Would you believe me if I told you that recognition is more important than love?

In a 60 minutes interview, Lesley Stahl reported on a new show called “Alive55 + and Kickin” in Harlem. Inspired by Vi Higginsen – Mama Foundation for the Arts, Vi’s vision was to bring real people, not trained actors, over the age of 55 to the stage to tell their stories through song.

During the interview, Leslie Stahl spoke with each of the performers to hear the background of the song they chose to represent their story. Matthew Burke’s story struck through my heart like an iron arrow lit on fire.

Here is an excerpt of his interview with Lesley Stahl.

Matthew Burke spent most of his singing career in jail. He sold drugs, and committed violent armed robbery — but what he wanted to talk about in the show was what he had recently discovered in a case file about the first weeks of his life.

Lesley Stahl: It says that you were abandoned at two and a half weeks in a hallway.

Matthew Burke: Yes.

Lesley Stahl: Mother unknown. Father unknown.

The first thing most of us get from our parents is a name. He was simply — “abandoned #2360.”

Lesley Stahl: You are a number.

Matthew Burke: And you wanna know something? I became 81A3684. I became 00A6432. That’s been my life, a number.

Lesley Stahl: You’re smiling. But you don’t mean it.

Matthew Burke: Right. And that’s the defense mechanism.

Lesley Stahl: ‘Cause it’s horrible.

He was named Matthew Burke by a priest in the first of many foster homes. When he sings the song “Georgia,” he told us he’s trying to give a name to what he lost.

Matthew Burke: If I had to give my mother a name. And I could give her a name. I can. It would be Georgia.

Lesley Stahl: I know a psychiatrist who says the most important question she asks somebody is, “When you were growing up, who loved you?” Do you have an answer?

Matthew Burke: That’s very difficult to answer– who loved me– because there’s different types of love.

Lesley Stahl: Uncondition. I mean–

Matthew Burke: Yeah, unconditional–

Lesley Stahl: That’s what I mean.

Matthew Burke: I’ve never– I’ve never experienced that.

Lesley Stahl: So you– you have no answer for that question.

Matthew Burke: I have no answer. To this day I have no answer to that (CBSNews, 2015).

Would you believe me if I told you that recognition is more important than love?

Every human being is born with the desire to be known and to be seen. Or as my friend, Denise would say, “to have a witness to their life”.  For Matthew, it was the desire to be recognized by his mother. To be given a name.

Our behaviors are driven by our need for recognition.

Matthew expressed his anger and rejection through crime and violence while trying to mask his pain through drugs and alcohol.

What about you?


I tried anything to get that guy who was no good for me

I am a perfectionist

I am a people pleaser

I have been passive aggressive when others got the stage that I wanted

I have gossiped and have been critical about others to make myself feel better about my imperfections

I have compare my “likes” to her “likes”

I have been easily offended

I have run from responsible

I have hit my hurts in food, shopping, and even drugs and alcohol when I was desperate to fit in

I have quit before I saw the finish line because there was no cheering squad on the sidelines when going got tough.

Do you see yourself in any of these behaviors?




For Matthew Burke, like all people, love is expressed through recognition.

Unfortunately, people will disappoint you. They are human and will make mistakes. There may be someone whom you seek recognition from all your life and never receive it.

But the good new is, there is one person who will never disappoint you. He’s known you before the formation of the earth, before the day you were born. He sees you, He knows you,  and He calls you a masterpiece – chosen and favored.

Do you know Him?


To read a full transcript of Lesley Stahl’s 60 Minute’s Interview visit: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/alive-and-kickin/

3 Comments on “Would you believe me if I told you that recognition is more important than love?”

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