Religions create complicated (and sometimes counterintuitive mythology) to describe it. Societies on the verge of technological advancement believed they could use a combination of science and magic to realize it. In contemporary times, Hollywood’s powerful science fiction brand spins fanciful tales about it to the tune of billions of dollars every year.
Whether we’re discussing the Holy Grail, massive wealth, immortality, or our fascination with superheroic powers/characters, it seems we repeatedly miss the point entirely. Miracles ARE possible! But this point is forever lost on those who cannot decode or make sense of the countless mythology, allegories, and tall-tales that bear the clues.
The 2011 movie “Limitless,” starring Robert De Nero and Bradley Cooper, provides fertile ground for our discussion. It explores the pitfalls and triumphs the protagonist experiences once he takes (and struggles to maintain access to) a pill.
Of course, this is no ordinary narcotic. ” NZT” enables its user to use 100% of his/her brain capacity. For example, Cooper’s character writes a best-selling novel in a couple of days, seduces the women of his choice, becomes a wealthy Wall Street mogul, learns several languages with ease, and even becomes an aspiring presidential candidate.
But even sensational Hollywood movies include negative consequences and cautionary tales in their storylines: withdrawal symptoms include paralyzing headaches, unaccounted for lapses of time, and death.
What most religious traditions, mythological systems, and science fiction tales lead us to believe is that the road to miracle-making and superhuman feats involve divinity, drugs, exposure to radiation, or biological mutation.
What we rarely learn is that a masterful and powerful energy force (obviously superior to us, despite what the atheists say) has given us the magic pill and potential to peform superhuman tasks and think at genius level. Our brain, more specifically, a disciplined and fine-tuned mind, supplemented with unwavering faith and preparation is the elixir and secret we’ve searched for throughout the ages.
The experiences of Black people in this country clearly demonstrate this. Pore through the pages of our rich history and you’ll rediscover superheroes, miracle-makers, and master magicians.
Learn about Imhotep, the world’s first physician and master architect whose writings are still used today by doctors some 5000 years later; Note how members of Ancient Ghana established Timbuktu as a world center of learning and commerce; how an enslaved woman who could not read or write successfully led her people out of bondage several times, braving darkness, wilderness and ruthless slave patrols; think about how
A former addict, house burglar and hustler emerged from 6 years of incarceration to eventually become a great libera,tion theorist and organizer known all over the world.
Consider that all of these individuals suffered deprivation and discrimination we cannot imagine. Yet they and others like them, “mutated” into real-life superheroes unrivaled by any comic book story.
Societal gatekeepers set themselves up as the arbitrators of truth, success and style. They use religion, mythology, scholarship and the media to hypnotize us into believing that only “special” “divine” or “exceptional” people are capable of brillance or achievement. We are taught that only certain people are “born” to lead, fight for justice or accomplish great things.
Yet our very history teaches us what few institutions, movies or belief systems dare to: The secret to making miracles involves determination, vision, discipline, faith, and hard work. Everyone is capable of calling upon such power and amassing such accomplishments, even amidst the concrete realities of racial, class and gender oppression.
In short, we are all potentially “LIMITLESS” if we choose to identify, develop and use our own special powers. Of course you are free to sit around and wait for the so-called “natural-born leaders” to solve your problems and advocate for you. But then that would literally be more fictitious than anything Hollywood could ever create, now wouldn’t it?
Agyei Tyehimba is an educator, activist and author from Harlem, N.Y. Agyei is a former NYC public schoolteacher, co-founder of KAPPA Middle School 215 in the Bronx, NY, and co-author of the Essence Bestselling book, Game Over: The Rise and Transformation of a Harlem Hustler, published in 2007 by Simon & Schuster. In April of 2014, he released Truth for our Youth: A Self-Empowerment Book for Teens. Agyei has appeared on C-Span, NY1 News, and most recently on the A&E documentary, “The Mayor of Harlem: Alberto ‘Alpo’ Martinez.”
Agyei earned his Bachelor’s Degree in sociology from Syracuse University, his Master’s Degree in Africana Studies from Cornell University, and his Master’s Degree in Afro-American Studies from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
If you are interested in bringing Agyei to speak or provide consultation for your organization, please contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.