Shadow of Unity
“When we first got together he said: ‘We should never have a falling out and we should never have any kind of dispute that reaches an impasse because we’re both intelligent, we’re both articulate and one should be able to convince the other. If both people are intelligent they should be able to buy the other’s argument if it’s on the right track.’ So I must be the most intelligent person in the world because he convinced me every time.”
—James B. Harris, on his relationship with Stanley Kubrick.
Stanley Kubrick was rumored to have an IQ of 200. Whether or not this is true will probably be forever up in the air, but there should be no doubt he was a highly intelligent, meticulous, and creatively prodigious individual. I say that to bring merit to these words you’ve just read, and to give them the weight they’re due.
Kubrick’s assertions are applicable across a broad spectrum of situations, and the current state of our nation is no exception. Are we headed for a civil war? I suppose only time will tell, but my opinion is no—and it holds as a testament to my faith in the intelligence of the American people. We are no longer living in the Dark Ages. We are no longer living in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. This is 2021, a time once revered as futuristic and full of hope by our grandparents. The ’60s likely dreamed of flying cars and space travel in the time we’re experiencing now; many likely dreamed of utopia. Utopic dreams have proved mistaken for the moment, but perhaps not forever. I still believe the shadow of unity exists somewhere in this nation. This land was built on the blood, sweat, and tears of our forefathers, carried in the minds of movers and shakers and on the backs of family men in overalls. It’s a sad day indeed when all that hard work can be negated so easily, by a few differences of opinion.
Sentiments aside, there are two kinds of ideas—those subjective and those objective. When it comes to subjectivity, there’s too much leeway, too much openness for a collective people to ever agree 100%. Personal interpretation is different for every person because we’re different, and that’s usually a good thing, lest we be boring and predictable in uniformity. Where Kubrick’s words really take hold is on the topic of objectivity. But...that probably explains itself so I’ll just be my difficult self and move back to subjectivity, as subjectivity is what’s basically killing our nation. Differences in subjective opinions. Are Kubrick’s words as potent here as well? I like to think so. In fact, I like to think they are more potent.
And if that fails...
To prevent myself from rambling too long, I’ll just touch on a statement which I believe would cure a lot of animosity and strife. Not all, by far, but concerning the smaller matters...maybe. “Agree to disagree.” This is basically my philosophy, because I’ve been around long enough to know that not everyone will share your opinion on things, and most of these individuals will be so cemented in their ways that attempting to change their minds will prove an exercise in futility. You could type a manifesto and they’d still tout their opinions just as boldly, unmoved and unchanged. What do you do with these hardheaded individuals then? Do you cut them out of your life forever and seclude yourself to a circle of like-minded friends—to avoid resistance, opposition, and all else that might be offensive to your sensibilities? Do you shun them, defame them, shame them, or even hate them? Any of the above can further stoke the flames of division. The only thing more dangerous than a failure to communicate is an outright refusal to communicate. By avoiding those who disagree with you and viewing them as enemies, you narrow your mind and thus become more radical in your views by default. I believe this is what’s happening now.
Some people have branded entire groups as evil, no longer seeing faces, but seeing the monster those faces comprise. They hate them collectively and without exception. Let on that you so much as lean the way of a certain belief and you’re forever marked, in their minds.
There comes a point where the only person I can speak for is myself. As a Christian, it is prohibited to hate another human. You may hate their actions, their opinions, and all else about them, but to hate the person themself is a different matter. To hate someone is to wish harm or even death on them, to take a perverse degree of pleasure in seeing them suffer. Hate is not subliminal; it’s a conscious choice. To choose not to hate, then, even when every fiber of your flesh urges you, will remove the bondage of grudges and anger. I’ve heard it best said that “hating someone is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die”—a quote attributed to everyone from Buddha to Mandela (thanks internet). Whoever did coin this phrase, I will say, was very correct. Hate begets vengeance begets more hate begets war. To occupy ourselves with something more useful would do a lot of good. Look to the constructive, the communicative, the peaceful. Look to the truth and never stop searching. Don’t be so stuck in your ways that you disregard a right answer just to uphold your pride. These things will ease the civil war within, and perhaps stop the civil war without.
One more quote. For the road.
“Living well is the best revenge.” —George Herbert
How about a little water for those flames?
The narratives on both sides of the American political divide are getting more and more extreme - as far as I can see, this is because politicians want the backing of public opinion to further (possibly bad, possibly good, but ultimately unknowable) political goals, and pulling on heart-strings is the most effective way to get people to join your side of any given disagreement. Politicians are guilty of this tactic all over the world, and why wouldn't they be? It's always worked before. But really, it’s all gone too far. America’s government has become the laughing-stock of the rest of the world; encapsulating the built-in flaw of democracy: The more people there are in a voting-body, the less any individual knows anything about who they’re voting for, what they’re voting for, or why. Thus, the more people are open to being manipulated. Before long, the general public is so brainwashed that they even think they know what’s going on! (Probably because they believe that at least half of the hyped-up half-truths they’ve been subliminally imbued with are simple and infallible parts of reality.) In fact, almost everyone is appalled at how little everyone else knows about “reality”, (I’m sure many of you are scoffing at me while reading this, for example) and the more extreme and devout believers of one or the other side of the current hot-topics (race, religion, etc) take care to educate everyone they come across, believing that their particular brand of prejudice is the correct one to have. I, like everyone else, have my own prejudices. I hate hatred you see; I deplore deplorers; I shame shamers. I think that accusing only men of sexism is sexist, I think that accusing only whites of racism is racist. I have a flagrant disregard for authority, and those who flout it.
Oh it’s so easy to become enraged, depressed, flabberghasted, by the actions of our fellow humans...
But I haven’t answered your question; Are we headed toward civil war? My answer is no. Of course this is merely an optimistic guess on my part, as I don’t know shit. But at least I know that I don’t know shit. A concession the whole country would be better off admitting, in my humble (wise and well-educated) opinion.
a political post! (Wait!) apolitical post!
Wow, it seems most of us are steering clear of this challenge as if avoiding the plague, a term that used to be ‘not quite’ so emotionally charged. As a matter of fact, last year at this time, saying 'to avoid like the plague’ could also be said to be a phrase apolitical.
On the one hand … why not say “we’re not sure if there will be civil war”?
But on the other hand … we’ve heard warnings, louder than mere rumblings.
But on the other hand … maybe folks will have lost interest.
On the other hand, no one can read this murky crystal ball! Let’s walk across coals of fire to lie us down on beds of pins and needles. Let’s roll over, tossing and turning, onto broken glass while we try to sleep, as our brains of their own accords weigh all possibilities.
“On the FINAL hand” to coin a phrase (in perhaps these final days?), if you’re not sure where you stand, Voice in the Wind, why didn’t you make the end date for this challenge 1/19/21, just in case?