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Individual and Collective Tension

 A smart person, an engineer, once told me, “I don’t ask ‘why’ questions.” I replied, “Really. For me, those are the only questions worth asking.” Given this polar opposite in world-view, I wonder if there is any conversation worth having, people want to communicate and reach a mutually agreeable conclusion. If one person says the sky is blue, and another says it is black, and a third says it is grey, what are the meanings in the varying perceptions?

To the viewer of daylight, behind the statement is the observation of the sky when one-half the planet earth is turning away from earth’s sun. The black sky is seen when the planet has rotated one-half turn, and the sun is not a major factor in the view. The person who observes a grey sky is “in daylight,” but under a canopy of clouds and rainstorms.

I watched three TV broadcasts that inform the public, and encourage individuals to draw conclusions, and make decisions in their best interest. An NBC Sunday morning presentation, “Meet the Press,” is  longstanding, and makes an effort to invite informed citizens across different persuasions to expound and discuss ideas on society—in this case, the conglomerate of geographically assembled citizens in the US of A. Two newer programs are a few clicks away: MSNBC, a cable presentation of NBC recently began programs hosted by a bright, young, Chris Hayes, and political scientist, Melissa Harris Perry. Both “fresh faces” have gained media presence because they are informed, articulate, and physically appealing—a necessity in this society. Hayes’ program has been around for a few weeks, Harris-Perry began new weekend program.

Both programs “schedule” a number of liberal-progressive guests, unlike the network that I have heard schedules, almost, exclusively conservative-reactionary guests. Theoretically, the public has access across a spectrum of social, political, and economic ideas. In theory, this is so.

Across that spectrum I uncovered basic grounds for understanding and evaluating these programs. I have limited time, and do not want to waste it in comprehending and deciphering copious information-material. What is a fair perch from which to follow arguments and evaluations? For me, this perch is what is the image, role and   of the relationship of people in and as a society-culture-tribe-nation?  Civilized citizens, we operate as individuals within the conglomerate, that is made of governed and governors.

Perception, comprehension, and acceptance of what those roles, vision, adherence, loyalty and support means to us, flows upward to the governors, outward—or downward–to the governed.. The aspects that undergird the support and nourish this flow hinges on, or is determined by whether a society-tribe is open, accepting, and committed to those who are governed, or whether the governed deny admittance.

Curiosity, lack of fear, openness to the governed fosters organization, laws-rules, and processes that are people oriented and directed. Fear, self-involvement, and hostility flow in the opposite direction. The second predisposition can, currently be called “privatization.” Code for what’s mine is mind, what’s yours is mine, or will be as soon as I can gain control of it. This tendency is seen in the “privatization” of schools and jails, the primary structures of control in a society, the loss of privacy in a “Homeland Security” status. Other facets of the tendency reside in male domination, control by the minority of the species. One would think that the only authority principles among humans are a trinity of male-God philosophies, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Male domination is found in non-deist cultures in, now, remote areas of the planet. The authoritarian concept is, in the view of many observers and scholars, a major component of the widespread war status, degradation of the physical planet, and diminishing of cultural variety. The assumption that emerges in the three watched televised programs is that one or a variation of the male dominated philosophy-belief structure is all there is. The ease with which this assumption holds across cultures is the tension that denies, controls, and is defeating its polarity, a feminine, open, accepting, supportive curiosity that, on first impulse would be like many animals, an approach, and smell.  Scent is the natural odor of self-presentation. The body part inspected is the orifice of mouth to genital. I have watched many episodes of the Cesar Milan show, “Dog Whisperer,” on National Geographic Wild. This is what I have learned about fellow animals. Approach or withdrawal depends on the sense of self that the stranger presents at the most basic level, nose, and mouth to genital area.

The removal of body odors for inspection has destroyed the opportunity to “get to know” the other. This lack reinforces a deep instinctual fear. Humans have lost a prime, essential means of communication. I am not suggesting that humans must literally approach our seeming adversaries, Chinese, Muslims, jails, schools, etc. sniff them and gage interaction on those bases.  Most of us have decided that these odors are unpleasant. A project called “Tribal Wives,” where European and American women reside in tribal villages in places like South Africa and Ethiopia to learn how their women cope with life. An initial comment is always on “the odors.” By the time the visitors return to their comfortable homes, they no longer are repulsed by the unusual odors. All people keep their bodies clean, by their standards, like a cat or dog grooming themselves. The visiting women do not convey to the tribal wives as “smelling good—Chanel $5. Our problem is that humans have not developed an equal coping mechanism to replace the initial “sniff.” The privatization of all things private is destroying the species, and we do not learn from nature or technology.


About Gwendoline Y. Fortune

Gwen Fortune was born in Texas, reared in South Carolina, entered Bennett College at age 15, and has been an "academic tramp" ever since She lived in Chicago and Skokie, IL during marriage, family and first career. Academic degrees are BA, MS, M. Ph, and Ed. D. She was tenured professor of History at Oakton Community College, consultant in Ethnic Studies at Loyhola U, and exchange professor at College of Lake County. She began writing professionally after divorce, and has devoted her time to fiction, non-fiction and poetry. Her published historical novels are Growing Up Nigger Rich and Family Lines. She writes daily, reflecting on socio-economic-political and multi-racial/cultural ideas. She loves mental challenge and her three extraordinary granddaughters. Why this blog? I am a "political animal." I view human interactions as political exchanges. What does one person, or one nation, offer, and what does the other person, or nation, receive? What seems to be gained, and/or lost, and WHY? I comment of what comes to awareness and share observations and thoughts. We discuss--without rancor, ridicule or nastiness-or we part company. Mind-emotion and essence-spirit are invited to participate. The cue is in the post.

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