Life was a constant battle

This is one in a series of daily excerpts from “The Legend of Morris Cerullo: How God Used an Orphan to Change the World.”

By Morris Cerullo

By the time he was ten, Morris Cerullo was a sad victim of life. Still short of stature, he possessed an oversized chip on his shoulder and challenged any and all forms of authority whenever opportunities arose. His palpable bitterness toward adults and institutions was unlimited and escalating.

Other young people who were on the same life trajectory gravitated toward Morris. He was accepted by other juvenile delinquents, having earned a reputation among the other hoodlums in the area as a tough kid.

He made no attempt to hide his disdain for authority. He defiantly drank alcohol, smoked cigarettes, stole merchandise from local shops, and cursed up a storm. Rare was the day when he was not involved in some type of physical scuffle. Fistfights were necessary to establish his place in the pecking order and to instill fear in the hearts of those who potentially stood in his way.

If there was one thing the young orphan had figured out, it was that life was a constant battle, and you had to be tough or be a victim. Although he had no plan for his future, he was determined that nobody was going to control him. He had memory after memory of authority figures whose decisions failed to advance his own best interests. If he was going to succeed, he’d have to orchestrate fruitful outcomes his way, in his timing.

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As Morris bounced from one orphanage or foster home to another, he continued to fight the system. He ran away from his appointed housing, time after time, and cut classes in order to engage in illegal or immoral activities. Occasionally he was picked up by the police and threatened with fines and jail time. As he got older his defiance led to more serious consequences, including appearances in court. At each of his court hearings, however, the judges reviewed his life history and had mercy on him, hoping that he could be straightened out before the only alternative was prison time — and a life almost certainly defined by more crime and increasingly serious punishments.

Morris was naturally intelligent but congenitally disinterested in schoolwork. He never considered academia his road to riches and freedom. His classmates, aware that he was an orphan, didn’t seem to mind. In northern New Jersey in the 1940s you made your reputation based on your skills and behavior, not your address. Morris gained a reputation for being a rebellious, hostile, tough guy. He trusted nobody: teachers, administrators, coaches, ministers, police, peers. In his mind, it was every man for himself.