I was honored recently by being asked to give a talk at an university event called CREEDx.
I was also given this really rad copy of the creed!
Here’s my fully written speech.
“I will discourage bigotry, while striving to learn from differences in people, ideas, and opinions.”
I was honestly confused why I was given this aspect of the Carolina Creed, because I’m a straight, white, American, man. Historically my type is the one who causes the most heinous acts of bigotry. However, I realized that I do not fit this mold. I have been called nontraditional, which I find confusing as I was raised in a traditional biker / snake handler family.
Through my unique upbringing I was taught many great ideals: work hard, be gracious, be respectful, and always have an open mind. Growing up I saw how people treated my family. They considered us to no good outlaws. While we were outlaws we definitely weren’t bad people. My parents worked their butts to the bone to make sure me and my brother never went wanting. They treated us far better than we deserved, so these ideals stuck.
I remember one day I came home after Sunday school when I was little boombox guy, and I was sad I had been picked on by some of the other kids. My mom sat me down told me, “Don’t worry about what those kids said about you. They and their families may be good Christians but they aren’t good people”. This always stuck with me. From then on, I stopped worrying about what other people thought about me and started doing what I wanted to do. What I felt was right.
These ideals definitely led into me eventually becoming the boombox guy, and stuck with me through all the years. I’m not going into detail of how that started, you can read that from several different sources, but I will say this. By being boombox guy it definitely showed how polarized people can be. Some people loved me, and some people hated me. I had my butt handed to me a couple of times by the people who didn’t like me and even was arrested. However, it didn’t deter what I was doing. I was making people laugh, and forget about their troubles. It felt good to work in service for people.
The joy of helping people led to me taking my passion which was making video games, combining it together, and then that turned into my profession. I was making games that helped people. Making games that taught people how to speak other languages, making game like systems for researchers to find new discoveries in our genome, and games that helped people relearn how to talk after a stroke.
People had become my passion. Throughout this journey I have met with people from all walks of life, and I have many stories to tell. From walking around Columbia, going to social events, travelling around the world, and especially going to as many parties as possible, I have met all sorts of people. I can tell you everyone has a story to tell, and more I hear the more that I grow. For instance, some people who were regarded as the smartest I overheard say some of the most ignorant statements, and people who had nearly no education whatsoever saying the most profound.
Way back when I was a sophomore I was going through a truly difficult time in my life. My mother had contracted a flesh eating bacteria, and no one was sure if she was going to pull through. Now she had told me that she wanted me to stay at USC, do my work, and not to worry about her. My head was telling me to listen to her, but my heart was telling me I should go. She’s my mom. As I was walking back to my dorm, I ran into one of my friends, Otis. He was a janitor here at USC and was one of the coolest people I’ve ever met, so I asked him, “If you heart is telling you one thing but your head is telling you another then what do you do?” He responded, “Listen to your heart, but use your head”. With that in mind I figured out a way to finish my work and visit my mom. Luckily she pulled through, and she’s still going strong today. However, it was the advice of someone who most would never even consider talking to, because they consider him to be beneath them, ended up being the most profound. It doesn’t matter who a good idea comes from. What matters is it’s a good idea.
By working hard, being gracious, being respectful, and especially always keeping an open mind, I have met so many wonderful people, who have helped me grow. Not in height but in spirit. The more people I talk to, the more understanding I gain, empathy I acquire, and love I can share. Go out and meet people, because you never know what you can learn from them. That’s important to truly being a gamecock