The all-important challenge facing humanity today is finding a way to tell the difference between what seems to be happening and what is really happening. A discerning look at current events will reveal what we are talking about. Our fear of the truth has us paralyzed. “There is a mechanism in people that stops us from talking about bad experiences and makes us reluctant to stir up the past. But secrets foster a specific version of reality in which individual pieces have to be arranged in a particular way, fitting so neatly together that if just one were to change position, the whole picture would fall apart.” (1)
Best-selling writer Karl Ove Knausgaard has just described a personal insight that he had during a recent visit to Russia. The “whole picture,” not just in the former USSR, but in the global village today is falling apart. We are not referring to the answers we are hearing from pundits and politicians but real answers.
Columnist for The New York Times Paul Krugman quoting English philosopher Thomas Hobbes could have been describing life in today’s Russia. Hobbes said life in such a society was “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.”
“Yep, that sounds like Trump’s America.” (4) Tongue in cheek Mr. Krugman? Well, for some of us Americans, maybe not!
Russians and Americans today will be tempted to hope against hope that things will get better. The problem is that when fundamental, long-term change fails to happen it is human nature to see improvement that is not really there. For example, since the mid-sixties when civil rights legislation seemed to promise positive change for African Americans, they had cause for optimism and yet the last half-century has delivered only disappointment.
The temptation for any of us for whom life has fallen short of our expectations is to engage in self-delusion. The Afrofuturism found in comic books or other media can be an escape but it is not a solution. “They offer an escape from reality, and who might need to escape reality more than a people kidnapped to a stolen land and treated as less-than-complete humans?” (2)
Hope springs eternal though and now we have the optimism that surrounds the film “Black Panther.” “We need new work that actively challenges and counterbalances old assumptions, that offers radical models for how to conceive of ourselves and how to treat each other. We need artists and studios fighting for diverse work made by diverse creators for diverse audiences because it’s the right thing to do, not just because ‘Black Panther’ is hurtling toward a possible billion-dollar worldwide box-office take. Capitalism won’t germinate that kind of pure morality on its own, but we can choose it. If we really want to have this #MeToo reckoning—if we want to fix what’s broken—those choices are part of it. The movement can’t just disrupt the culture; it has to become the culture.” (3)
If we continue to try to solve our problems in the global village while unconscious, we won’t have much if any success.
Insight # 24: The unconscious character experiences his or her fate as external to its consciousness and laments the seemingly external infliction of the events of its life. –William Thomson
- Refer to The Unconscious in The ABC’s of Simple Reality, in print and on this blog, by Roy Charles Henry.
- Karl Ove. “Out of the Past: A Journey into the Heart of Russia.” The New York Times Magazine. February 18, 2018, page 51.
- Wallace, Carvell. “Making a Motherland.” The New York Times Magazine. February 18, 2018, page 29.
- West, Lindy. “Make Better Movies Too.” The New York Times. March 4, 2018, page 2.
- Krugman, Paul. “Nasty, Brutish and Trump.” The New York Times. February 23, 2018, page A23.