has Rocky’s story played out and how does he epitomize the American dream as well as an inherent principle of Judeo Christian ethics? It can in part be reflected in the wealth of material belongings he now possesses. It can also be seen by observing the businesses he now owns. To stop there would be a great story in and of itself, but Rocky King is a much better man than that. For the last decade, Rocky has spent the majority of his time aligning himself and headlining events all over the state to feed, shelter and clothe the homeless. From groups like the Veterans Empowerment Organization to Hugs Ministry and Atlanta Missions, Rocky King has gone from being homeless to spearheading its hopeful eradication within the state.
During the description of his life’s journey, Rocky told me, “You know, buddy, everybody thinks about the homeless around Thanksgiving and Christmas, but we’re hungry 52 weeks out of the year.” Rocky King on a weekly basis devotes himself to the homeless in Atlanta, Ga., and around the state. The fame and money from professional wrestling along with the rest of his businesses have not stopped Rocky from remembering exactly where he came from and doing all he can to love his fellow man, especially those who so closely resemble the way he once was.
So as your week begins and once again you are reminded how horrible our world is, along with the people who make it up, just remember there are a lot of “Rocky Kings” out there who are making our planet a better place. Do your best to be one of those people. Be kind to a stranger and help raise the morale of America as we all fight against the bombardment of negativity, but most of all remember that things aren’t really that bad. There is actually a lot of good in the world.