The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Friday, December 01, 2006

Friday Thoughts

Dennis Miller pretty much trashed his career when he stopped being funny.  Someone said he tried to get on the “Coulter gravy train.”  I really don’t think so.  I think what you saw post-9/11 was fear.  Fear that made him brittle and rigid.  I’d say the same of the “South Park” gang—they barely mentioned Bush and the White House post-9/11, and it is impossible for me not to think they would not, if politically neutral, have considered the Bush presidency a comic cornucopia.  They blinked.
More thoughts on whether or not I over-intellectualize.  Yes, I do, probably a defense mechanism to keep me from killing people.  I’m only half-kidding there.   At any rate, I don’t think people are good because they say good things.  And I don’t think people are bad for saying bad things.  Their actions rank far, far higher in my mind and heart.  I don’t know about Michael Richard’s actions, aside from doing something that has probably damaged his life and career.  He may be an actual raving racist…but in my experience, most real racists are more careful with their speech.  They  believe they are walking in enemy territory, where the Jews run the media, using Blacks as footsoldiers.  They don’t openly rant like that.  Of course, maybe he’s just a STUPID racist.  My mind is open to possibilities.
But on that same subject, recently a black firefighter in Los Angeles sued the city because his co-workers put dog food in his omelet, or some such thing.  He claims racism.  The co-workers claim it was just hazing.  He got a 2.7 million dollar settlement, which was then withdrawn by, I believe, the mayor.  The legal combat continues, but to this date the only real victim seems to be a black fire chief, forced to step down because of the controversy.
Sigh.  You know, again, I don’t know what to think.  All my life, being around guys, I’ve been aware that they play dirty tricks on each other in the name of “fun.”  When women are in the work place, and the EXACT same behavior takes place, often you will hear cries of sexual discrimination.  Is it?  I know that there is a photo of this fireman participating in hazing behavior that he SWORE he did not take part in.  This places doubt on his honesty, memory, and motivation. 

We’re going through some major adjustments in this country.  The whole “Politically Correct” thing makes me wince some time—but then, when it was politically correct to exclude minorities and women, that made me wince as well.  It’s important to remember that the term “PC” has been hijacked to mean “PC to the Left” without anyone asking what it meant to be “PC to the Right.”
I think that I think about these things publicly because I’m trying to ground my own psychology on the deepest bedrock I can find.  If my father had been in the home, I could have stood on his shoulders.  Since he wasn’t, I looked to the outer culture for definitions of manhood, and, of course, was let down terribly…unless I was willing to pretty much ignore my ethnicity.  Which I did.   One way of putting it would be to say I sacrificed my Melanin on the altar of my Testosterone.  And was able to get away with that for some time.  Now, I cannot.  If you trace your way up the yogic Chakras, you’ll see that you have to resolve sexual, survival, and power issues to built a foundation for your emotions and intellect.

I HAVE to sort back through all of this stuff.  It affects my sense of place in the world.  It has affected my career and income, my creative options, my sense of self in some powerful ways.  My way of dealing with this in my teens and twenties was intensive meditation, to cut to the innermost core of who I was, down past race or gender or even humanity itself, to find that living spark of divinity.

But I sort of did an “end run” around the damage, rather than cleaning it up.  And now…well, this might sound kind of strange, but I actually think I can heal myself.  I think I have the tools to roll up my sleeves, wade into that racial/social cesspool, and drain it.  There are serious alligators in that swamp.
It is not comfortable at all, and I know that many of my friends and fans wince to hear me talk about these things, when I have spoken or written so little about them previous to the last ten years.

But to me, there is nothing negative here.  I am absurdly optimistic about the future of humanity, and the world, and our great nation.  I am absurdly proud of the strides we have made to understand ourselves and each other—even as it is glaringly obvious that there is far, far more to be done.

But if there is to be healing between black and white, male and female, Christian and Moslem, Left and Right, it has to start with me.  With ME.  I am all I can control, and half the time I can’t control me worth a damn.  What right do I have to expect the world to be peaceful and loving when I cannot find that within my own heart?

It grieves me that our leaders prate on about who they will and won’t talk to.  Not talk to your enemies?  Damn, that’s exactly who you SHOULD talk to.  Any time, and I mean any time, I have heard that someone had a beef with me, I went straight to the source, and made every honest effort to clean it up—and that includes people who have wanted to hurt me badly.  I can’t comprehend anyone voluntarily diminishing communication, denying themselves information.  To me, this is utter insanity, and can only be justified if you think that those different from you are less than you.

I never had the luxury of thinking that way.  Thank God.

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