Thursday, October 31, 2013

Getting Number One All Wrong

So I found out why the lights occasionally blink at Dragon Mountain. I am expanding so walls are going up and walls are coming down. In taking off the socket covers on a wall to go, I got a hell of a shock because the socket is live wired. Makes for a very slooooooow demolition job. 
I can't turn off the power to the room because I don't know which fuses apply. I can't just "test" to find out because both neighbors have their servers involved with major projects and one doesn't have the backups system fully connected (if the power goes out naturally I am golden, but he is screwed). All of this has turned my 24 hour remodeling spree into a prolonged meditation in recycling and the noise levels of power tools. I am actually glad for the delay because it has let me see how to use pieces of the old wall better in the new space.
In 1996, there was a rally for the Klu Klux Klan in Ann Arbor, Michigan. As a nation, we were listening to Oasis, Snoop Doggy Dogg, Madonna, Mariah Carey and Marilyn Manson. 30 black churches were burned in the South and the Summer Olympics were in Atlanta. Depending on your age you probably mark the year with memories of Elmo, the first release of Java or the divorce of Charles and Princess Di.
In 1996, the KKK followed the law and got a permit for assembly. No one was happy about it, but free speech rules. A group of protesters showed as well, outnumbering the KKK and their supporters by a vast margin. The police were there and all eyes were trained on the bad guys.
Suddenly, one of the anti-KKK protesters noticed the enemy in their midst. A lone middle aged white man with a sloppy belly, a T-shirt with the confederate flag emblazoned on it and SS tattoos. Seeing he had been noticed and attention was focusing toward him, the man started quickly walking away from the crowd. The walk turned into an awkward run as the mob turned on him and with cries of "get him!" began to chase. He tripped and fell to the ground. The mob began to punch, kick and hit him with their protest signs. The placards promoting tolerance and peace becoming crumpled and unreadable as their wood poles became batons.
Keisha Thomas, a 19 year old black woman there to protest the KKK, jumped from the mob and threw herself over the man's body to shield him from the blows.
photo by Mark William Brunner
Would you?
Keisha doesn't think much about that day. As she puts it, she is more concerned with things that have to be done. She does remember that a few weeks later, a white man in his 20s stepped in front of her and bluntly said, "Thank you." When she asked for what, he replied, "That was my father."
Of late, Keisha's story has been featured on news outlets across the world. Why? It isn't the anniversary of the event. No new story has come about to bring it to mind. Just suddenly, everyone but Keisha is thinking about it.
One of the things that we are discovering that we have gotten very wrong is the concept of "looking out for number one." Oddly enough, although the wording is modern the idea has been with us since civilizations began. Only during the course of the past 200 years or so has the understanding of who is number one become so wrong.
It isn't you.
And it isn't me.
It is we.
Taking care of number one means to take care of your fellow man and community. Why? Because it benefits us all. Every major religion teaches this and they teach that the individual is to be overcome because no one person can survive or contribute to life on their own. No man is an island, to borrow a certain phrase.
Especially over the course of the past 80 years there has been a steady transition to thinking the individual has more value than the community. They don't. It is the community that shapes life. By placing an emphasis on the individual subjective and temporary experience as being more important than the nurturance of community, we create only things that fail, hurt and destroy.
We have even managed to take love and strangle it on the altar of the individual, rather than allow it to be a companion to a much larger influence. 
Recently, they have concluded from a vast cross sectional study of artifacts that warfare and hostile aggression is not natural to human communities. To act defensively yes, but to act to gain - no. That is something that only came about as the person, and not the role, of leadership became more valued.
Keisha protected the essence of what hated her and sought her harm in this life because she was horrified at the thought of the community it put her in membership of to watch a mob kick and beat a person for a difference of opinion.
As I have said before, your opinion doesn't matter to anyone but you and isn't real. What you do reveals who you are and what you value. Like Gloria Steinem said, if you want to know what you really believe in, look in your checkbook register. if you want to know who you are, look at how you act in thought, word and deed.
We can't predict or promise how we will engage in emergencies, but we can live so no other choice would be available to us then the morals and ethics we profess to believe.

No comments:

Post a Comment