Sunday, April 8, 2012

It isn't finished.

I think I need therapy. This morning, as I indulged in the orgasmic daily experience that is my morning coffee (black with 1 Splenda) I flipped on the television to find the movie musical Godspell running. After five minutes of watching, I turned to Katy, my replacement cat, and said, “These people are stoned and this is a stupid movie”, at which point I flipped off the TV, grabbed my rainbow emblazoned mug o’Joe, and came here into my office to write. Tried as I might, I just couldn’t seem to focus on the topic I wanted to cover, which was the state of race relations in America because something about my reaction to the movie bothered me immensely. I may still get around to the original topic by the end of this entry, but I can’t promise you anything.

Sitting here yet again in front of the blank computer screen, desperately searching for that magical combination of words to form an attention grabbing opening sentence, I kept going back to my comment to Katy. Why did this Love Generation version of the Bible fill me with contempt for the people onscreen? Why was their naiveté and innocence about as inspirational as a Mitt Romney extended version recording of God Bless America? And why was I talking to a cat?

Part of the explanation for my malaise could probably be explained by the fact that it was 6:30 on a Sunday morning and I was pissed at Katy for waking me up way too soon. She, like me, is a creature of habit, and doesn’t understand any break in routine. At 6:30 each weekday morning, she stands on my chest while I’m in bed, puts her head close to me and meows very loudly in my face. This is her subtle cat way of letting me know that she’d like some breakfast. As smart as she is, she knows not that Sunday is a day to sleep in.

But the real issue I took with the movie was that it represented a time in my life that seems so distant and alien to me now. When Godspell was new, so was I. I had the future to look forward to and all the power of creation at my disposal. Nothing was impossible, including leaving this world a better place than I found it. I truly believed that peace, love, and understanding were not just a slogan for my generation, but a way of life. What was the mantra of my idealistic youth has given way to a rapidly increasing realization that age has caused my ideals to callous over; and that bothers me tremendously.

I doubt that therapy can help me recover the endless anticipation, idealism and excitement I had when I was young. After all, I’ve seen too many things both horrible and joyous to be that naively blissful. At this stage of the game it is probably foolish to think that mankind has a chance to evolve into a society that actually lives by the principles of Jesus as opposed to just using them to exploit a personal motive, like greed, intolerance or hatred.        

I used to wonder what the world would be like if everyone’s individual voice could be heard. In my Godspell years, my immature thoughts and fantasies fully accepted the idea of a world where love replaced hate. It seemed so possible then.

“Some men see things as they are and ask why?
I dream of things that never were and ask, why not? 

How many times over these last forty or so years have I heard the words of Robert Kennedy echo in my head so loud and clear whenever a new war breaks out here or there, when unspeakable travesties have been perpetrated on innocents, when buildings are reduced to nothing but a pile of smoldering ashes, dust and bits of charred bone? How many more times like those are yet to come during my lifetime and beyond? And how much more hatred must be spewed upon the earth until the day comes when there is no turning back?

This Internet, this wonderful magical thing that mankind has invented, has allowed us all to speak to one another in a way that has never been seen before. We have the opportunity to reach out and reduce our differences to meaningless dust. But it seems that more and more, we are shouting at one another instead of listening. We are turning the Internet into a modern day Tower of Babel instead of embracing a light of understanding. There is no longer civil discourse going on; it is being supplanted by the venomous demagoguery of those whose bullying philosophies can garner more numbers than their opponents.

I mentioned earlier that if possible, I would get to the race relations issue and this seems like as good a time as any to do so.

My diatribe today was inspired in part by an article that appeared in the Huffington Post. It had to do with the firing of a National Review writer, John Derbyshire, who wrote an article about the “talk” that white parents should have with their children when dealing with black people. I won’t even dignify Mr. Derbyshire’s article with quotes from it (you can read it yourself), but suffice to say that when as conservative a publication as the National Review calls the writer’s views “appalling”, you know it can’t be good.

The article appeared in an online magazine called, ironically enough, Taki’s. Not being one to take the word of one reporter, I went to Taki’s to see for myself what this purportedly ‘libertarian’ magazine was putting out for publication. What I found not only blew my mind, but made me a little sick to my stomach too. Among the top ‘reads’ were columns with titles like the aforementioned “The Talk: Nonblack Version”, and “Trayvonasaurus Rex”, which is a thinly veiled attempt to paint Trayvon Martin’s killer as the victim (I don’t know that he was or wasn’t and am waiting for more information before I decide).  

Also listed as ‘most popular’ were articles such “Multiculturalism: When will the Sleeper Awake?” and finally “Keep your Ovaries out of our Wallets”, a story about the recent Sandra Fluke controversy regarding contraception. I don’t know if this ‘magazine’, which is published by someone named Taki Theodoracopulos, is an attempt at satire in the vein of The Onion, but I suspect that it isn’t and ‘Taki’ sincerely believes all the venomous dreck which appears there.

It’s not that I find opinions that digress from my own intolerable. I love a good debate, provided that there is an intention to enlighten and teach in doing so. But it seems that more and more, civil discourse has given way to uncivil disgust. Instead of sharing opposite opinions we seek to shut them down and shut them up. This kind of intolerance can only end with polarization, clan hatred and violence. It has to stop.

Civilization, if it is to survive, must learn to accept the fact that not all people are the same, and that they cannot ever be forced to be so. I hope that the fragmenting I see so much of online is simply the over zealous exercise of free speech that has heretofore not been available to the masses. Average people are getting to speak for the first time in history and perhaps we are just in the infancy of understanding.

So, maybe I don’t need therapy after all. My idealism might be a little dented and rusted, and arthritis prevents me from running through a field picking wildflowers to hand out to strangers, but it is still there. And if this is the journey that humanity must take, then I can do a little here and now and maybe I won’t feel like the place is worse off than when I got here. Of course, it would be lot easier if you pitched in and did your part as well.

Over time perhaps, long after I’m gone I fear, the soot that has covered Jesus’ teachings over the centuries since His death can be scrubbed away, revealing the beauty and simplicity of what He really meant. From neighbor to neighbor, maybe we can all see each other more clearly, follow each other more nearly, and love each other more dearly. But it won’t happen overnight. We must work at it... day by day by day...

That’s it. I’m done bitching. Everybody hug, everybody eat some Easter Pie. Abbondanza!   


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