The scary twin specters of white supremacy and the other reared their ugly heads in the last presidential election (2016). In order to cope with these and other delusional horrors, we are going to have to redefine reality itself in America. “A history of civilization shares the presumptuousness of every philosophical enterprise: it offers the ridiculous spectacle of a fragment expounding the whole. Like philosophy, such a venture has no rational excuse, and is at best a brave stupidity; but let us hope that, like philosophy, it will always lure some rash spirits into its fatal depths.” (1) So down we go, fellow seekers after truth, into the fatal depths.
Unlike the self-deprecating Will Durant, who was describing his own mammoth undertaking of writing a comprehensive history of human civilization, we are undertaking with even greater hubris, changing the direction of human civilization. But instead of describing the linear flow of the fragments of civilization we see human history as one inseparable whole, interconnected, interdependent and interrelated. And indeed, white supremacy in America and the illusion of the other were “created” by a dualistic worldview. Enough philosophy, let’s get concrete.
Why does white supremacy continue to be such a problematic part of the American story? Henry Louis Gates Jr. in his latest book Stony the Road, takes on the challenge of answering our question. “Gates juxtaposes the optimism of Reconstruction, the despair of Redemption and the promise of the New Negro movement—the effort by black Americans, starting around the turn of the 20th century, to craft a counter-narrative to white supremacy.” (2)
Germany provides an example of how a nation might address the specter of an unwanted past. The swastika like the Confederate flag has proved to be an unwanted symbol of a shameful past but difficult to transcend. The Germans have been striving for decades to move forward beyond a part of their history that they would like to forget. “The German word for this effort is Vergangenheitsbewaltigung—coming to terms with the past—and it carries connotations of a painful history that citizens would rather not confront but that must be confronted in order not to be repeated.” (2)
Unfortunately for Germany or America, the long-term prognosis for moving beyond a troublesome past is not promising. Confronting unconscious self-destructive behavior will not be enough. Only a radical new narrative will suffice. To learn more about that paradigm shift click on the link below.
Insight # 99: “Worldviews, and the ways of knowing that produce and sustain them, structure our perception and define how we experience ourselves in relation to the universe.” (3)
- A Brave Stupidity in this blog and in print in The Human Community: Where we have been, Where we are now, Where we are going (2016), pages 47-51, by Roy Charles Henry.
- Durant, Will. Our Oriental Heritage. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1954, page viii.
- Painter, Nell Irvin. “After Reconstruction.” The New York Times Book Review. April 28, 2019, page 14.
- “The 2008 Shift Report.” Shift: At the Frontier of Consciousness. Petaluma, California: Institute of Noetic Sciences. March-May 2008, page 35.