Contact theSOPAbout theSOPSupport theSOPWritersEditorsManaging Editors
theSOP logo
Published:October 8th, 2005 18:26 EST
Marcus Parker's Pride Rock

Marcus Parker's Pride Rock

By S Renee Greene

Marcus A Parker, born in Port Arthur, Texas, in 1974, understands why there is more to life than money and materialism. Keeping the faith in God gets top billing in his life nowadays. Parker, born to an Albino mother and Afrimerican father, has seen his share of tales of woe in life. That would be something very typical if it were not for the fact that he found that something within " that will cause a man to rise above his circumstances. It is that same something within that allowed Rev Dr Martin Luther King Jr to say and live the following: An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity. " As a philosophical question among humanity, there remains no answer to the question: What is the measure of a man? What will cause one man in dire circumstances in life to rise above his situation and conquer it, and another to be crushed under its weight? Moreover, what will cause a man in the best circumstances to give in to the adversities of life and a man in horrific circumstances to circumvent his own destiny as pre-ordained from birth and contribute more to society than his silver-spoon-in-mouth counterpart?

No one has been able to answer these deeper questions with anything other than, It`s what`s inside of a man that makes him what he is. " A study of the dissection of the human brain has not yielded any clues, just a lot of guesses " guesses upon which racism in America, amongst other types of "-isms` was justified in American society for a few hundred years before someone finally said, "This is a bunch of crapola`. This thought gives way to talk that has been circulating around the Christian community for hundreds of years " destiny versus choice. How much of what is given to us in life by chance can be controlled?

Marcus Parker`s book The Product attempts to answer this question and more. It has been hailed as The African-American version of The Purpose-Driven Life. " The book is written in such a way that its essence and flavor rises above the man who wrote it. It is written in a simplistic and spiritually nourishing manner that is not hard to read nor understand by anyone of any age or background. Mr. Parker admits he is not a writer, per se, but judging by what he has written in the book, he qualifies, because a writer is anyone who has something to say " and The Product has a lot to say, specifically about rising above your circumstances, whatever they are, and going at life full speed ahead.

According to Parker, Life is not about money. We`ve got to work hard to get it, but we`ve also got to learn to get past it. To excel in life is not the gift; the gift is to keep the faith in God. That`s what I`m about, that`s what The Product is about " it transcends even me. " 

With grim statistics about young black men " leading the way into his written world, Parker mentioned to us that everyone has a set of values, a core value system that is the biggest deciding factor in how they choose and what they choose and why. When asked what was his belief about the difference between just believing faith and living faith, Parker says, I believe application is key. The doing of faith rather than wearing it on your shirtsleeve to show everyone how faithful you are. " And it is this applicable living faith that presses him on to share the talent that the Lord has given him. Parker is a strong believer in not burying God`s talents, and mentioned that at one time he would give people money because he "had it like that`.

The story is this: He worked his way out of poverty into quite a large salary working with Applied Materials out of Austin, Texas. During this time, he also delved into some real estate foreclosure investments that were bringing in some additional income on the side. The money began to spend him, rather than him spending the money. He said he would often give people money just to get them out of his face. He says he didn`t want to hear the sob stories, he just wanted to give them what they wanted so they would go away. When the company sent their core business offshore and Marcus was laid off, he had accumulated a nest egg and remembers throwing money all over the place ". He said he would buy things for his two children, Marcus Jr and Sydney, just because they asked. He now realizes the financial mistakes that were made and learned through the trials to be a good steward of the talents God has given, because he knows all too well that what one has today can be taken away in an instant.

As Job did so many centuries ago, Parker had an epiphany: "The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away " blessed be the name of the Lord. "

He is now in the business of spreading the good news to the Afrimerican community, particularly to the young black men " the stronghold of our lives " the importance of keeping their perspective when it comes to money, and keeping their minds and hearts stayed on God in the midst of good times, as well as bad. Parker absolutely agrees that the pruning times, no matter how painful for us, is the best times of our lives. God is trying to teach us something, and we would do well to listen up. "

Parker found the deeper meaning of life in the symbols of The Lion King at the age of 17. He talks about how Simba could have just kicked it " with his boys, eating worms and grubs all day; but he had a calling on his life that could not be ignored and he had to answer it. The calling, even though Simba was born with a destiny to be king, was the general meaning of the word r-e-s-p-o-n-s-i-b-i-l-i-t-y. He had a responsibility to Pride Rock, one that he would have preferred to ignore; but in the end, he knew what he had to do and he finally went home to face off with his biggest enemy, his own Uncle Scar. He not only had to make a quality decision to return home, he had to face down strong opposition when he got there. Says Parker, You know you are on the right path when you make a quality decision and all hell breaks loose. " The enemy doesn`t mess with people who are doing what he wants them to do. In the end, says Parker, the words of his former staff sergeant (SSgt Jefferson) at Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas, still ring true: Press on. "

Those two words, along with his mother`s love and nurturing, his father`s determination and steadfastness, the enduring love and support of his wife, Rolanda, whom he also salutes in the book; as well as all of the people who entered into and exited out of his life " the good, the bad, and the ugly " made him into what he is. He says, We do have something to learn from everyone " even the bad folks who cross us. " In spite of everything, Marcus A Parker is absolutely a product of his environment, and he says, it was the best thing that could have happened to him.

He states that we, as a people, have been so through so many generational gaps and forced weaknesses in our history as American citizens that too many of us have experienced a major breakdown in our ability to grasp the finer principles of life and use them positively " to build rather than to destroy. That choice ultimately comes down to our own growth and experience [personal value system] in life - choosing to physically overcome adversity and spiritually supersede materialism regardless of what cards we have been dealt across the table. Even in the movie Back to the Future, " there was powerful symbolism behind using garbage to fuel a car that was going to take the characters where they wanted to go. Pain, Parker quotes from another source, is the fuel that drives progress. There are only two ways not to have the best God has to offer us -- Quit or die. Equal but opposite of the evil that we endure in life is the good: Black people often have the ability to survive the worst of circumstances. We call it "throwing a party without electricity". We still often manage to come up with a way to cook that food and dance our way around the room without stepping on too many toes. Parker, admittedly at one time very afraid to die, now says that if the Lord were to call him home this night, he is perfectly at peace with himself and his life - he knows he has done what the Lord called him to do.

Matthew 7:17 - A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit.

Matthew 7:18 - A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot produce good fruit.

Matthew 7:19 - Every tree that produces bad fruit will be chopped down and burned.

Matthew 12:33 - A good tree produces only good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. You can tell what a tree is like by the fruit it produces.

A recommended read: The Product. It just may answer the question, What is the measure of a man? "

About the Author: Marcus A Parker was born in Port Arthur (his Pride Rock "), Texas, in 1974. He grew up during the rise of the crack cocaine epidemic and witnessed many people fall victim to the disease. Surrounded by negativity, he became financially independent despite his circumstances, and by the age of 27, had accrued a small fortune that impressed many a person in the small town of Austin, Tx. He soon discovered that having it all " wasn`t enough. That money wasn`t the end-all and be-all to living a good life. He walked away from a six-figure income to revisit his past and to find the root of his drive and motivation.

The Product highlights the events, the let-downs, and the victories that he faced on this journey that brought him to the vision that he shares with us today. His dream is to encourage others by sharing his story and the values that propelled him along the way. Parker gives credit for his many successes to his family, a strong community, and most of all, his faith in the love of a steadfast and merciful God.