We left you two weeks ago in an unsavory mash of potatoes and political correctness. Most of the time we chop wood and carry water, enjoy the smell of of rain and the feeling of the sun on our faces. We wouldn’t bother too much with the growing pains of the world but for the simple fact that they trouble many of the people we care about, some of whom feel the worrisome sound in the back of their heads is the death rattle of everything they value.
So we jump into the fray to try and understand better ourselves so we can help our loved ones understand too, and we carry humor with us as a shield against the slings and arrows of outrage, catch phrases and acronyms in an environment where everything from The Andy Griffith Show to The Muppets comes with warning and disclaimers to protect the fragile. In spite of our best efforts, sometimes anger overwhelms humor, especially when a stray arrow finds our Achilles’ Heel of low tolerance for ignorance-combined-with- arrogance. We try to write through the anger with humor, and sometimes it gets a bit convoluted, as a friend noted last week.
“I enjoyed your article the other day…I think. I got a little lost in all the potatoes. I think I get the gist of it. You don’t like all the new rules about political correctness, but can’t you just say what you mean straight out?”
Straight out then. The only thing I need to know about you or anyone else on God’s green earth is your name and the quality of your character. Thats all. You earned compassion when you walked into the room, simply because you’re one of God’s creatures, and for the same reason you have my respect. Now there’s a chance that we may define “respect” very differently. That’s OK. There are 7 billion other humans on the planet and I don’t have to be all that into you. This may come as a shock, but the rest of the world is not all that into you either.
Of course you have every right to care about whatever it is in which you choose to invest your precious and finite time and energy. Express yourself however you like. Love who you will. Decorate yourself as you wish. It’s your life, your body, and your personal understanding with the Almighty is not subject to anyone else’s judgment. However, as important as your preferred pronouns, ancestry, pigmentation or cultural heritage may be to you, if you insist on wielding them like a sharp pointy stick or carry them like the gland on the back of a skunk, it’s not required that you and I be friends. Go ahead and “cancel” me now.
“Cancel Culture” is a leaky umbrella over the various efforts by corporate, political and academic pixel peddlers to ostensibly work toward a more “inclusive” society. It’s not the thing itself, but it is how the combined effect of hyper-political-correctness and abject celebrity apologies makes many of us feel.
Here’s the thing: America was already setup to be an inclusive, egalitarian society. There were many failures, such as we’ve all heard about so much recently. Racism, sexism, and a whole laundry list of prejudices, all of which fit unfortunately within the boundaries of human nature, meant that we had to keep our collective shoulders to the wheel to overcome them. There has never been a time when someone’s shoulder was not on that wheel. Sometimes we failed, and sometimes we prevailed. We prevailed more often than we failed, and those efforts have been supported by the highest and best of our culture and by the force of law.
But now the “woke” have escaped not only the bounds of grammar, but of common sense. Critical Race Theory holds that those of Northern European ancestry are genetically predisposed to racism. The celebrity universe is obsessed with the .42% of humanity which is not comfortable in the bodies they were born into, and that universe is relentless in seeking out ways to focus the narrative on that very narrow spectrum of human interest. Therefore, since we have for too long allowed celebrity, which represents the intents and purposes of the corporate world, to set the narrative, that narrow interest has propagated to the mainstream. For example, a group of hospitals recently issued a directive to refer to breastfeeding mothers as “chest feeding people” to be more inclusive of people who might otherwise be offended.
The more one digs beneath the surface, the more one finds out that “wokeness,” while it does to some extent represent the sincere interests of many people, is not at all an organic movement growing out of a consensus of opinion among people with similar viewpoints. It is more of a fire fueled by corporate and political interests for profit and for the consolodation of power. It encourages anger and divisiveness in a media consuming public which is addicted to worry and outrage.
Diversity. Inclusiveness. Respect. All good. Unfortunately, we seem to define respect differently. To me, it is racist, prejudiced, disrespectful, controlling and arrogant to attempt to permanently affix a “victim” label on so many segments of humanity, and to characterize them as being in need of rescue. So many victims, so little time. Here’s a story a friend sent which illustrates just what I’m talking about.
Robert Smalls was born into slavery in South Carolina. With a group of other slaves and some White officers, he stole a Confederate ship and sailed it out of Charleston. They replaced the Confederate flags with white banners and, as they had hoped, they were captured by a Union vessel. Smalls later served as a pilot in the Union navy. He risked his life clearing minefields which he had helped lay as a slave. He was promoted to captain because of his bravery in battle.
Later on Smalls became an activist for education and literacy among former slaves. He entered politics and was elected to the US House of Representatives in 1874 and remained active in politics into the 20th centtury. Smalls eventually bought the plantation where he had grown up, and lived there for the rest of his life.
Smalls said, “My race needs no special defense, for the past history of them in this country proves them to be the equal of any people anywhere. All they need is an equal chance in the battle of life.”
An equal chance. An equal playing field. Wokeness misses the point. Equality is an opportunity, not an outcome.
“Now that’s more like it,” my friend said. Can’t you write like that all the time?”
“I suppose I could, but I’ve always liked Dickens more than Hemingway.”
“There you go again.”