No social philosophy, economic strategy or cultural perspective can guarantee our well-being without the truth.
Largesse is hawked by capitalists gone wild on one end of the spectrum while entitlement is claimed by socialists gone catatonic on the other. Regardless of mergers and acquisitions or endowments and requisitions, we circle back to the conceit of our self-centered consciousness. We reveal our immorality in managing our human nature. We wield power through the theft of resources.
In this current social class, the binary operative offers complicity or revolution. We are done with listening. The fact is Black anger is not a new scary militant insurgency. It is centuries-old scream. It is a plea for resource. I remember the discrepancy in grade school with Samuel Burwell, on the bus in high school with Peter Sylvester. I remember Lloyd Price, famous for his R&R hits of the 60’s recalling how he was forced to enter through the service entrance of the hotel where he was headlining. These memories are my fellow Americans’ realities. While I comfortably reflect with dismay, they burn with resentment embedded throughout a lifetime of dismissal.
White kids grappling with their privilege is not the fight with which people of color are concerned. Inherited prejudice is still prejudice, just new and improved, and its elimination takes introspection and response. It does not mean owning and driving the solution under the comfortable guise of reform. Malcolm X’s claim that white people can only help by getting out of the way does not comply with Martin Luther King’s plea for reconciliation. But the former addresses a founding principle of being American-the right to own one’s self determination without disclaimer, without approval of white cultural control.
Reactionary overtures to appease do nothing but make the politician on the spot look good. Taking a knee is a just a photo op unless the motivation is acknowledgement of a centuries old, disgraceful denial of human dignity. Reform assumes the bath water is the only issue with the baby. Reparations is a buyout, a no contest admittance of the flaw in our national conscience. It does not have any transformative value. None of these proposals solve the irrevocable damage to our civic character. We will not solve our malaise unless we admit that resource is at the center of our conflict and our schemes to keep as much of it for ourselves is the sin that destroys us.
It is the moral imperative of sharing that is our hope. Its application lies in access, not distribution.
Our governance fails to make life permanently better in the long run. Laws merely band-aid a wound for a while until the next cut appears. We add another gauze wrap until we can comfortably disclaim the culpability that stems from the defective underpinning of our social order.
The earth, the home of our resource, is wiser than we are. We are here by accident; recipients, perhaps, of an invitation by a higher order delivered to the wrong address. Our importance is based on conjecture. When we spill our trash, we diminish the earth’s pristine wilderness, but in the long run we merely inconvenience ourselves. The earth has a better recycling program than we could ever create. It includes our demise to make it clean and fresh again. The only way we survive in our own short-lived time is whether we choose to love, to deceive, to honor, or to destroy each other in the stewardship of our resource.
John holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Western Connecticut State University. His articles have appeared in Adelaide Literary Journal, Poor Yorick Literary Journal, The Raven’s Perch, and the San Antonio Review. John’s upcoming memoir, Just Off, Stage Right, is a rip-roaring look at a man behind the curtain.