Race

Its not the menu

 

Once upon a time there was a couple who wanted to go to dinner.   “Let’s go to the new  seafood restaurant” the wife said.
“The one on main street?” the husband asked.  Affirmative.  “No, he replied.  “I’m tired, and don’t feel like driving that far.”

 

“I’ll drive,” she said.

 

“I Don’t like that part of town at night,” the husband said.

 

“O.K., we’ll go for lunch tomorrow” she replied.

 

“I don’t really like seafood,” the husband said.

 

“They have steak and chicken too,” she replied.  “I’ll order the seafood.”

 

“It’s a little expensive,” the husband said.

 

“I got a bonus,” the wife replied.

 

This went on and on, and then suddenly the husband blurted out: “my ex-wife owns it.  I won’t give that #$%% my money.”

 

###

 

This is most FB “Debates.”  While you’re arguing stuff on the surface, there is really a belief or value pattern deep underneath, and all the arguments are actually irrelevant to that core. You can expend all your time going from reason to reason, excuse to excuse, rationale to rationale, fact to fact, but unless you KNOW what the underlying b.s. is, you have wasted your time. Win every single “round” (and since there is no neutral judge, it is impossible to determine what “winning” is anyway. Routinely, both sides claim victory, or hadn’t you noticed?) and nothing changes.

 

Or…the opponent reluctantly agrees you are right, and within a week you can see they’ve “snapped” right back to their prior position as if their head is made out of memory plastic.  You can apply force and stretch it out of shape, but the instant you stop putting energy into it, it pops right back into its original form.

 

THIS is why the pattern goes as it does:

  1. Love yourself
  2. Love one other person
  3. Understand history without guilt, blame, or shame
  4. FIND AND PROTECT YOUR TRIBE.

 

Hear that?  It doesn’t say “beat people into submission with your brilliant rhetoric.”  That is a waste of life.   Better to nurture the people who already see your position, while being kind to others who are courteous but asleep (or simply see things differently, of course), and be ready to step on snakes and slay monsters if necessary.

 

Don’t waste your time.  It takes DYNAMITE to blast out belief patterns people were programmed with prior to puberty.  That stuff is like concrete. For instance, (and this is one I’ve had thousands of hours to think about) someone taught in childhood that blacks are inferior, by parents or a society that nurtures them, will see everything through that lens for the rest of their lives. They may be polite, may extend courtesy and respect, may even praise an individual who has “risen above” their roots…but under it all, they will “snap back” to that belief the instant they are under stress.  That’s the way the world makes sense to them.  They will not seriously entertain any facts that contradict that belief pattern because they would have to re-assess their entire world.

 

What’s another way we get these solid beliefs?   Pain. Survival.   Abuse victims can have “I am worthless” wired in so deeply that no surface actions can have lasting impact.   Conversely, they can also create a global negative for the entire class of people who hurt them: whites, blacks, men, women, Muslims, Christians, whatever.

 

It keeps them safe. Makes sense of the world.

 

And keeps them from having to look deeply within themselves, through the pain and doubt and fear and anger, into the Universal Humanity that demands we see our own imperfections AND beauty, understand both, forgive ourselves, love ourselves, and extend that to the rest of the world…because they are US.

 

So much easier to believe your group, however defined, is superior. Then of course to cover that up with polite obfuscation. And only debate the things that are acceptable to discuss in polite company.

 

Debate with a Young Earth person? Why, when the underlying belief is that The Bible says the world is only 6000 years old, and if they lost that belief, it would crack the entire cosmology they use to hold back their fear of death, or deep sense of guilt?

 

Debate with a sexist, whether male or female?  Why, when the underlying belief is that THEY are in control, stealing your life energy, dominating or manipulating you so that your emotions are spinning out of control?

 

Debate with a racist, black or white? Why, when both are careful to define the term so that it doesn’t include them, so that they don’t have to look at their beliefs, and can blame their personal pain on The Other without grasping the way history impacted the tribal conflicts?

 

And on and on.   All of this would make me sick to my stomach, if I didn’t daily deal with the conflicts, resentments, pains, fears, and angers in my own heart?   I can’t look down on any of these people…they are ME. And I love me. So I have to find a way to see that people do this to protect themselves. Anger is fear.  Ask yourself what the fear is, and suddenly you are no longer struggling with them.  You are honest enough to look back over your own life and realize that you didn’t change when people argued with you.  You changed when it became safe to change. When you could drop your guard, discard that habit, when it no longer provided more pleasure and less pain.

 

All you have to do is extend that to The Other, whether defined by gender, race, religion, or politics, and you will see everything there is to be seen of human history.

 

Most of the bullshit is just fear, or people who are asleep to the humanity of others.

Most of what remains are the snakes, people who are weak or hold a radically different view of humanity but won’t speak the truth.

And a tiny fraction of what remains after you avoid (or step on) the snakes are monsters, those who really see themselves as separate from humanity, have no love in their hearts, and take pleasure in your pain.

 

 

Focus on supporting your tribe, while being kind the sleepers, and mindful of the fact that you’ve been wrong in the past, and may be wrong again. A polite “opponent” can help to wake YOU up.   But it isnt’ likely to happen in a “debate.” Maybe 1% of the time, yes. But most of that talk is just air. If you really have the time and energy to do that…be my guest.

 

But don’t lie and say you don’t have the time to exercise, to finish that novel, to meditate. You’ve chosen to invest yourself in mutual  intellectual masturbation, mistaking it for the creation of life.

 

 

Namaste,

Steve

 

(how to pierce this veil?   Blow out those obstructions?  Simple, but tough: commit to growth in all four major arenas of life: body, relationships, career, finances.  It is damned tough to do without an increasingly accurate map of reality, without digging deep into who and what you really are.  The 101 Program is designed to do just that, starting with just five minutes and seven days.  The core is simple: can you trust yourself?  Do you keep your word? Do you tell yourself the truth?

 

If you don’t, the problem with your life is not outside somewhere.     It isn’t the location, the time, the cost, or the menu. It is a broken heart.)

 

The free 7-day program is at:    www.fiveminutelifehacks.com

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An example of why I’m optimistic…

Want to know why I believe the South is changing regarding racism, and for the better?  I’ve criticized it in the past, and it is only fair to mention an instance of why I believe it is healing…

##

This happened in a Southern State…

 

A martial artist I know, a man of mature years, call him William, was standing in a bank to cash a check.    Everyone in the bank was black.   Except for two  young customers ahead of him in line, one of whom  began loudly complaining about “all the niggers” in the bank, taking over the bank, and how it had been ruined thereby.

 

William looked around in shock.  The tellers pretended not to hear. The other customers were nervous.  Some began crying. The security guard pretended not to hear.

 

So…William walked up to the man, and punched him.  Just once. Dropped him like a rock.

Broke his jaw.

When the police arrived minutes later, the guy was still unconscious.  White cops, I might say.   William was thinking “oh crap. Oh shit.  What have I done?”   They looked at the man on the floor, talked to the customers, then  looked at William, and asked what had happened.

Without blinking, William said: “he was making a terrorist threat.”

 

The two cops looked at each other ….AND ARRESTED THE MAN ON THE FLOOR.

 

Get that?

 

A week later, the guy’s brother in law, a county sheriff, called William.   AND ASKED HIM IF HE WANTED TO PRESS CHARGES.

 

Are we seeing this picture?  These men were very clearly seeing the situation FROM WILLIAM’S POINT OF VIEW. They extended their own humanity.  They may or may not have wanted William’s son to marry their daughter. But they damned well knew the guy with the broken jaw was in the wrong.

 

They wanted NOTHING to do with supporting Brokejaw’s perspective or behavior.  Were looking for a way to let the old guy who had clocked the young bigot go free.  They’d taken sides. The right side.

 

You know, if your grandfather kills someone, it is not your sin.   If you help him bury the body, it is.

These guys weren’t helping to bury the body.

 

Wow.  LOVE that story.   I cannot imagine this happening fifty years ago.  Just…can’t.  Maybe if they knew William PERSONALLY. Good things happen between human beings who get to know each other.  But when it just…happens?

 

That’s healing. Good for the cops, and the Sheriff…

And William, of course.   One punch.    Heh heh.

 

Namaste,

Steve

Like Any Good Halloween Monstrosity, this one won’t stay dead

Oh, it pops up about once a week in my stream, and about once a month someone says it directly.  So I’ll answer it directly:
##

A reader said:

I’ve read a lot of things you’ve had to say about race, and they seem to be well thought
out and balanced, even if I don’t always agree with everything. However, I can’t
remember hearing you speak on a specific topic related to current culture. I found the
following quote on someone else’s wall, and wondered if you would be willing to express
your thoughts on it.

“The Black family survived centuries of slavery and generations of Jim Crow, but it has

disintegrated in the wake of the liberals’ expansion of the welfare state.” — Thomas Sowell

 ###
 MY RESPONSE:
I  think Sowell is entitled to his opinion. But he’s fallen into what I call the “Current
Southern Apologia”, the urgent desire by slavers and the descendants of slavers to avoid
responsibility for 350 years of rape, torture, murder, kidnapping and brainwashing by
blaming the damage on 50 years of free sandwiches.
###
It really does remind me of a pyromaniac blaming the damage in a burning house on the
firemen who axed down the door.  Or a child molester blaming the damage to his victims
on the neighborhood gossip that followed his arrest and conviction.

The Vegas Shooting: a loose thread in the Gordian Knot

 

I awakened almost a year ago with insight about a solution to the race problem, a five-step solution I’ve discussed many times since then:

  1. Love yourself
  2. Love one other person (leading to  the notion of “Num”, that there is one soul looking out through many eyes)
  3. Understand history without guilt, blame, or shame
  4. Support your tribe.  Don’t engage with sleepers or snakes. Be strong enough to fight monsters.
  5. Win with integrity and compassion.

 

I’ve also discussed The Hero’s Journey,  Musashi (especially “Do not think dishonestly”), Sun Tzu, and the notion that anger is fear…and where these ideas go.   I’ve explored these, expanded them, given endless examples. And applied them to other arenas like gender, sexual orientation, and politics.  But I’ve never tried to apply them to the gun issue. Because, frankly, I’m pretty ignorant about the subject.   Had to wait for an inspiration. And this morning I awakened with one.

###

 

 

For the men of Wu and the men of Yueh are enemies; yet if they are crossing a river in the same boat and are caught by a storm, they will come to each other’s assistance just as the left hand helps the right.“–Sun Tzu, “The Nine Situations” chapter 11

##

 

What is more important?  For you to win, or for your opponent to lose?    I hope you realize that if you focus on your opponent “losing” you can lose too, like the scorpion that stings the frog.

Focus on winning.  And if possible, if at ALL possible, help your opponent to win as well.  But the trick is: each of you may need to shift your definition of “winning”, go deeper than the surface issues, to do so.

##

On a basic level, you can start with the assumption of equality.     I fight for it, whether the subject is race, gender, or politics.  I will slowly, gradually, at great cost, be hauled away from that position.  Get attacked from both sides, which is fine by me.

I see many who start from the assumption of INEQUALITY. They too can be moved away from that position…but painfully, gradually, at great cost…and they snap back to those earlier assumptions first chance they get.  And yes, oppressed peoples (or those who consider themselves oppressed) are just as likely to consider themselves superior as oppressors, make no mistake.  Black people about white people, women about men, gay about straight, atheists about the religious.

It’s human stuff. Miss this, get politicized, and you might not notice when your allies slowly turn on you, until they manipulate you into a “heads I win tails you lose” situation, using fear or guilt to disarm and control.  Its fascinating to watch, really.

What’s even more fun is when they think I don’t notice.

To focus on the common ground is a tactic of phenomenal import, EXPECIALLY if you are deadlocked.  If one side is stronger than the other, there is the potential to simply strike and crush.    But if not?  Time to think differently.  Maybe not judo, which, while gentle, is still about “I win, you lose.”  Maybe Aikido, which asks us to find common ground.  We can both win.  If I must hurt you, we both lose.

You lose with broken bones of course.  Ahem.  But my spirit has been damaged because Num.

##

 

The Las Vegas shooting is a perfect example of a situation of common peril.  A stormy sea which endangers both “armies”.  If they can step back from their hatred and fear and selfishness and tribalism, they can grasp the core of the problem, and find common ground.

There are a few things about the Gun Control debate that I think all sane people can admit if they will take a deep breath.  I don’t think any of these points require much more than assuming shared humanity, and a little logic. For the sake of simplicity, we’ll say “Right” as “second amendment advocates”, and “Left” as “gun control advocates” without any pejoratives attached to either. Can we do that?

(BTW:   sorry, but I’m not calling this man a “terrorist”.   I think there has been a corruption of language.  A terrorist in my mind isn’t someone who inspires terror or causes violence.  It is a person who USES violence to cause terror with the intent of manipulating the minds, emotions, and actions of a population thereby. You can also cause mass death as a saboteur: a simple urge to damage the infrastructure of your opponent.  OR: you might simply wish to create a tableau,  and have no real caring about how your victims FEEL  about it. The victims aren’t human. Have no “inwardness”  They are just material to paint your canvas.  Of course, you may also simply enjoy killing, for the sheer pleasure.  Many of these seem to have increased joy if their victims are afraid.  But without a political will to leverage that fear to create some larger effect…not “terrorism.”

Such people are more dangerous than “terrorists” by the way.  They have stepped away from their humanity.   Be very, very careful. They have embraced their monstrosity.

Yeah, I’ve heard that the CIA changed the definitions. But if you don’t think intelligence agencies manipulate language to control populations, you might want to pay closer attention.

Anyway, as Rod Serling used to say, “Submitted for your approval”:

 

  1. Both Left and Right believe their position enhances chances of survival. For different reasons, yes.  But they do. You don’t have to agree with them, but you’d better believe they aren’t just engaging in political theater.
  2. The event in Vegas is a nightmare to both sides.  The Left because it is a primary nightmare of a killing machine leveraging the power of modern firearms and efficient tactics to slaughter the innocent.
  3. The Right because the “a bad man with a gun can only be stopped by a good man with a gun” idea about armed citizens simply doesn’t work in this situation. He had high ground, a massed group that could be devastated by unaimed fire, and a distance that negated hand-guns. Bim, bam, boom.   Horror show.     If the crowd had been armed with automatic rifles it wouldn’t have helped much, let alone handguns. Imagine hundreds of terrified people “returning fire” against a hotel wall of hundreds of rooms.  The death toll would have doubled.   And let’s not forget an unfortunately politicized reality…the identification.  Its not unreasonable to think Country Western fans skew more Right.  And if you are Right, you are more likely to see yourself, your neighbors, your children there than some other sorts of concerts.  You know perfectly well what I mean, and don’t pretend you don’t.  When the affected group is like you, it is Harder to “other.”  YOU could have been in that group.  Easily.  Helpless.
  4.  This is, in other words, a nuclear event, where the “the answer is an armed population” doesn’t work IN THIS INSTANCE for anyone sane. But that doesn’t mean that a person who admits that is interested in “giving up their guns.”
  5. Don’t be dishonest and say “no one wants to take your guns.”  Bullshit.  “No one”?  Are you kidding? All you have to do is scan FB feeds, and you’ll see people who are in favor of total gun confiscation.   THAT is the truth. Now…”there is no major political movement to take all guns” is probably true.    THAT can be defended and discussed. For God’s sake don’t pretent that there isn’t a difference.  If you lie, you lose the right to expect your opponent to tell the truth.
  6. And here is where the opening is.   Those willing to speak the truth, on Left or Right, who are willing to see the common humanity (“we both want to live. We both love our children”) who are willing to look into their own hearts (“we are both angry, because we are both afraid”) have the chance to put down their rhetorical weapons and look at the shared reality:
  7. BOTH WANT TO STOP MASS MURDERS.    And the safeguards currently in place, whether seen as “gun regulation” or “gun availability” both failed. In THIS instance, it is not, I believe, unreasonable to say that more guns in the hands of “good guys”  wouldn’t have helped a damned bit.  But if you don’t grasp that the “opposite side”  is listening and reading your threads, just as YOU are reading their threads and listening to THEIR threads, and they KNOW what some of your people are thinking…then lying about it is not only dishonest, it destroys the slender thread of trust that can lead to the future we want.
  8. What do we all want?  Happiness.  To have that, we all need some combination of security and freedom.  We ALL want our children to grow up and live happy lives.    Imagine a world with far more happiness, say two generations from now.   It is the result of decisions and actions taken by our children.  We don’t need to know what they are, as long as it leads to that Happiness, that balance of security and freedom.    Take your mind, for just a moment, off the fixed picture you have of what that balance might be. Or the need to be so egotistical that if YOU can’t think of an answer, or an answer hasn’t been found in your lifetime, there IS no answer.  Multi-generational problems can require multi-generational solutions.     Let our children work that out, if that’s what it takes.
  1. What WE can do is stop lying. Stop acting as if the people on the other side are our enemies. Why?  BECAUSE IT HASN’T WORKED.   Simple.  It.  Hasn’t. Worked.  Because it was based on politics (“How can we win?”) as opposed to philosophy (“what is true?”)  Stray from the path of truth, just one foot, and you lose the right to complain that your efforts don’t work.   If you decide to run east, you give up your right to see a sunset.   The truth is that you DO have extremists on each side who exemplify what the other side fears the most.  IF you’re one of ’em, you may be a good person. You may even be “right.”  But if you lie about it, I submit that I do not trust you, or anyone who lies about the fact that you are there.    The truth is that both sides think their approach leads to greater safety.  The truth is that we have a clear example of ONE SITUATION in which the theories on the Right don’t work.  One situation. Try to generalize from that and you had better qualify your words, and be VERY careful not to make “universal” statements which are great politically (your “side” will love that) but lead right back into gridlock.  Want more gridlock?   Just keep that shit up.
  2. So here is the answer:
    1. TELL THE TRUTH.   There are extremists on each side.  Admit it.  People who would take all guns. People who think they have the right to own a Nuke.    Yes, there really are.
    2. FIND COMMON GROUND.  What are the things we all can agree on?  We all want to live, and for our children to live.  Each side is afraid of the other’s approach, each interprets the same document to support their own position. 
    3. GET OUT OF YOUR EGO.  Because YOU don’t see the answer doesn’t mean there isn’t an answer.  It means that we may be too time-bound, culture-bound, politic-bound, history-bound and ego-bound to see it. Or simply not smart enough.  No one person, time, or culture has all the answers.  If this is the “Dark Night of the Soul” then the way through is the “Leap of Faith.” ONLY those with faith in themselves, their fellow citizens or a larger, greater pattern will guide us through.  The rest will fall back in an endlessly repeated, exhausting, and defeating “Road of Trials.”
    4. START WITH THE PIECE WE CAN SOLVE.  Find the loose thread in the Gordion Knot. Unravel as much as we can see, and trust tomorrow, and the next generation if necessary. That loose thread is: we are both afraid, we have common interests.
  3. NOW APPLY THE FIVE STEPS:
    1. Love yourself enough to agree that you’d rather live and be happy than be “right” according to yesterday’s definitions.  Get out of your ego.
    2. Love another human being enough to imagine horror happening to your child, your spouse, your brothers and sisters.    Now ask if counting coup on your “opponents” is worth the blood of those you love.
    3. Understand history without guilt, blame, or shame.   Also, grasp the Long View.  Human beings have resolved countless apparently insoluable problems.  Sometimes, often, usually, not within a single human lifetime.   Get over yourself. Your miserable little lifespan ain’t all that important.  Don’t sacrifice the future because you want it to happen NOW, immediately, before you take the dirt nap.   Maybe it can happen fast…but if so, those who facilitate that will be the ones who can see beyond their @#$$ ego-need to be “right.”
    4. Support your tribe.  In THIS instance, your “Tribe” is people who want that healthier, happier future, and is willing to focus on the future (happiness, security, freedom) rather than some particular opinion about the tools and strategies that can get us there.  People willing to speak the truth:  “I am afraid.  I want to live, and for my children to live.”   “On both sides there are extremists.  Because I tilt more toward them doesn’t mean they aren’t there, and I won’t lie about it any longer.”   “I can admit that the other side has valid concerns” and “it is possible for intelligent people of good will to interpret a 200 year old document differently” and “we must find a way to live together, and build a world that works for our children.”  People willing to come from love, and see their own soul looking out from the eyes of those they disagree with.
    5. Win.  With integrity and compassion.  Winning is reaching that future of greater happiness, freedom, and security.  I feel safe in saying that NEITHER OF US IS SMART ENOUGH TO DESCRIBE THE FULL PATH TO THAT FUTURE. But I believe I’ve detected the first step.  Just the first.  And if you take one step, you’ll see a little more clearly. And ONLY those who can take that step will mark the path that enables someone stronger, smarter, more honest to take two more. So that someone else can take three steps further. Musashi’s Thousand Mile Road.
  1. This won’t happen fast, because I don’t believe many people can do as I suggest. But just for a moment, imagine a world in which people could do as I’m suggesting.  Don’t you think they could, brainstorming among millions, find an answer?   Do you really think this is the worst problem humanity has faced?  If so, you never took Step #3.
  2. And what are the immediate advanages?  A decrease in the net amount of fear and anger in our culture. Which diminishes the amount of cause-based violence, and increases communication.  Which leads to brainstorming, which leads to answers undreamed of.   The “Tribe” of people willing to communicate honestly gets to grow.   I think they will make good neighbors for each other, even if they disagree.

 

That’s my answer.  The first step.   Meet each other with love, and honesty. Don’t give each other reason to INCREASE their fear or shame or guilt or anger.  That causes them to shut down.  You may feel better, but you have accomplished NOTHING.  But man, have you ever been “virtue signaling” to your side of the aisle.  “Showed ’em good!!”  Yeah.  Real good.

 

Those who lie, or scream, or cannot see the common humanity CANNOT be part of the discussion.  Let them sleep, or slither away. The monsters are crouching in hotel rooms, grinning down on the crowd.

Namaste,

Steven Barnes

www.lifewritingpremium.com

And A Little Child Shall Lead Them…

download-2.jpgdownload-1.jpg

Róisín Timmins O’Dea

 

Shared this note about her lovely daughter Saoirse Scott, the star of our short film “Danger Word” (slightly edited)

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“So ….i just read your post & thought I’d share this with you. I’m always proud of Saoirse and of course her siblings but she has recently given me reason to be extremely proud. ..  Yesterday Miss Saoirse Scott took a knee during the pledge of allegiance which led to a couple of other kids in her class to follow suit. Seems there were a couple of kids that found this to be offensive. I got a text from her this morning saying that she had been called to the principal’s office but that she was very respectful and that he told her he supported her right to kneel if she chose and that the kids in her class needed to be respectful of each other’s views even if they disagree. I’m not exactly sure of the road she’s on career wise but I know one thing for sure that she has the courage of her convictions and not in the least bit afraid to speak up for herself and what she believes in !! Proud Mom moment””

 

###

I’m proud too. The BEST reason I can see to oppose this notion is if you believe there is no real problem.   I might consider you asleep, but that is no sin.

The WORST reason to oppose it is if you approve of the violence.  Frankly, if you put up an infoglyph showing black-on-black violence without asking “why do people engage in self-destructive behavior” and concluding that depression, stress, and hopelessness does this to individuals as well as communities…if you give centuries of torture, murder, kidnapping, rape and brainwashing a pass but think 50 years of “Liberal Policies” are to blame…you have taken the crazy train, a frantic and pitiful attempt to support people trying to justify the mistakes of their ancestors.

##

I have to admit that if you defended armed Nazis marching, but criticize a child “taking a knee” in school, I’m going to assume you are not an ally.  May be asleep. May be a snake or monster.  But no, I don’t trust you.

My children’s lives are at stake, and I have no idea at all what YOU are fighting for, but it most certainly isn’t their well being.

 

Well done, Saoirse.  You want to know why the “knee” is so criticized? Because its working.  Want to know why people are struggling so hard to change the subject? To say it is about something other than the simple fear that your children are dying?

Because once you wake up, and speak the truth, you can’t go back.   This movement has no leaders, and that is what is terrifying to the status quo.  You can assassinate individuals.   You cannot assassinate the truth–all you can do is try to drown it out in a morass of lies and distractions, hide a gold needle in a stack of brass needles.

Focus. Focus.  WATCH THEM TRY TO DISTRACT AND CHANGE THE SUBJECT. Do NOT argue with them once they show their hand.    Instead, nurture and support those who are awake enough to see the truth.  Be compassionate: the anger is fear, terror that if the truth is known they will be under threat.  Deal with the hatred in your heart, so that you can genuinely extend love rather than anger.

And…speak the truth.  Don’t let anyone change the subject.

Do you notice people are waking up?   Memes are powerful.  THIS is why I write.  Ideas change emotions, emotions drive actions, actions change the world.

 

 

Write with Passion, Live with Purpose

Steve

http://www.lifewritingpremium.com

 

How to heal a blind spot

My goal is One Million Awake, Aware, Adult human beings. The way to this is to support thousands of “Lifewriters” who grasp the connection between myth and consciousness. Their specific path of awakening is that five-step process:

  1. Love yourself
  2. Love at least one other person
  3. Understand history without guilt, blame, or shame.
  4. Support your tribe
  5. Win with integrity and compassion

###

What about attacking your enemies?   Very sparingly, and in defense of your tribe.   I’m not saying that you NEVER  strike first: there are situations where the overall context is one of aggression (say, the occupation of a country) such that an individual act of violence against an occupying soldier is considered justified by most.  The morality here is tricky, and to me the simplest way to determine if you are in the right is to ask if you are willing to accept punishment for your action.   This is in alignment with MLK’s passive resistance: you are prepared to go to jail.  This isn’t enough to guarantee morality, but I’m not sure anything is.

But we all know that active resistance is a very real factor, and determining the morality involved in an action against another human being is one of the core questions every civilization has struggled with.

##

My position is that EVEN IF YOU ARE CORRECT, most of the people who will oppose you are not “bad”, or “stupid”–they are asleep, in a very specific sense.  And that “sleeping” behavior is incredibly powerful, and I think one of the major factors in human history and society.  And it is why I have more emphasis on supporting the people who are “awake” than flogging those who are “asleep.”

 

We’re ALL asleep one way or another.  We need to be kind to each other, if we wish to be treated kindly.

 

##

 

I recently had a conversation, the precise content of which I don’t want to go into.  Let’s just say that I saw a tremendous amount of denial-based “sleeping”  going on.    Dishonesty?  Perhaps.  But I come to think that what I was seeing was a human tendency that hits us in many different arenas in many aspects of life.  I wanted to get my thoughts out without undo polarization, so I’ll go forward without specific reference to the conversation.

##

  1. The entire thing makes sense if I merely strengthen a pre-existing assumption:   Logic and memory function to support underlying beliefs and the powerful emotions connected with them.  The illusion is that they generally CREATE our most basic beliefs.  Those, I increasingly suspect, are given to us in the crib.  It is VERY rare for them to function to question and revise them.  If facts are contrary to beliefs, you must change the underlying belief FIRST before the average person can evaluate the data.
  2. Contrary to common sense, this is not contrary to survival, as there are multi-year, multi-generational patterns where if you cannot see the complete cycle, the average information is rarely indicative of the overall pattern. Cultural wisdom (often contained in myth and tradition) over generations is therefore often at variance with individual current  human experience and observation.  So we are evolved (genetically?  Socially?  Both, I’m sure) to bend observed facts to our inculcated personal and (especially) cultural beliefs, rather than changing beliefs to match current observations.
  3. Combine this with the notion that we are set up, from the simplest neurological level, to avoid pain and seek pleasure.  Way deeper than logic.  And so important that I suspect the standard unconscious instructions are: DELETE INFORMATION THAT WOULD CREATE PAIN.
  4. For instance: Arguing about evolution is absurd if the person you are arguing with stands to lose something (metaphysical certainty, for instance) if evolution is “real.” You would first need to see if  the following question would be answered “yes”:    “if evolution is true, would this effect your belief in God?”
  5.  If the answer is yes, this is not an argument you can win.  If on the other hand, you FIRST get them to question whether it is necessary to reject evolution to believe in God, and they agree that they are not incompatible beliefs, NOW you can have the next conversation–because you are not asking them to lose something precious. Now they can look at the facts.
  6. How many arenas would this effect operate in?  I’d say weight, politics, relationships, history, current events.  When you are dealing with someone who seems to be deleting information or distorting reality, back up and find out if they can afford to change their minds: what would be the pain of admitting that X is true?  If you cannot demonstrate that there is greater pleasure than pain associated with absorbing the information, your likelihood of success is greatly reduced.
  7. To make this useful, you have to use it on yourself.  What beliefs have you held onto in the face of current information?  How long did you hold onto it?  What did you have to delete to hold onto it?
  8. For instance: Belief: I am not deserving of a good relationship.  My Mommy and Daddy told me/demonstrated this.  This wars with the urge for intimacy.  So you find relationships with people where the initial passion is great, but they blow up after a while. To change the pattern would require
    1. Believing you are worth it
    2. Admitting Mom and Dad were wrong/dysfunctional
    3. Admitting it is possible to find a loving relationship
    4. Being willing to destroy your current self image to take a new one. This means accepting death, and believing in rebirth (“Can people change?”)
  9. See what a mess this is, if accurate? We form beliefs, the beliefs filter our reality (we don’t believe there are better relationships than Mommy and Daddy had), if confronted with better relationships, we simply don’t absorb the information: they are shams.  If they AREN’T shams, we have to deal with the possibility that we don’t deserve one of them.  Or that Mommy and Daddy were wrong.
  10. Easier to believe that such relationships simply don’t exist, that the “good” men/women/loving sheep just aren’t out there any more.  And, of course, you can easily find “pity parties” wiling to support you in your blindness.
  11. I’m not sure where I’m going with this.  I just think that if you are discussing any subject that touches underlying survival  or pleasure/pain  drives, if the person you are speaking to  would suffer if they said “yes” to your question, they will say “no” about 99% of the time.

 

You must first clear the way to them feeling LESS pain if they say “yes” to your question. Think THAT through first…and you can create an ally.

 

Namaste,

Steve

 

(for extra credit: as a mental exercise, Make a list of the apparently intractable social/political arguments, or personal problems that make sense when viewed through this lens.  It scary enough that I don’t want to tilt the conversation)

The implications of this idea to Afrofuturism should be rather obvious.  www.afrofuturismwebinar.com.

Seeking Magic

Some fifty years ago, when I attended Mount Vernon Junior High school, I was just a gentle, poetry-reading pot-bellied little four-eyed nerd.   And Rudy, the toughest bully in the school decided that I had narked on him, and that he would beat the hell out of me after school.

 

Rudy, his brother Oliver and two or three of his friends followed me home, punching and spitting on me as I hunched over my books, praying that one of the cars driving past would stop, that a driver would see what was happening and save me.

 

No one saved me.  No help was coming.  But it was killing me inside, that sense of utter helplessness.

 

If I didn’t fight, he’d shatter what little sense of being a “Man” I had.

 

If I did fight, he’d beat me up worse.

 

If by some miracle I beat him, I’d have to fight his big brother and his friends.

 

There was no way to win.  But something cracked inside me, and I put my books down and walked out into the middle of Washington Boulevard and stood on the double yellow lines with cars whizzing past on both sides, drivers who hadn’t stopped to help now screaming at this small, crying boy to get the hell out of the street.

 

Rudy and his friends looked at me without comprehending. And I looked at him, and I said:   “come out here and do that.”

 

If he’d come out, I was going to push him in front of a car.  I was going to do my level best to kill him, or die trying.

 

And he looked at me, and I looked at him, and he said: “aw man…that nigger’s crazy.”  And walked away.

 

And never bothered me again.  Because he had pushed me beyond social rules.   This wasn’t a game any more.    He blinked first.

 

I walked back to the sidewalk, picked up my books, and went home, in a strange kind of fugue state.  I knew I had found something extraordinary. Something I’d seen in movies, a place from which heroes can do amazing things. I’d thought it was a myth.

 

And knew I had to do anything, ANYTHING to learn how to enter that space at will.  Because there…you are ready to die, and ready to take your tormentor with you. And in that space…?

 

The one least willing to die will lose.

 

The next twenty years were filled with both wonder and frustration, realizing that the martial arts were the closest analogue I could find, but that the American version of it never seemed to have EVERYTHING–the physical AND the mental AND the emotional/spiritual techniques.  That I was going to have to seek out the pieces of the puzzle and fit them together in a way that would work for me.

 

What did I want?  To be happy, and healthy, and loved, and successful, and capable of helping the people around me.

 

The fear I felt there at thirteen was physical,  but it’s the same stuff I had to deal with in my career, in learning to trust my own instinct, in believing that there was a place for me somewhere in the world.

 

It took TWENTY MORE YEARS to learn the first technique that really opened my mind and heart.  And when I learned it, it was so simple that it blew my mind. There really are secrets. There really are hidden “Magics” so effective that if you don’t know them, you can batter at the walls of your heart like someone pushing on a door marked “pull.”

 

One whisper, from the right person, at the right time, can make all the difference.

 

Fear is the root of most of the negative experiences in your life. Learning to master it, or at least not to be ashamed of it, is critical for any adult human being, but artists can face it without ever being forced to admit that it is a factor in their creative blocks, their inability to create, finish, submit, or market their work.

 

None of that for Lifewriters!  This is the reason we included the Emotional Mastery tools with the AFROFUTURISM class. And why I’m working so hard to bring every tool I can, so that you can rise as far as your heart can lift you.

 

One tool was simply too powerful for me to teach. Its taken me years to get the man who taught it to me to share it in a format anyone can understand and use.

 

##

 

 

Yesterday I recorded a lecture for the “Spiritual Entrepreneur” mini-course with Mushtaq Ali Al Ansari, my Sufi friend and mentor.   The intent is to help break the negative beliefs around money and marketing, but also to show how, if you BEGIN with the intent to help, heal, transform, that sales and marketing are a public service. How else will people learn about your art, your skills, the effort and genius you’ve put into creating your  offers?

 

We’re using the Enneagram, a “paper computer” that shows the actual structure inside a process.  Genius stuff, and the Western world understands about 1% of it: the “personality”.  In other words, the part of it that resembles a horoscope.

 

I plan to change that.  Knowledge is easy, but  WISDOM is hard.  I think we might give away some free copies of this amazing technology this Saturday on AFROFUTURISM: LIVE.   Maybe.   Got to think about it…

 

This is powerful stuff.  Hidden wisdom.

 

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic…

 

 

Namaste

Steve

“It is better to subdue a country whole and intact than to destroy it completely. It is better to win when your enemy surrenders without giving you a fight.”–Sun Tsu THE ART OF WAR

 

 

I said “we’re winning” a couple of days ago, in relation to racism.  And a reader asked if this was not a dangerous way to look at it.  “Winning” to this reader implied war. Am I going to war against my fellow citizens?

 

The reply is that “winning” can be applied to a game, or a debate.   What I didn’t say were some other things:

  1. If I win, that doesn’t mean that you lose.   If the point is to get to Disneyland, and you think Route A is better, and I convince you Route B is better, and we later discover that the bridge A was wiped out, who wins?  If you think “winning” is “convincing the car to take my route” then you have lost. But…is that a valid definition?   Wasn’t Route A just a means to an end?  Isn’t your END to get to Disneyland?  In that case…didn’t we ALL win, once you release your ego?
  2. In other words, if we speak to determine what is true, and our commitment is to truth, if truth wins we all win.  If we have a commitment to a point of view, the view itself can seem to be the END rather than the MEANS.
  3. Proposed: the meaning of life is to be happy.
  4. All goals are just a means to this end: “If I do X, I will be happy.”
  5. An accurate map is critical to being happy–it allows us to navigate.
  6. Incorrect information will therefore ultimately be contrary to happiness.
  7. Sometimes, incorrect information will give temporary pleasure.  But truth is always ultimately preferable.
  8. Proposed: Racism is an incorrect view of the world.  Therefore it might give temporary pleasure (an easy answer to complex world issues, sense of superiority, political leverage, an excuse for selfishness) but it will give ultimate pain.
  9. Therefore, even IF there is a war, it is not a war on the citizens of the country.  It is a war of ideas, a war of perspectives.  “We are winning” when we help our fellow citizens dispel an illusion, so that our country can thrive by utilizing all citizens to their highest levels.
  10. Those who believe the incorrect ideology will believe that the “illusion of equality” can only be produced by government pressure.  Note that this position can motivate them to ally themselves with others who believe in “Small Government” for other, more moral reasons.  A political bloc is formed.
  11. To be careful, then, the rights of such people must be respected in the political version of the Hyppocratic Oath: “First, Do No Harm.” Their rights to free speech and assembly must be respected, but they must also be prevented from hurting others, or swelling into a force that can be poisoned into mass violence.  Finding this balance is one of the most difficult things for a free society.
  12. But IF racism is viewed as a disease, then the “war” is with the illness, not the patient.   The highest good would be to support rule of law, protect rights, AND NURTURE THE PEOPLE OF GOOD WILL rather than attack the sick.  Triage.  While maintaining strength (to protect children from snakes and monsters), offer friendship and love.   If you REALLY believe that racism is a flawed theory of humanity, then it is a warped reality map.  That means that such people should be lost more often. In more pain. Show them the way out.
  13. What is the pain?  Guilt about the past.  Fear of retaliation.  Greed that reparations might be demanded. Self-doubt to realize that all the accomplishments of your life were supported by an advantage (this is no more implausible than the notion that a person born into the U.S. will have a higher average net worth than someone born into a poor country anywhere in the world. Do you really think you are automatically a better, smarter person?  Or are there advantages that have nothing to do with your genes or personal energies?)
  14. Fear. One way or another, all of it is fear.  And the antidote for fear is Faith.  What does the Hero’s Journey suggest? That the way through the Dark Night is Faith in yourself, faith in your companions, or faith in a higher power.
    1. In yourself.  That you don’t need to deny you’re standing on a ladder.  Your attention should be on growing as tall as you can, and standing as straight as you can.   Some are born on ladders, others in holes.   Be grateful for your blessings, and philosophical about your damages.  Model success, and keep your eyes on the ball: a happy life of growth, contribution and Self-knowledge
    2. In your companions. If you believe that, if the world were reversed, you would seek revenge, want to kill or damage, you are feeling from your fear/survival place.  Understandable.  But that will be the world you experience.   If you can learn to touch the love in your heart, committing to protecting yourself FIRST and then bonding to others, you’ll see that you are safe not because you are angry or fearful, but because the fear motivates you to pay attention. The attention is necessary. The fear is optional. The anger actually creates more violence, because it triggers fear in others.   Find the love in yourself, and it is easy to educe love in others.  But remember…it must come from strength. You will be tested by predators, seeking weakness. They know that you can peel off members of their herd.  THEIR kingdom must be isolated.  But their citizens can be welcomed into the community of the open-hearted.  BUT THEY MUST KNOW THEY ARE SAFE if they drop their guard.    Do NOT expect them to drop that guard if you plan to sucker-punch them.  Do you think they are stupid?
    3. In a higher power.   We all have some sense of the nature of reality. The ethical structure of the universe.  Those who believe that there is something positive about the working of that reality can have faith in that process. Those who believe that humans are basically evil, the world is pure chaos, or that God played racial favorites will not be able to take comfort here.  If you have a believe system that embraces the light, and can live your life with power and grace, you will attract some of those citizens of a fearful nation, and some will change faith.  If you really believe in that orderly universe, you will be able to have patience with the others.

 

Its tricky.

For love to win, fear has to die, or subside. People who identify with their fear and anger will see it as an attack on THEM, and on what they believe keeps them safe.  They may have to change an entire world view, an entire interpretation of history.  It shifts political alliances, and they may fear that (“how can I accomplish X unless I have Y’s support? I’ll hold my nose and vote.”)   That’s the world of politics. Those who grasp that, and can play that, can win elections.

 

What do we do?  Trust the process of time. This is multi-generational stuff.  It has taken generations to move the ball this far across the field.  I have faith that the majority see what I see, but the minority is vocal, and afraid, and frightened people will do anything, like drowning swimmers will drag down life-guards.

 

Unless you are a hell of a swimmer, keep your feet on dry ground.  Life a happy life. Love your children and neighbors.  And keep a life-line ready to throw to the drowning.   “If I trust you…will you hurt me?” Is the question under the question.  Listen with your heart.

 

And remember that you too labor in illusions. Different illusions. That we need others to point out to us.  One of those people you extend compassion to might well save YOU one day.

 

We’re all living in glass houses.  I’d rather throw lifelines than stones.

 

 

Namaste,

Steve

http://www.lifewritingpremium.com

Apologies for the “racism” post. I was wrong.

I may have over-thought the question about racism and evil.  And I think I know where I went wrong.  The absolute nature of something in its laboratory form, or the purest expression of an idea may be neutral, the practical expression of it goes one way or the other. There IS no perfect balance in the real world. You’re always wobbling one direction or the other.

 

Then…why did I say that racism wasn’t evil?  Because in that laboratory/pure thought sense it is   just an opinion that can be gathered by looking at math on a sheet of paper.

 

But why would I not ask the question: “what usually flows from this? What are the average consequences of this?  How much positive as opposed to negative flows from this?”  Because if I had looked at those things, I’d have seen that the AVERAGE, TYPICAL result of actions flowing from a thing determines the morality of a thing more than the “pure” thought-experiment.

 

And what is evil?   My position is that it is the interjection of chaos into order, specifically that which increased danger or pain for children.    Viewed that way, we’re asking what the typical human response, cross-culturally, to an action might be.  Philosophies filter reality and create emotions. Emotions motivate actions.

 

So practically, I cannot separate them. But…why didn’t I see that?  And I think I know.

 

Simply put, if I define racism as assigning different levels of human capacity or value or morality to different groups based on race or ethnicity (and I do), then I have to admit that this is so widespread that it is safer to assume it universal than rare.  I’d guess that only 10-20% of people have it STRONGLY but it sits as a filter, exists in pre-assumptions, influences choices in business, entertainment, law enforcement, politics and personal life so often that, again, it is safest to assume its like the puppets in “Avenue Q” say: “Everybody’s a little bit racist” and that the denial of that perspective facilitates it.   That I choose the Liberal side of politics in large part because they acknowledge this, and “lean into it” just a little.  Good Conservatives are more likely to say “I don’t see race.”

If you think its not there, it gets you while you ain’t looking.  I don’t know how much therapeutic or meditative work it takes to get beyond it, but if you haven’t done a thousand hours of it, I think its safest to assume the disease is lurking in your marrow, waiting for you to believe you can stop taking chemo.

 

Worse, the actual monsters use the “laboratory” version (“its just a concept. An opinion.”) to convince people that its not evil…even if most of the fruits of it certainly are.  Even if a vast, overwhelming amount of pain in my own life has flowed from it, even if I’ve watched it destroy lives and give nothing back, even if it motivated most of the “holocaust” level events I’m aware of: German, American, whatever.

 

Why did I make that error? Because I love people.  Simple. And I see so much of it, even in people I respect, who have been mentors, lovers, students, friends, neighbors, role models.   So much, like an ocean of sewage.  I couldn’t consider all of them, and the country I love, tainted without feeling such existential loneliness and isolation, such despair and fatigue, that it might have defeated me.  I just wasn’t strong enough.

 

And if I created the attachments to those people as a younger man, or even as a boy, I couldn’t make the fine distinctions I can make today.   Couldn’t say: “this is a human evil.  It is in our hearts, and in some of us it is a raging fire. But there is nothing it gives that is even 1% as powerful as what it takes.  It is a spark humanity would be better extinguishing.  It leads to fear, not peace.  Hate, not love.  It makes the world more dangerous to children, not less.”

 

Absolutely true?  No.   And a bit of that is “faith based” in the sense that I’m taking the position that the basic assumptions of racism are incorrect.   That means that I MUST, as a philosopher, leave open the door to: “but they might be right.”   Black people MIGHT be less intelligent.  White people MIGHT be weaker and less moral.  Its possible.  Yeah, it is.

 

But that’s not what I believe.  Not how I live.  I am strong enough, clear enough, to take another step, and it is only relationships formed before I matured in that sense kept me tied to that old but needed mode of thought.

As a philosopher, I have the luxury of living in a world of pure thought. But I also live in a world of politics, in which a comment can be taken out of context like a bacteria taken out of a laboratory.  Is botulism evil?   In a test-tube, no. It is just a life form.  In your daughter’s oatmeal?   For all practical purposes, it is the very definition of evil.  Any human being who DELIBERATELY introduced it into that oatmeal is going to be considered evil by 99.9% of people on the planet.  The rest are snakes and monsters.

 

Speaking of its neutrality becomes like one of those scientists who insist that Godzilla must be captured and studied, as Big G wrecks Tokyo. We KNOW he is out to lunch, and can’t wait to see how he reacts after his cute little daughter is reduced to ashes.  Now he’s the one who will die taking the Oxygen Destroyer into Tokyo Bay.    He sees how his urge to be a Big-S “Scientist” has crippled his common sense.

 

Could my words be used to hurt people? Yes, they could.  Children? Yes, they could.   

“Is it true?  Is it useful?  Is it kind?” are the three filters I am committed to.

 

And the relation of truth, usefulness, and kindness compared to the spawning of lies, abuse, and horror are, in this case, at best, like the skin of an apple compared to the flesh. If the flesh is rotten, it doesn’t matter if the skin is shiny and beautiful.  If someone asks “is that apple rotten?” they aren’t asking: “is it 100% rotten”.  They are asking if it is rotten for all practical purposes. Would I give it to my son or daughter to nourish them.

 

Viewed that way, you can try so hard to be fair, so hard to be philosophical, that you become an idiot.

The people I love, the country I love, has been poisoned by this belief pattern.  It is a toxic outgrowth of tribalism, and must be rooted out of our society, even as we love and cherish the individuals within, evil if they are carriers.

That doesn’t mean we let them infect our children, however.  How to do that and protect the freedoms we hold dear is one of the most important discussions any culture can have, a sober matter for awakened adults.  Not frightened children, and not philosophers who can’t get their heads out of their butts.

 

It is enough to say that good people can have a sickness in them, to love who they have the potential to be, and see their anger as fear, and do all I can to communicate to their hearts. Yes I can.

 

But…I was wrong about this one.  And I’m sorry.  As much as anything can be that bridges the worlds of pure thought and human action, racism is evil.

 

 

Namaste,

Steve

http://www.lifewritingpremium.com

Thoughts on “Tunnel In the Sky” and diversity

I saw a thread asking about diversity, specifically non-white characters in SF.   A response mentioned Rod in “Tunnel In The Sky” and that there was an essay saying that although his race is never mentioned specifically, “it is obvious in retrospect” that he is black.

 

I think this is horsecrap.  In fact, I cannot find a single reason to believe it at all that doesn’t make the situation worse.  Here’s my basic premise:

 

  1. Human beings create mythologies that place them as central to existence.
  2. SF is modern mythology
  3. There is great pain around the issue of race in America, and the mythology of black inferiority was the standard accepted belief until the late 20th century.
  4. Human beings re-write their personal or national history to make it less painful.

 

Look, I adored Mr. Heinlein’s writing. And meeting and working with him was one of the high  points of my life. But he was just a man of his time, and times were bad.  If you don’t grasp that, I have to wonder what you make of differential incarceration and inherited worth statistics.  In fact, no, I don’t wonder at all.

 

Let me examine this:

 

 

1) There is a Zulu girl, Caroline, who is described clearly. Rod mentions at one point that Caroline reminds her of his sister. There are a half-dozen reasons she might do that: her intelligence, energy, speech patterns, aggression, whatever.  On what planet would the notion “she reminds me of my sister” mean race? A planet on which race is the most important indicator?  What does that imply about the person who says it? Writes it?  What is the label for a person who would only be reminded of a member of his family if the other person is the same race?

  1.  Rod is also described as “getting a tan” at one point. Right. A Zulu (or someone as dark as one) would think “I’m getting a tan” without other comment.
  2. The covers of every edition of that book had white guys on it.  Blame the artist, right. No! Blame the art department.  No…the marketers. Or, like happened with “Streetlethal” its all the fault of the truck drivers who put the books on the stands.  No, wait, it’s the fans!  But…if you ask the fans, they’ll say that THEY don’t care what race the characters are.   Which means…IT’S NOBODY’S FAULT.  Its just a big mistake, don’t you see?
  3. Mr. Heinlein understood very very well that young people need role models to guide their growth.  IF you think that the fans would reject a black hero, and gave a damn about nurturing those excluded young minds…then you create a strong secondary character.  If you care.  If you don’t care, fine, that’s o.k.  But you don’t get to go back and try to rehabilitate an ugly omission later.
  4. If I was to believe this story: that Rod’s race wasn’t mentioned clearly, because of the era in which the book was written…IF you care about those young readers and believe that white readers really wouldn’t have accepted a black hero, you have to know that that means that it would be harder for them to extract the valuable lessons if they have to jump a conceptual hurdle (“he looks different!” or “he’s one of those people descended from slaves, and that means X and/or Y.”)   IF YOU CARE you at some point say: “listen, you changed the race of my character. Change it back.” If you don’t, you make some clear, widely-distributed public comment.   If you don’t…you don’t care. And if you don’t care…why should I think you are any different, on that count, from Hollywood excluding black people or Washington having an all-white Senate?   Why in the world shouldn’t I conclude that this was the way society worked, and anything else is trying to pretend the playing field was remotely level?
  5. SF fans would love to believe that their beloved genre was immune to the same human sicknesses we can see all over the world, through every strata of society.  But no. For whatever reason, the mystery field (for instance) has been much more open to diversity, with iconic black characters like Coffin Ed Johnson, Gravedigger Jones, Alex Cross, Shaft, Virgil Tibbs and more.  Heck, Mr. Moto and Charlie Chan for that matter.  Why more open? I can’t say, really, but its noticible.
  6. If I had to make a guess (and this is HIGHLY speculative)…knowing that John W. Campbell, a dear friend of Mr. Heinlein, was an out and out racist, I’m gonna bet that Mr. Heinlein had a more nuanced view of things. Was of the CONSCIOUS opinion that we couldn’t be sure, even as he pulled against the Bell Curve idea held by Campbell that blacks couldn’t create a technologically advanced civilization.   If I had to guess, I’d take a look at the very few black characters he DID create, and notice that a disproportionate number of them seemed to be African. That’s interesting, as most of his heroes and characters are just Americans. Why might he do that?  Well…there is a theory I’ve heard among the race-is-destiny crowd that I’m sure they consider very “liberal.”   It is that, well, maybe Africans are just as smart, but only the DUMB ones were caught and enslaved…that theory could lead to a tendency to represent Africans more than African-Americans…but as I said, that is the kind of speculation that has zero evidence.  It just makes the hair on the back of my neck twitch.  Just a bit..
  7. In short, if your clearest depiction of black people is “Farnham’s Freehold”, a book that makes “The Turner Diaries” look like “Roots”, you need something more than vague inference to balance that scale.  Mr. Heinlein’s work was central to my early development, and I searched desperately for anything that looked like me. And to have people say that I should have just looked harder is pretty insulting to that young reader. And to have editors say that maybe there weren’t black characters because “black people aren’t interested in SF” is horribly self-serving.   I’d say that we love SF as much or more than any white people, because those of us who read it read it IN SPITE OF the fact that we weren’t represented, since representation seems to be so critically important.  After all, it was the fans who demanded all the characters be like them (if human), right?  No?  Then we’re back in that circle-jerk: everyone saying its someone else’s fault.  If you believe that, I have a bridge for you.    If a problem exists that is behavior-based, and its no one’s conscious fault, then its everyone’s unconscious tendency.

 

 

Trying to make the Golden Age of SF seem more inclusive is a sad struggle.  It wasn’t.  Move on and lets do better in the future.  Our heroes were wonderful…but they were only human. And humans are tribal.