Assad, the very very bad boy
It is not easy to have a bad kid. The kind of kid who does bad things. Very bad things.
The kind of kid who tapes firecrackers to frogs. Drops kittens in scalding water. Pulls the wings off insects.
The kind of kid you leave alone to do his worst, so long as nobody knows. So long as he doesn’t cause any embarrassment.
The kind of kid like Bashar al Assad. A boy who can’t really grow a moustache. Who drops barrel bombs on schools and hospitals. And who, when he feels cocky and forgets himself, gets the poison gas out.
Russia and America have for some time lived with this bad boy in the basement. He is the enemy of America’s enemy, and so gets a long leash. A leash that was some time ago handed to Russia because, well, they’re willing to do it.
There is no use recounting the endless list of crimes committed by the Assad regime, abetted by its active bad uncle Putin and given relatively free reign by sleepy Uncle Obama. Trump – elected with help from Putin and very likely a part-time operative for Putin – must have seemed to Assad to be the perfect replacement for Obama. Obama had been relatively passive, indecisive and unthreatening; Trump was downright friendly by comparison.
Time for some fun in Syria.
That is why Assad allowed his gang to go back to the gas – because he thought he could. So if you’re wondering why Syrian kids are dying of a gas attack, it’s not complicated. It is the product of decades of tolerating a monster. If his behaviour is a little worse this week, you can blame the Trump voters for the ghastly scenes on your TV and computer this week. They gave Assad the green light (or so he thought).
But this is awkward, very awkward. It is one thing to torture defenseless creatures in the relative dark of the Syrian basement. It is another, altogether, to massacre children on television. That presents very unpleasant pictures and shines a very bright light on the morally indefensible position of the U.S. (and Russia, and others) to the Syrian conflict.
And so, it has become necessary to give the bad, bad boy Assad, a time out. A cruise missile strike on an airbase. Symbolic, but relatively harmless. A minor punishment, loud and noisy enough to appear real but focused and small enough, to do no lasting damage to the regime.
Everyone should feel better now, we did something about Syria. And if that has the added benefit of changing the conversation from “Russia runs Trump”, or creates the false impression of some distance between Donald and Vlad, all the better.
Trump is wagging the dog this week. Next week, Assad will go back to torturing it.
In the basement.
“Politics is a spectator sport with gravely serious consequences.
Think of it as “The Hunger Games” with less attractive players and much higher stakes.”
David ben Shmuel
A man I taught to write wins a Pulitzer Prize for journalism a while back and dies just this week.
The Puitzer is for newspaper commentaries “ … which consistently champion ordinary citizens.”
This man wins the Pulitzer because be writes about ordinary women and men — people like you and me — as if we are the most important people in all the world. He writes like this because he really, genuinely, absolutely believes that ordinary people are the most important people in all the world.
The man’s name is Jimmy Breslin. He’s Irish and fat and looks like a debauched choirboy when I see him last. He drinks too much and smokes too much and wears clothes like he sleeps in them which, some of the time, he does.
For years Jimmy Breslin has had a passionately public affair with the ordinary people of New York City. He loves them. They love him. They show their love by not electing him deputy mayor of the city when he runs for that high and impossible office, and by reading his newspaper column where they see themselves and their lives and the lives of people they know.
Like Jimmy Breslin.
It’s the great New York newspaper strike of 1968. Temporarily unemployed newspaper writers who think TV journalism is just a passing fad and has nothing to do with real journalism suddenly find TV newsrooms very nice places indeed — if only they can get jobs in them.
The New York Herald Tribune is on strike. So Jimmy Breslin is a temporarily unemployed newspaper writer. He signs with WABC, the ABC station in New York, to do his column on TV and prevent any interruption in the flow of groceries to his six kids and wife, the former Rosemary Dottalico.
To understand anything about Jimmy Breslin you have to understand that while he writes with more soul and heart and emotion and caring than any other American newspaperman of his time, he is also a very tough cookie indeed.
Breslin comes out of Queens. One of the toughest places to come out of. A lot of people don’t. There’s evidence — which he doesn’t deny — that his only educational diploma is from Elmira Reformatory.
Before The New York Herald Tribune goes on strike and he still has a job, Breslin leaves his beloved New York, with considerable reluctance, to cover some of the more significant events of our time.
He goes to Viet Nam. He ignores the Five O’clock Follies news conferences called by the American generals who specialize in lies and tactics and strategy and dinner in the officer’s mess, even though he is the most famous person around and could have had a lovely war, well diluted with excellent Scotch.
Instead, Breslin goes into the paddies, with the ordinary GIs who live and fight and sometimes die in the paddies and aren’t heroes most of the time and don’t know or even care what the hell the war is about but do know that they want out of this hell and want out now.
He writes about a battalion of Marines at the battle of Van Tuong, “the kids of eighteen, nineteen, and their early twenties”:
Somewhere close, artillery was going off. Jets screamed in the sun overhead. They sat with their chins down so the sand wouldn’t blow in their eyes. They talked about an amusement park in Long Beach where young kids go. Then Kendall’s eyes came up and he saw a guy walking toward them from another hole.
“What are you, soft?” he yelled. “You’ll get shot right through the ass doing that.”
The other two looked up. They all looked the same. Three kids in a foxhole with faces that are very old.
Breslin goes to London because Winston Churchill is dying. This prickly professional Irishman drinks in a pub where people remember the British lion:
“‘E was there when ’e was needed,” another one of the women said.
“We’d a been lost without ’im”, the man said.
Then one of the other women said something and so did another one, and the man at the bar started talking and now Moad’s fist shook in the air again and here in this little bar, with over twenty years gone since anger was needed, the fire came out again and now you could see just what kind of job this Winston Churchill did for his own when they needed him.
Breslin goes to Ireland and writes about The Troubles and The Easter Rising and “the lovely British” and their legacy for Ireland:
The oppression ended fifty years ago. But the product of it still is in Dublin. The kids on Sheriff Street and the blocks and alleys around it live in houses that have overflowing garbage cans inside the front doors and no baths inside the flats.
Breslin writes about the people who live in the slum tenements of America and have no hope but do have guns and would really, really like to kill a whitey. Just one.
And about other people in the tenements who don’t have guns so throw rocks and garbage and sometimes Molotov cocktails from rooftops at white police and white firefighters and white reporters in the streets below.
He writes about black people who grow up in black slums and go to third-rate black schools and won’t ever get jobs but go on to have children who grow up in black slums and go to fourth-rate black schools and won’t ever get jobs either.
All white and pink and blue-eyed and Irish, Breslin walks into the riots and writes about them so white people can understand the obscenity of racism and why — when you’ve got no hope left, none at all — you burn, baby, burn.
Breslin is scared of nothing.
But Breslin is terrified of television.
I’m all of 26, fresh off the boat from reporting on the Congo wars, very English-South African, a brand-new producer/reporter with ABC News in New York.
What little I know about New York comes mostly from reading Breslin’s column.
So they make me Breslin’s mentor and editor.
They make me the editor of the Irishman from Queens who covers the freedom marchers in the redneck South and writes:
You have not lived, in this time when everything is changing, until you see an old black woman with mud on her shoes stand on the street of a Southern city and sing “ … we are not afraid ” and then turn and look at the face of a cop near her and see the puzzlement and the terrible fear in his eyes. Because he knows, and everybody who has ever seen it knows, that it is over. The South as it has stood since 1865 is gone. Shattered by these people in muddy shoes standing in the street and swaying and singing “We Shall Overcome.”
They want me to teach the great writer Jimmy Breslin to write.
On the first day he’s with ABC, he comes into the newsroom with his friend Fat Thomas who weighs 415 pounds and makes a living by betting on which horse will pass the winner’s post first.
Breslin is given a tiny cubicle next to mine, a desk and a typewriter. Fat Thomas finds the widest chair in the newsroom, takes it without asking, puts it carefully outside the opening to Breslin’s cubicle and sits and waits for Breslin to write.
Fat Thomas doesn’t talk to me. Not once. Not once in all the long weeks the newspaper strike lasts and he sits outside Breslin’s cubicle next to mine and watches Breslin write.
Breslin tells me Fat Thomas only talks about horses anyway so I’m not missing much.
Inside that cubicle, Breslin writes and sweats.
He sweats over every word. He puts paper into the typewriter and writes a few words and swears and pulls the paper out of the typewriter so the machine screams and he crumples the paper into a huge snowflake and throws it on the floor and starts again.
All the time he writes and sweats and swears and throws crumpled paper on the floor, Breslin smokes. The butts pile up in the ashtray and spill over and join the snowflakes on the floor.
Breslin takes writing very seriously. Very seriously indeed.
It’s the end of the first week. Things aren’t going too well. He hasn’t captured the fire. He knows it. He shows me yet another draft.
“Tim … whadya think?” he asks. “Don’t bullshit me. It don’t work. Don’t tell me it works. It’s crap.” He pleads “Help me, Tim … you know how to do this goddam thing …”
How do you tell the great Jimmy Breslin how to write?
“Write like you talk, Jimmy … That’s all … Write like you talk … Maybe if we try this way …”
Outside the cubicle, overflowing the biggest chair in the newsroom, Fat Thomas watches Breslin write and re-write and sweat and swear and smoke and you know Fat Thomas would much rather watch horses run around in circles.
Inside his cubicle, Breslin and I re-work the column. Again and again. For Breslin, every sentence and word must be right. Every time. Only the best. Only the exact and perfect sentences and words will do.
In exact and perfect order.
Sentences are born. Sentences die. Words are born. Words die. Breslin searches for the fire, the music. In the end, he wants the words to disappear. Leaving only the feeling, the emotion.
That’s how poets do their thing.
The snowflakes and the cigarette butts pile up and suddenly — so suddenly that it catches you in the throat because you haven’t seen it coming — the words and sentences about the death of some kid in the sad, killing streets of Harlem aren’t just words and sentences any more.
Now, because Breslin cares so much and knows that words can do wonderful things to the soul, his words turn into music and he’s writing a love song about this boy who pushes drugs and his sisters and is shot down by a cop while “trying to escape.”
The words, and only the right words, have come. Unsentimental words. Honest words. Vulnerable words. Compassionate words. Now, Breslin’s words and sentences touch the soul. And make it sing.
We go to the studio and tape Breslin’s column. We do a second take. And a third take. And a fourth take.
“Just talk it, Jimmy” I say. “That’s all. Just talk it. Like you’re talking to Fat Thomas.”
And Breslin forgets that he’s really a newspaperman trying to make it on TV and forgets the camera and its red light staring at him and talks into the microphone just like he talks to Fat Thomas, but without the swearing.
The fifth take is a keeper.
“Beautiful. I couldn’t have done it without ya, Tim” says Breslin. “Thanks buddy.” Fat Thomas says something about horses and how, if they hurry, they can make the fifth race.
Breslin calls his wife, the former Rosemary Dattolico, and says he’ll be home late. Not to wait up.
I ask him to autograph a book of his columns.
“It’s a pleasure to do business with you, Tim” he writes. “Take Care, Jimmy Breslin.”
He shakes my hand. “I couldn’t have done it without ya, Tim”
And he and Fat Thomas walk out through the newsroom, out into the late afternoon sunlight to catch a cab that will take them to watch horses run around in circles.
Eighteen years later Jimmy Breslin wins the Pulitzer Prize for Distinguished Newspaper Commentary.
Somehow — and it can’t have been easy — he does it without me.
It was a pleasure to do business with you, Jimmy.
Tim Knight is an Emmy-winning journalist, filmmaker and writer who’s worked for three newspapers, United Press International (three years, two wars in Congo), CBC in Canada and ABC, NBC and PBS out of New York. He’s the author of Storytelling and the Anima Factor, now in its second edition, from which this article is adapted. He’s based in Cape Town. www.TimKnight.org.
Thought for the Day …
by Kelley White
It’s easy to victimize the mentally ill, particularly in the age of the Information Super Highway. It just takes technology. All of the means released in the recent WikiLeaks publication to include the tools they gift site visitors? These same tools can be used against you. Corporate entities, foreign and national entities, private individuals and or any combination of the above can wage cyber warfare without your knowledge or consent attempting to rewire your brain just like a pigeon with a Skinner Box.
You no longer control the content you see or when you see it. You see what algorithms serve. We trust these entities to act ethically in our best interests as they tell us they are collecting the data and invading our privacy. How many apps downloaded to your phone grant the app creator access to your phone mic, contacts, or other data secured on your phone? When you download the app you consent. Essentially this becomes a non-consensual consent.
The consumer assumes the corporate entity will respect their right to privacy as they waive their right to privacy placing the desire for convenience and or content over privacy. They assume that if at some point the entity will request additional permissions before it avails itself of the ability to eavesdrop or photograph. One of the benefits of a dissociative identity disorder is that in moments of clarity you can analyze and qualify over a broad spectrum based upon research and direct experience. You can with more objectivity determine the paramount patterns with an interface which to date lacked human emotion.
The very illness which makes it challenging to cope with your day to day environment gives you a hyper- focus which blinds you to the macroscopic day in day out reality of living. No sense of time, lack of core constancy, inability to create and sustain structure, inability to tolerate protracted or pronounced external stimulus now work to one’s advantage.
I internalize and personalize emotionally external stimulus. Personalization is the literal consequence of objectification. Personalization is a component of hyper vigilance which attempts to remain tactical to retain maximum control over physical security. If you personalize within a contextual framework of rational empathy? If in addition to this you are empathic, mentally ill with no core sense of self you can be easily manipulated. You lack all credibility because it is assumed you distort reality when you are mentally ill. It’s like when we speak to the elderly as though they were two.
Social media is the ultimate form of personalization.
Each feed is a virtual reality unto itself. Now if you listen to someone’s immediate environment, (Ie: listen to them via their microwave for giggles?) Then imagine their computer activity and their living environment syncs with their Facebook feed?
At what point does the line between tangible and virtual reality blur?
I think we imagined that the two realities would remain simultaneously accessible yet physically distinctive. In a post-human world, it is logical that the two would at some time merge. I think we the consumer naively assumed we would control this merging and it too would be distinctive and within our means to control. Working over multiple platforms and noting the prevailing trends within each platform to trigger me with the same emotional triggers within content in conjunction with real time events which could only be known to people or me with intimate knowledge of me then? The merging of the physical with the virtual becomes so pronounced if one can disassociate and withstand the triggers long enough to observe the content and the emotional reaction to the content delivered? The content is deliberately delivered in this fashion over a protracted period. It can and does modify behavior.
Neurotics build sandcastles in the sky. Psychotics live in them.
We have replaced the tangible for the intangible finding it preferable. Our finances, our entertainment, our social interaction? For so many of us who are artistic or entrepreneurial, political?
We are dependent upon literally consuming high quantities of sophisticated data for the highest and most precise form of cognitive retention. Assimilation with critical thinking in real time to respond to real-time complex interdependent systems then we have ever attempted before. We are collectively now aware in real time of anything, and everything is happening anywhere on the planet. We are omnipresent and yet not present at all. This intangible reality we are forced to remain eternally virtually present with to optimize maximum volume and profit potential becomes the cloning of virtual identities, the wholesale creation of artificial virtual intelligence (what bots truly are). I am not certain that narcissism is the original illness.
Any profession dependent upon the largess of the public must be conscious of “image.” Hereto wit “image” was carefully designed and yet there was some modicum of privacy left. We understood that privacy was vital to the autonomy of everyone. Nothing is private anymore. We are confronted with our humanity in all its messiness mirrored back within a broad spectrum of behaviors.
With awareness, we understand any of these behaviors have been or can become our own. There is no illusion of an ideal self or even a core self. By experience, Successive approximations to change which are lasting are achieved over longer periods of time. The process is not linear. What happens when you accelerate the process merging tangible reality with controlled content delivery over time? You accelerate the rate of change necessary for the individual to keep pace. If the individual has any cognitive distortion? By observation, this will be amplified.
My observation is that this has the potential to be used for the good or negative. For the social introvert, the benefit is the ability to have the perception of a social life without experiencing the painful challenge of social anxiety. To the extreme, it can become, by personal observation, a means of reinforcing patterns of social isolation which would make one more vulnerable to psychological cyber attacks which may or may not be within the awareness of the content consumer.
My Dear Americans,
So very sorry to hear about your new president and the appalling way he’s treating you.
I really, really feel your pain.
But you’re not alone. We, here in South Africa, know what it’s like to elect a paranoid, grandiose, delusional, narcissistic, demagogic and probably sociopathic president.
Our version is Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma — a corrupt, giggling, barely-educated Zulu polygamist worth some $215-million after a lifetime in various forms of politics, who says his ruling party, the African National Congress (ANC) will rule “until Jesus returns” and that the ANC is more important than the nation.
Your version is Donald John Trump — a coarse, dyed, lying multi-billionaire who in the short time we’ve had the displeasure of knowing him, shows every sign of copying Zuma’s blatant disrespect and disregard for truth and democracy.
So, using Zuma as an example, let me warn you about what happens when a narcissistic, paranoid, grandiose, delusional, demagogic and probably sociopathic person becomes president of a country.
The first and most obvious symptom for the sickness to come is that he believes — along with the French Sun King, Louis XlV — “L’etat c’est moi.”
This inevitably translates, as it has in South Africa, into something called State Capture.
Ongama Mtimka, of the Department of Political & Conflict Studies, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, describes State Capture this way:
In a nutshell, it denotes holding the state ransom to the private desires of a particular group or for their selfish gains. A level of aggression and foul play is implied.”
Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma (most appropriately, Gedleyihlekisa translates roughly as “he who laughs while hurting you”) has been plotting to capture the South African state ever since he took power some nine years ago.
Over those years, Zuma has been spectacularly successful at looting the nation’s rapidly dwindling wealth and redirecting as much as he can into the pockets of his huge family — including four very expensive wives — and the sordid gang of lickspittles, sycophants and cronies who flourish on the leftovers.
For most of these years he’s faced — and used millions of state money to fight — a total of 783 corruption, fraud and racketeering charges connected to an extremely shady $2.1 billion arms deal.
Only last year, South Africa’s Constitutional Court ruled that Zuma violated the Constitution by failing to “uphold, defend and respect” it.
And that he acted unlawfully when he tried to saddle taxpayers with the bill for his private U$19-million home.
He appoints often wildly incompetent government ministers whose only loyalty is to himself. One example last year was a new Finance Minister who lasted just four days before even ANC grandees noticed the rapidly-dying Rand and forced a far better choice on him.
Which is where Zuma’s very, very good friends, the Gupta family comes in.
The Guptas are a stinking-rich, naturalised Indian family who’ve known Zuma ever since he became president. The two families are so close that South Africans refer to them collectively as the “Zuptas.”
Over the years, a Zuma wife, a Zuma son and a Zuma daughter have worked for Gupta companies and been most appropriately rewarded.
Not coincidentally, The Guptas have built a massive business empire on the backs of ANC government contracts.
The family are seen to be co-conspirators in Zuma’s inexorable drive to seize and loot those parts of the South African state — like the Treasury — which are still relatively honest and independent.
They’re believed to have directly offered Cabinet appointments — and huge amounts of cash — to people willing to do anything the Zuptas desire.
Don’t take my word for it. That’s the considered opinion of Thuli Madonsela, the former South African Public Protector (a sort of state ombudsman).
She said flatly that there’s evidence of corruption at the highest level of the South Africa’s government.
The family owns a blatantly Zuma-loving newspaper — which flourishes on huge, out-of-proportion government advertising — and a 24-hour TV news channel even more Zumian than Fox news is Trumpian.
The good news is that our own narcissistic, paranoid, grandiose, delusional, demagogic and probably sociopathic president hasn’t yet destroyed our democracy.
And not for want of trying.
But he keeps working on it.
Only last year Jacob Zuma said if he were a dictator he would solve South Africa’s problems.
“If you just give me six months to be a dictator, things will be straight. Right now, to make a decision you need a resolution, decision, collective, petition. Yoh! It’s a lot of work.”
Those exact words could have come from Donald Trump, twelve thousand kilometres away in Washington D.C.
Except that he would have said “sad!!” rather than “yoh!!”.
Zuma and Trump have much in common.
Both men reject the media’s historic constitutional role as watchdog over the powerful, particularly the government of the day.
Both men despise the law and the courts.
Both are secretive, arrogant bullies who believe journalists and news outlets that don’t slavishly respect and support them are therefore conspiring against them and are even guilty of treason.
Zuma wants a Protection of State Information Bill to grant state agencies broad authority to classify a wide range of information as in the “national interest” with potential prison terms for violations.
“Every morning” he’s said “you feel like you must leave this country because the reporting concentrates on the opposite of the positive.”
Trump of course, goes a lot further.
He wants to destroy the news media entirely. He describes them — while offering not a shred of evidence — of being “dishonest,” “disgusting” and “scum.” “The press is out of control,” he says. “The level of dishonesty is out of control.” The media are “the enemy of the American people.”
Both men loathe the Free Marketplace of Ideas which, in a democracy, is served and guarded by the media and holds that the truth will emerge from the competition of ideas in free, transparent public discourse.
Both Zuma and Trump have parliamentary majorities which have long since abandoned any pretence of real democratic debate and vote strictly along party lines.
Both believe in their own omnipotence, grandeur and invincibility.
And, of course, both are narcissistic, paranoid, grandiose, delusional, demagogic and probably sociopathic.
But there’s one big difference between Zuma and Trump.
Zuma — unlike Trump — doesn’t have his finger anywhere near the nuclear button.
That’s because apartheid South Africa destroyed all six of its very own nuclear bombs shortly before the 1994 election which ended apartheid and birthed democracy.
The official reason was that ending the nuclear program “will inspire other countries to take the same steps.” In fact, it’s widely believed that the then-white government was terrified that the bombs might one day fall into the hands of some future black government.
Just imagine Jacob Zuma’s finger anywhere near that button!
Now go really, really pale and realize that Donald Trump’s finger hovers near that button every single hour of his presidency!
The terrible truth is that both Zuma and Trump are the real thing. These are not the adopted personae so many politicians use to reach and hold office.
What you see is what you get.
Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma and Donald John Trump are narcissistic, paranoid, grandiose, delusional, demagogic and probably sociopathic men who will destroy our democracies if we let them.
And they’re not going to change.
I guess the only possible solution to the problem is that if they won’t change, we have to change them.
And excellent start would be to somehow force them out of their high offices.
We in South Africa haven’t been able to do that.
Not so far, anyway.
So good luck to you Americans.
I wish you peace and love,
Apropos of nothing to do with the above … back in 1964 while a reporter/producer for ABC News, I covered Arizona Republican senator Barry Goldwater’s run for the U.S. presidency.
Goldwater’s motto was: “In Your Heart, You Know He’s Right.”
The Democrats fought back and won with: “In Your Guts, You Know He’s Nuts.”
Tim Knight is an Emmy Award winner who’s worked on three newspapers, United Press International (three years and two wars in the Congo), and was a producer/reporter/filmmaker for ABC, NBC and PBS out of New York. For ten years he was lead trainer for TV News journalists at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC). Knight is author of Storytelling and the Anima Factor, now in its second edition.
Black History Month ‘Ridiculous’
There aren’t many people in Hollywood who could call Black History Month ‘ridiculous’ without receiving a ton of hate mail, but that’s exactly what Morgan Freeman did back in 2005 – and he managed to back up his controversial words with some very thought-provoking ideas about racial equality.
The Hollywood legend was being interviewed by Mike Wallace for CBS’s ’60 Minutes’ news magazine program when he was asked his opinion on the concept of Black History Month. But Morgan Freeman- arguably one of the greatest and most respected black actors of all time- wasn’t playing ball.
After branding the idea ‘ridiculous’, Freeman asks a pretty good rhetorical question: “What- you’re going to relegate my history to a month?”
Wallace doesn’t know what to make of this comment, but Freeman’s not done with him yet.
“What do you do with yours?” the actor asks his host, getting more pissed by the minute with Wallace’s line of questioning. “Which month is White History Month?” he demands. “Come on, tell me.”
Wallace replies that he’s Jewish, to which Freeman hits back: “Ok. Which month is Jewish History Month?” Wallace is forced to admit there isn’t one, and he tells Freeman he wouldn’t really want that kind of commemoration anyway.
“I don’t either,” Freeman tells him matter-of-factly. I don’t want a Black History Month. Black history is American history.”
Read More: trueactivist.com
Wallace replies that he’s Jewish, to which Freeman hits back: “Ok. Which month is Jewish History Month?” Wallace is forced to admit there isn’t one, and he tells Freeman he wouldn’t really want that kind of commemoration anyway.
“I don’t either,” Freeman tells him matter-of-factly. I don’t want a Black History Month. Black history is American history.”
Anytime someone calls Black History Month ridiculous, they’re met with immediate backlash (as they should).
Carter G. Woodson
“You’re going to relegate my history to a month?” the 79-year-old actor said during a “60 Minutes” interview in 2005. “I don’t want a black history month. Black history is American history.”
The Oscar-winning actor’s beliefs reiterate those of historian Carter G. Woodson, also known as the “Father of Black History Month.”
Woodson dedicated his career to making sure African-American history was taught and studied after he noticed black people were poorly underrepresented in school lessons and books. In 1915, he founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (now known as the Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History) and, 11 years later, created Negro History Week, which eventually expanded to become Black History Month.
Read More: huffingtonpost.ca
I appreciate Byron Katie greatly. I find the work something I resist. When I resist something with such veracity it most often has its roots in some larger truth secreted, awaiting discovery. When I resist something quite often it is the very thing I need to so.
How was I to do the work regarding our current President?
Byron Kathleen Mitchell, better known as Byron Katie is an American speaker and author who teaches a method of self-inquiry known as “The Work of Byron Katie” or simply as “The Work”.
I attempted to watch a video which was created by Byron Katie for this occasion and after several minutes found myself angered at the surreal absurdity with which something which does pose a concrete threat was dismissed. I found myself wanting to sit down with Byron Katie and ask some questions of my own.
What would the work have looked like if Byron had the ability to go back in time and meet with Hitler?
It then hit me, as I was contemplating Heisenberg wave theory of all things, that perhaps my issue was I had different fears?
The work is unique to the individual. What if my questions raised a different awareness for consideration?
Climate change is a very real issue. Fossil fuel dependency is a very real issue. Fracking is environmentally hazardous. Pollution and toxicity are impacting species and the earth’s capacity to maintain the narrow spectrum of conditions requisite to sustain life as we now know it in many forms on the planet. It is true that human conduct is negatively impacting the health of the planet.
It is true that President Trump’s current plans as outlined on his WhiteHouse.gov website will cause further harm to the environment. These are facts, not alternate facts, or even facts lite.
It is true that there are many who dismiss scientific evidence under the erroneous assumption there is some grand conspiracy afoot to further a liberal global elite agenda. Ironically globalization is inevitable because we function within a larger ecosystem called earth to whom we are all answerable.
Nature is not a respecter of persons.
The only turn around I can arrive at is I (we) indeed are all remiss in one nuance of the spectrum or another in contributing to the larger scope of the problem in small ways which prove exponentially problematic.
The President merely represents a different position on the spectrum of indifference and overall contribution. He can create an impact on a larger scale, thus his waves create a larger ripple effect. His consequences, in turn, will be equally and appositionally proportionate with one another.
Slavery has created a huge wound in this nation which we have yet to address or heal. The theft of the very land we reside in from our Native Americans is another deep wound we pour salt on versus attempt to redress. The Civil War is another tragedy still churning animosity. These things are true. I know they are true.
It has become abundantly clear the political correctness driving unpopular speech behind closed doors through public opinion merely hid a seething cancer only those who experienced it knew was still with us.
Periods of historical contraction offer us the ability to reflect and act where we once failed to act, altering an old self-defeating global response, and creating a new movement of global change.
If I did the work I could see that my failing was impatience with those whom in my humble estimation and experience failed to comprehend the larger complexities and potential outcomes juxtaposing the micro with the macro for a more holistic understanding from which to make more educated and thus hopefully more precise successive approximations towards slow but lasting positive progress. Such deliberation minimizes the inevitable setbacks one will encounter despite the best planning.
We appear to be a nation divided in approach as to how change is achieved on the personal, the interpersonal or the social level. One portion is impatient, seeking immediate remedy for issues decades and or centuries in the formation through external force. The other seems more understanding that progress is not a linear process but an internal transformation.
It is a difference of simplicity versus complexity, and fluidity versus rigidity. It is the tension of attachment versus detachment and optimism versus cynicism. If peak creativity occurs at the threshold of maximum tension? We can resist tyranny and enter a period of self-determination within the fluidity of a cooperative paradigm. Succeed or fail we must create anew with heart that which we deconstruct.
It juxtaposes those who think the story of the universe is complete through the mythologies presented in holy scriptures with those who see the spirit’s essence in pattern expressed in math ever contracting and expanding.
This creative tension exists to elicit a vibrant explosive energy of potentialities and probabilities which can either propel us exponentially into an ever-expansive cooperative social paradigm or send us spiralling into a cycle of “as long as I get mine” mentality which sees Earth bidding us good riddance to restore balance to the larger system which sustains all life.
If anything became apparent to me from my own foray into doing the work?
Perhaps if The President took us ten steps backward it would be the best thing that could happen.
If we are not ready to progress into the future with equity for one another and all life forms on this planet it is best for our overall survival to run out of oil with no back up plan. Perhaps it is best for us to continue to allow water to be polluted or looted. Perhaps it is best for us to make matters so much more emergent they will no longer be met by platitudes and euphemisms but concrete action.
Love is a verb.
If we are set back at a time when our progress would only mean destruction due to arrogance and ignorance?
Perhaps we will unwittingly save ourselves from a larger destruction which could prove irreversible or fatal for more than just our species.
©2017 Kelley White