History is part of an unchangeable timeline.
What is done, is done.
Who we once were can serve as a sentinel and warn us of places where we have failed as living things, or provide us with insight on our successes. History is important, and while it is fixed and immutable, it is also very much an incomplete story.
Of late, there’s been a move to not just re-enact historical events, but to completely change the narrative to suit very narrow interests. The persons and organizations pushing to do this are hoping that nobody will remember the more accurate depiction of how things turned out, and buy into a more tolerated version, a more beneficent image of a time gone by, a view compatible with how we live now in our relative comfort and ease.
Much of past history was not fun.
A lot of it was painful.
The boat above was crewed by men who lived for months on board, in cramped conditions, on waters that could destroy the vessel. Now, with better technology available, and rescue ships and helicopter airlifts possible, re-enactment of the sailing of a ship like this is truly an “everyman” adventure.
But in its time, vessels like this were not lovely and kind places to live.
We used tall ships not only to bring us merchandise and goods from the Old World to the new, but we also brought people.
Some paid for passage.
Some were stowaways.
Some arrived as indentured servants.
Some were brought over as the merchandise.
Recently on Facebook a user provided a reminder of a time gone by when we collected and shipped humans in boats like these (courtesy Pedro E. Alvarado, posted Feb 17 2023). It was a copy of a bill proclaiming “Negroes for Sale,” dated April 12th, 1848, in Charleston, South Carolina:
Here’s a picture of the likely place from which the slaves were sold:
Slavery — human trafficking — persists in many forms in our world.
That doesn’t make it right.
But attempting to portray the practice as something other than what it was and what it continues to be is just plain wrong.
We have to live with that reality.
We engaged in the practice. We brought slaves to our shores to do very hard work, and to become part of the wealth profile of a very few.
We treated humans as less than so.
The 1619 Project (www.nytimes.com/...) also more completely describes the trafficking of slaves to our shores, and it is worth taking a look at this telling of history. The project is very controversial, even though the fact stands that slavery was an American reality (www.politico.com/...
Denial and lying about things is not uncommon. We want to be thought well of by our peers, and we alter the truth to suit our needs within those peer groups. But writing an alternative narrative that says people came here of their own volition is simply not true.
We simply do not want to go back and visit the ugly reality of who we separately and collectively are.
Please do not be upset by reality. We also slaughtered native populations, so as to settle the land with our own line. We enacted a war against one another in defense of the notion of cheap labor and a lesser strain of humanity (HINT: Don’t kid yourself — the name “Civil War” is laughable, because war is always hostile!). We've gone back to our European roots twice to "fight the good fight", three times if you consider Kosovo, four times if you add in the current Ukrainian crisis. We’ve gone into Southeast Asia to fight wars, both overtly and clandestine. We fought in Korea. We fought our way across the Pacific. We went into the Middle East and Afghanistan at a ridiculously high price and an dreadfully long time.
We also tolerated abuses to Japanese people, with whom we were at war. Prior to the invasion of Europe and the liberation of the Nazi death camps, America had buried its head in the sand and had done nothing to acknowledge the struggle and suffering of European Jewry or express its outrage over the systematic extermination of Jews, Poles, Catholics, mentally ill, people we now call LGBTQ, Romani and many other nationalities.
We did the wrong things, and quietly assented to brutal cruelty.
We’ve put men, machinery and life on the line any number of times. We take up arms rather easily. We tell ourselves a good tale in order to justify doing something terrible, horrible and awful.
No, I am not a pacifist. Humans do what is necessary. It is ugly at times.
The value of recording history is not to blame, set responsibility, assign guilt or innocence, make people feel bad because of what ancestors did to one another.
The value of recording history, and adding to it when we see deficits in the story, is to be certain we don’t leave things out that should be known.
We've expressed hatred of the immigrant, even though most of us are descended from one wave or another, and once here our ancestors couldn't wait to re-establish old ways, old habits, old customs and the old hatreds.
We’ve done some atrocious things. We should neither celebrate nor mourn this morbid information. We should simply become - informed.
That, in and of itself, does not condemn us to lose our souls. We are capable of learning, growing and reforming.
We have done a little better in the end of the last century, but only incrementally. Now, we're all riled up again, agitated because a collection of impatient and intolerant self-drunk idiots got themselves into positions of power and got in front of the microphone, hijacked social media, played on our worst behaviors and got us all stirred up. Once again, we’ve been pushed to look away from “bad things,” look only at our positive reflection, and if what we see looking back from our mirror of the soul is pointing an accusatory finger,
These self-drunk idiots are suggesting we take a hammer and smash the glass, thus losing our souls, our spirituality, our humanity and our basic common decency.
I must again remind the reader of some truths about humanity:
- We, as a species, are not a "peaceful lot."
- We are an aggressive species, and much of our aggression is toward our own kind.
- We should not hide the story of how easily we destroy one another.
- We should not attempt to perpetrate the atrocities over and over again.
And when we see atrocity occurring, wherever it is happening, by whoever is doing it, we need to call it out and name it for what it is.
Good guys and bad guys don't exist. Only people exist; people with a complicated nature, and a messed up way of viewing themselves and the world, finding themselves considering and validating wrong-headed and destructive feelings, thoughts and actions, so that they might think well of themselves and be thought of that way by others.
Remaining ignorant of our past practices, or worse, once informed, attempting to cover, re-paint, minimize, recharacterize or insert our biases as fact and “throw it at the wall and see what sticks” (Steve Bannon, ca.2015-2016) because you just don’t like what you are seeing in the mirror, is the essence of every addict’s struggle. The feelings, the thoughts, the denial of reality, the obfuscation in an effort to be thought of as “GREAT” instead of simply being ordinary and good, all because inside you are struggling with a feeling of “horrible, terrible, awful” (Albert Ellis’ triad of catastrophizing), is never a reason to stop giving a damn.
Sorry, Mr. Bannon. You did say that. You made sure it was heard by others. Here’s a hint: when you throw “it” at the wall, nothing sticks, except the stain where everything slid off and hit the floor.
Throwing things is often a sign of unaddressed rage, unspoken and closely held anger at both self and others.
All that we get from that is how conflicted, how tormented and how bedeviled the “thrower” is. It only adds to history’s ugly moments.
A fellow who currently works at Fox News was given exclusive access (won’t name him, but you can figure it out if you’ve been paying attention and can recognize the initials TC) to several thousand hours of testimony and footage of a moment in current events.
To rewrite history, to retell and reorient and displace anything that is unpleasant.
To assemble a false notion that what happened was “routine, ordinary, positive, upbeat, likeable.”
To double, triple, quadruple-down on the “sell.” The product is rotten fish, out of the freezer, off of ice, stinking to high heaven and decaying before our very eyes.
He’s selling us rotten sushi and sashimi.
He’s desperately trying to offer us all a reason to keep drinking from the poisoned vat of Kool-Aide that for oh, so much too long, our nation has been fed a constant stream of.
Joseph Goebbels (en.wikipedia.org/...), Hitler’s minister of propaganda during World War II, and in the nightmare years leading up to the beginning of that terrible episode, fed the German people lie after lie after lie. He also served up a brew of “Gemütlichkeit”, German for constant joy, happiness, well-being. Essentially, his job was to keep people entertained while a national and international criminal activity was being launched and kept underway.
When he finally had to deal with the reality, he murdered his family and committed suicide.
More on that terrible, and not too distant memory for Jews, Germans, all of Europe, Great Britain, the Americas, excerpted from a Wikipedia summary (en.wikipedia.org/...):
“Holocaust deniers prefer to refer to their work as historical revisionism, and object to being referred to as "deniers". Emory University professor Deborah Lipstadt has written that: "The deniers' selection of the name revisionist to describe themselves is indicative of their basic strategy of deceit and distortion and of their attempt to portray themselves as legitimate historians engaged in the traditional practice of illuminating the past." Scholars consider this misleading since the methods of Holocaust denial differ from those of legitimate historical revision. Legitimate historical revisionism is explained in a resolution adopted by the Duke University History Department, November 8, 1991, and reprinted in Duke Chronicle, November 13, 1991 in response to an advertisement produced by Bradley R Smith's Committee for Open Debate on the Holocaust:
That historians are constantly engaged in historical revision is certainly correct; however, what historians do is very different from this advertisement. Historical revision of major events ... is not concerned with the actuality of these events; rather, it concerns their historical interpretation – their causes and consequences generally.
A world was fed intoxicants. When the better angels, one of Jon Meacham’s characterizations, came to awaken us from the slumber, and we were aroused by being immersed in a war on the morning of December 7th, 1941, sobriety settled in and we knew exactly where we stood.
Denial is the stock and trade of the addicted self. Breaking free from that stupor is essential to the very survival of our animal selves, and to our spirit beings.
We have to see reality not as a virtual world that is all made up with nothing true, nothing really occurring, nothing factual or consequential, but as the world we perceive, the sounds we pick up on, the smells and tastes that are present in our day, and how we touch and are touched by others.
We’re being fed the Kool-aide again. We have to simply say, “Enough.”
If the owner and founder of the news and entertainment network I mentioned has come forth (and he has and he did), and albeit begrudgingly admitted in deposition that what his minions did was wrong, persisting in a fabrication was inappropriate at the least, unethical, and criminal at its worst, then the rest of us need to wise up, sober up, get our heads on straight, and begin to fight back for our lives.
In the news is an AP item concerning George Santos, who is now refusing to leave office, because he says, “Truth still matters” (AP, Lisa Mascaro, March 17, 2023 www.aol.com/...).
This is a person who has yet to tell us anything that is true, and he has repeatedly lied to his constituents. This is a person who self-serves denial, and holds himself in a delusion that he publicly shares. He is blatantly lying, because he has seen that other liars have withstood the test of time, and no measurable consequence has occurred as a result of being a pathological liar.
The truth of this man? After a period of time, all one can know is that no story he tells is believable.
It seems he’s taken to modeling himself after the former occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, a fellow of some notoriety, a person who also doubles-down, triples down and simply cannot walk away from the table with his pathological lying.
He has “supporters?”
C’mon, people. It is more like he has fellow drunkards, all bellying up to the bar, buying him another round…
Santos and The Donald have something in common, but they also have a lot of differences. One is under indictment for fraud in Brazil. The other has yet to be served papers that will accomplish something similar (news reports suggest that “something” will happen very soon). We are letting these two drunkards wander about, unfettered, occupying the spotlight, existing in our mainstream and daily lives, because for some morbidly curious reason, we just cannot stop looking at both of them.
We grant them free speech, the right to redress, the right to assemble, the right to express grievances.
No matter how many times you show them evidentiary information and reliable sources telling them they’ve lied, denied and fabricated, neither one of them can “dry out.” They’re both lush and sotted from the peculiarly fluid way in which they continue to push a complete fabrication.
Not to demean my clients and friends who have wrestled with alcohol, and with apologies to those who understand the careful and proper consumption of same. I cannot compare your lives with alcohol and other substances because it is simply unfair to all of you. Yours is a story of attempting to manage a failing relationship with chemistry; over time, you have learned that the compounds have been lying to you, and your very survival required you to walk away from booze or drugs.
For my gambling clients and friends, yours is a process of doubling down, taking on extraordinary risk, hoping against hope that the Fallacy will come true. Your pot of winnings gets smaller and smaller. Your risks become greater and greater. You tell yourself the lie to keep on going, because somewhere over the rainbow there’s a magical happy ending to all of this.
You are never happier than when you are surrounded by a collection of fellow gamblers, and yet, each one of you is locked in an isolation that you cannot break out of without the help of others.
We’ve all known the guy or gal who after one drink was up on the table dancing. They go from wallflower to the most brilliant conversationalist in the room. Their karaoke renditions are perfectly in tune. They are the best dancers. They are the sharpest dressers.
Some wake up the next day without memory of their devil-may-care behaviors. Others — reach for “the hair of the dog.” Still others go back, re-create the same disaster over and over again, but without the fun or joy that it all once brought them.
They love the lie. They have come to believe that the lie is loving them right back. It is their fantasy game room. It is their delusion.
It really isn’t about the booze. It is about the fully deregulated brain, abandoning its executive function, or worse, embracing a sociopathic processing, and enrolling in a program of increasingly higher and higher levels of intoxication and dogmatic error. There’s no insight. There’s no empathy. There’s no compassion. There’s nothing present except a biological automaton broadcasting a damaged and repetitive message, and encouraging others to tear down the bar because the barkeep announced, “Closing Time.”
Short version: this article is about people who are pretty sick. We need to keep this clearly in the forefront and not forget we’re looking at sickness, on a macroscale.
Yes. We must record this piece of history as well. We must look at it, and understand it, and be both disgusted and angered by it.
But we should not become so enamored with the notion of “getting away with it” and deliberately broadcasting a series of outright lies, because a document called the U. S. Constitution tells us that we all have freedom of speech.
Along with that freedom comes an immutable obligation to be sure what we say, especially in public, is true, necessary and doesn’t cause harm.
We owe it to ourselves to measure our words carefully and refrain from inaccuracy, taunts, belittlement, provocative posturing, goading, poking, maligning and focusing on causing others public embarrassment and pain.
We owe it to ourselves, to our futures, to our next generations, to be that person, that people, who begin to recover from this social intoxication and denial we’ve been sold as a pathway toward a Promised Land.
The work of recovery is not the easiest, but it begins by allowing others to help.
The work of reconstruction means looking at what was, what no longer is, realizing that in the void created by loss and failure, we have stepping stones that must be laid down, often painfully, so that we can rebuild the path back to good. The feelings give rise to thoughts and beliefs. If you can come to understand you got promised something that wasn’t true, then there’s hope. Adjust your actions to a more modest, more realistic target. See if achieving that target is possible. If so, then you have more than hope. You have a good start.
I hope I’ve reached a few of you, and made some appropriate comparisons. I hope I’ve put a glimmer of light in a really dark place. We are living in interesting times, terrible times, difficult times. We’re hearing calls for tearing everything up, acting out violently, and accurate history tells us that we’ve “seen this movie before.” We have. But we are not condemned to repeat it. We can learn from it, step away from this precipice, decide that survival, community, collaboration and a much slower form of progress are more important than anything flashy, exciting or “GREAT.”
We can do this by collectively and individually assessing our Feelings, Thoughts and Actions.
Examine yours regularly. Compare and contrast them to best practices, not crappy second-tier oversimplifications. If you did good on any given day,that's a good day.
If not -
Strive to do better. Don't short-change yourself. Improve.
It often costs very little, and requires moments of simple, brutal self-honesty. Don’t lie to yourself. Don’t lie to others. Don’t re-invent history because of something where you didn’t hit the mark. You must accept the past as a reality. You must either carry that reality, or you must put it down and accept that it is something that happened and you are not proud of.
It is ownership, and it is honest.
We as a living entity will become less likely to tolerate atrocity if we are our genuine, unadorned, quite ordinary selves.
We'll get better at recognizing and tolerating what does not matter, and seeing with clarity the really bad stuff. History can help us remember the really bad stuff, and inform us how we ought not do anything like that again. We should also get much better at not supporting those who see atrocity as acceptable.
We have to get busy speaking truth to folks who are trying to take power unto themselves, just so that they will be thought well of, and so that they can live with themselves for the places in their lives where they missed the mark.
If we don’t, our nation and very likely, our species will be selected for the dustbin of history.
And that dustbin is where legends, mythology and half-baked ideas go off to die. We have to get ourselves used to looking in the dustbin, not for the shiny objects, but for the evidence of being wrong, and learning how to be better.
It is dirty work. But it is honest work.
Are we on the brink of a civil war that is based on race, creed, religion, gender or age?
Are we on the brink of a civil war that is based on race, creed, religion, gender or age?
Our collective ignorance of one another is fueling the fires of a future civil war
We need to come to better understanding of one another, without fear of reprisal and without fear of violent attacks
So many lies have been told. A war will provide a good housecleaning
The proliferation of guns is criminal misinterpretation of the 2nd Amendment
We all hate one another. Maybe we should have a war and settle this...
Better education is the best pathway to mutual understanding
White Backlash is a very real thing
All I've learned to do in this past decade is hate my fellow man
I simply do not have any trust in anything any more. I'm ready for a fight
This poll is highly polarized; it speaks to the social divide we're experiencing in the U.S.
War will not produce a solution; it will only add to our growing problems at home and abroad.
We're already in that war. It is a conflict across all axes.
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