Just days before his passing, I had lunch with Joseph Flynn Mesa, who, to me, was more like an older brother than a close friend. Joe was also a confidante, a sounding board, and a wise and trusted political advisor. I met Joe through my father in the political circuit and over the years, we developed a bond built on being brutally honest, supportive in our endeavors, and watching out for each other. Our conversations were never sugar-coated and there was always the understanding that if we disagreed on an issue, we found common ground to be supportive of what we want to do.
While we ate, Joe and I caught up with the current events in our lives and also talked about what the future had in store. The conversation was as routine as it has ever been with no big surprises or revelations, however, when it came to the discussion of my biweekly “Building Your Legacy” articles, Joe asked, “So when are you going to write about what people really need to read?”
I wasn’t taken aback by his question, and knowing Joe, was kind of anticipating when he was going to bring it up. You see, Joe was more of a direct person than I am. One day when an individual approached us to ask for our support in his campaign, I asked the individual about what prompted him to seek election while Joe simply asked, “Why should I vote for you?”
Like in the discourses that he and I had frequently, Joe was never comfortable with beating around the bush or having an idle conversation. I’ve heard him calmly say on many occasions with others to get to the point and ask what you need. There was never a condescending or hurtful intent whenever he talked with you or asked direct questions. Joe just expected that you were confident in what you were saying or asking, and you were committed to accomplishing what you say you were going to do.
“I see that every one of your articles focus on responsibility, opportunity, confidence, and other characteristics necessary to achieve success and live better lives. They’re great (columns) on personal development, but you need to emphasize that no improvement or success can be gained if no action is taken to do so.” And Joe’s right.
Prior to the launch of my “Build Your Legacy” program, I sat with Joe to run the concept and vision by him. I told him that I believed an important component to dealing with our social concerns was to address our community’s eroding sense of character, responsibility, pride, and commitment. Our drug use problem, the violence, the thefts, and even our rising poverty levels can be mitigated by helping individuals address and improve their self-images. The more individuals we can help make better, the less our community would have to experience and deal with the destructive and demoralizing social concerns. Joe liked the idea, and if memory serves me correctly, he said, “it can work if there’s community buy-in and a true desire to improve.”
Right before Joe and I concluded what would be the last time I would bread with him, I asked him if he still believed that what I was working on would make an impact. His response was, “It really doesn’t matter if people draw their advice from you or another personal development program, what matters and when it matters is when they take what they’ve learned and actually apply it to make themselves better.”
You said it Joe, now rest in peace my brother.