Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Changing the Narrative: Part I—Trespassing in the Hall of Mirrors

In an essay titled, Pain Won’t Kill You, Jonathan Franzen questions our growing narcissism enabled by social media like Facebook. He writes:

“Alongside our built-in eagerness to be “liked” in our Facebook posts is a built-in eagerness to reflect well on ourselves.…It’s all one big endless loop. We like the mirror and the mirror likes us. To friend a person is merely to include the person in our private hall of flattering mirrors. “

I plead guilty as charged. We all do. If I see 200 “likes” for a post, my sense of self-worth increases and my satisfaction that my message was worthy of reflection confirmed. (I try to include philosophical and political points of view alongside my visit to the grandkids or recent workshop experience.) It’s all preaching to the choir and the song is always soothing. Which is dangerous, lulling us into complacency and a view of the world in which everyone shares my hard-earned and in my mind, life-sustaining, values.

But occasionally, a “friend” has snuck into the choir who is anything but a member of my club. And then I see all of her or his friends in a very different hall of mirrors affirming each other’s point of view without a single alternative thought entering the conversation. This happened recently and shocked me into a disturbing awareness of just how deep our problems are.

I don’t believe its arrogance to judge this conversation. I don’t believe that all points of view are equally valid and we should just agree to disagree. Especially when such points of view allow for the ignorance about, subjugation of and purposeful harming and hurting of whole groups of people. You know who those groups are—people of color, gay folks, women, children, disabled people, people of non-Christian religious faiths. In the United States, we have a dominant narrative of white supremacy that runs the gamut from the Ku Klux Klan to white privilege of remaining ignorant of our actual history. What happened recently is the fear that that narrative is changing and that whites are the new minority who will be beaten down as they beat down others. In the exchanges below, please note the delusions: There was love between slave and master and yes, it must be so because a Southern white woman (Margaret Mitchell) says so! The Communists and Fascists have brainwashed our youth. We privileged white folks are now slaves and if we don’t watch out, we will suffer the extreme brutality of the Gone with the Wind DVD being banned!! “They’re” trying to take away our history! If you don't think like them, you are silenced, censored, fired or worse, killed. (This latter the most extraordinary. Haven’t you read the stories of policemen breaking into homes and massacring all the people watching Gone with the Wind?!)

So my first reaction, to be perfectly honest, is “These people are delusional idiots!!!” The second is “But it’s helping me to understand how what happened in November happened and why one of the most purposefully ignorant, pathologically narcissistic, incompetent Presidents in our entire history still has not been impeached. And the third is, “How can I talk to these folks (who are college-educated folks talking about consciousness and high vibrations) and help them escape this invisible narrative that has them in their grip and is causing so much harm? How can I enter their Hall of Mirrors and turn some of the reflecting glass into windows showing a different reality? So what follows is my attempt to do so.

But first their comments, starting with the original post showing a video of the Robert E. Lee statue in Dallas being taken down.

• I sit here in the bubble bath, daring to read Gone With the Wind, and enjoying every radical word, as Scarlett bats her eyes at the gentlemen, and Mammy fusses over her. Slave and master, and love between them for real. The history of Civil Rights, the progress, amid strain, difficulty and great odds, that was made, and suddenly Barack Hussein Obama lights a few matches of race war, and here we are taking down statues, as if statues are men, as if men are devils.

• Amen, sister!

• Yes It seems they want civil unrest .I recently watched the Gone with the Wind movie and thought that not all slaves were treated badly. 

• I'm thinking of buying a copy of the DVD, before it gets banned!

Disgraceful, no matter how many object, it is part of the nations history. Wiping them [ and the text books] clean doesn't change FACTS.

 Dallas has become very liberal the last few years. What a pity.

• It's all going according to plan. These statues have been there all this time. No one cared or even paid them any mind. The masters (ruling class now over us slaves), put it in the minds of college student radical progressives and they swallowed every word. For decades and decades all our institutions of learning have been filled with Communist/Fascist radicals. They are out to destroy our culture and replace it with Fascism and Marxism too. They are using the younger generations to sway thought. It is only okay if you think like them, if you don't you are silenced, censored, fired or worse, killed. If this treason isn't stopped we will be living a life like all those who came before us from every dictatorial country where in the end, millions and millions were slaughtered through one means or another.

• Agreed and it shows how easy it has become to brainwash humans--- weak minded ones!!! I for one keep my vibration high!!! To be conscious is to have a higher vibration. "Observe don't absorb"

• What this county needs is a good kick were the sun does not shine. Snow Flakes rule. Obama set race relations back 60yrs, and it was not by accident all in the big plan.

• A very sad day to see statues of history taken down. Nothing to do with present. folk died for every statue erected. For they are erected to remember the lives given.

• Like getting rid of giant evidence.. it takes hundreds of years... and we live an ant's age in comparison with time and real truth.

• So we have had the ACLU, Atheist and now snowflake therapy needing leftist removing more statues of American history! When is enough enough? What’s next? Removing the tombstone cross at Arlington national cemetery?

• Absolutely will happen! Crosses to be taken down nationwide! Hope I'm wrong.

Interesting, yes? So then I chimed in:

Before you continue the fantasy of love between slave and master, talk to a descendant of a slave or read some of the slave’s narratives or watch 12 Years a Slave.  As for statues, they represent a nation's pride, not disgrace. You don't find Hitler statues in Germany just because he was part of a nation's history.

One of the commentators wrote back in response:

Doug, my grandparents had been forced to take in Polish 'slave labour' during WW II. Farm help. They had been members of the family, NOT 'SLAVES'. My mom had remained best friends with one of the ladies and good friends with others, they had talked on the phone [ expensive] at Christmas time, every year. My dad had collected money for buying 5 harvesting combines and had taken them through formerly East Germany [ special permit] to Poland, hand delivering them! And did a second trip a few years later, collecting money about 3 years later with another convoy --- All of this has nothing to do with 'statue removal' but 'slaves'. And trying to help in the most practical way he could think of. --- Heck NO, our schools in Germany are named after resistance fighters!!!

And I responded:

Nice story. But note that "slaves" was in parenthesis. There is no parallel with actual slaves in the United States who were forcefully abducted, beaten, abused and no propoganda about the good ole days of genteel plantation life can whitewash the truth of how unbearable the slave’s lives actually were. Robert E. Lee was defending this institution of brutality, himself was involved in it and those who think he was a hero are supporting the notion that all of this was okay. We as a nation need to educate ourselves about the real story of slavery and talk to a couple of black folks about their experience. And listen deeply to their stories, not what Fox news reports about it all.

The person who posted also responded to my first comment with:

 • I wouldn't compare Robert E Lee, who was a great hero with Hitler.

That discussion in the next post. 

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