Part 1: Foundation and Complicity
I always thought the maxim that “you can never truly see where you are unless you look from another perspective” wasn’t altogether true, or at least minimized your true understanding of your present condition or place. To a degree I still think that because of lived experience, but also for reasons that have recently become clear to me through doing research to write this piece. The idea for this questioning was primarily born from a recent trip my wife and I took to Krakow, Poland and Munich, Germany. It also has a great deal to do with the present state of the United States’ electoral process, and current racial strife. Europe is experiencing many of the same conflicts that we are in the United States. In some cases, especially with racial strife and the refugee crisis boiling over into terrorism you could make the argument that they are no better, or perhaps are in a worse state than the United States. But then we would be getting ahead of ourselves, especially given that that isn’t currently true.
Where lies this cultural critique though, and what historical lens can we use that hasn’t been touched on, elaborated upon, or truly parsed and analyzed for deeper understanding. I am truly walking into the cavern of knowledge built by Camus, King, Said, Chomsky, Malcolm X, West, and Coates to name literally a few of the great minds that have endeavored to understand and explain the American Experience and its historical underpinnings and impact. But it was today that what I wanted to write got a bit of a boost. I already started and restarted another piece on the current state of black music in the United States revolving around 3 signature albums and their critique of the American Black Experience, which I now think will become part of this larger piece. But it was a comedy bit by George Carlin today about the power of the vote, and our complicity in the undermining of our own self-interests that really started the engine running.
For writers like Camus (a personal idol) it was rare in work of this type that the wall came down and writer takes a step back in order to address the audience with an apologia, if the writing itself was not an apologia. But this isn’t an apologia, in fact it is a direct indictment of our current social mentality. However, in order to indict I must admit my complicity in the creation and support of this society. I have a house with central air conditioning, I drive a car that runs on gasoline, I drive to work every day, I don’t recycle very well, I eat chicken, fish and pork and though I try to make the best decision about my meat choices I don’t ask when I’m at a restaurant, I don’t buy organic produce, I wear clothing manufactured in places that have terrible human/worker’s rights records, I use computers and smart phones that use raw materials tied to further human rights abuses, and I take for granted that these and all other things in our society will be available for purchase to me every day that I wake up. What does it require that these things be available? They require our society and the prevailing mentality of the flexibility of history that undergirds it.