Tuesday, September 29, 2009

"E Pluribus Unum"

Great Seal
I'm coming out of the closet. No, not all of me, perhaps just the big toe on my left foot. I don't wish to introduce too much levity here, because the subject that I'm going to tackle is a serious one, and requires a serious voice and a serious face.

I have many personas, many voices. Don't worry: They're all good. It's just that here on this blog I speak with a certain voice, and on the others, with an entirely different one (And, no, I'm not schizophrenic.), and I try to keep the voices separate. If you've heard this voice, you wouldn't recognize the others.

Just as there are many facets to your humanity, there are many to mine. Now, I'm going to speak, for the moment, blending the two facets. I was going to blog about something else, but I read the following words on another blog, and felt that I should bring my eyes to this "MADNESS."

"I need you to talk about Derrion Albert's murder.
I need you to bring your ... eye to this MADNESS.
i cannot belief that these young people beat a boy to death.
And yet, what keeps playing in my mind
Bill Cosby talking about 'Come On People.'"


If you know nothing about Derrion Albert, here's a brief description of what happened. A Google search will turn up more information and further links, including links to a video that captured his brutal attack:

"One of the suspects accused of killing an honor student in a beating captured on tape in Chicago has admitted to jumping on the victim's head after he was already lying on the ground, said a spokeswoman for the Cook County state's attorney.

"In the videotaped confession, 19-year-old Silvanus Shannon also said that the victim, Derrion Albert, 16, never struck him, said the spokeswoman, Tandra Simonton.

"Three teens arrested in Albert's death -- Silvanus Shannon, 19; Eric Carson, 16; and Eugene Riley, 18 -- were seen on the videotape attacking Albert, and were charged with first degree murder and held without bail, Simonton said. Monday night authorities said they charged a fourth suspect, 17-year-old Eugene Bailey, with murder.

"On Monday during the bond hearing, prosecutors described how the street fight escalated from a dispute between two factions at Albert's high school to a beating that left the honor student dead.

"Prosecutors said Albert was an "innocent bystander" who ended up in the middle of a street fight between two factions of students at his school, Christian Fenger Academy High school, on Chicago's South Side."
More here.

These four young black men will, in all likelihood, either spend the remainder of their lives behind bars, or a large portion of it. And why? What was achieved in this senseless act of violence? And why was it so easy for one boy to hit Derrion with a piece of wood, and another to stump him repeatedly about the head?

And what would have prevented the savage beating of Derrion Albert?

Would an all-pervasive military or police force have prevented it? Perhaps. But that would require a police state, and a suspension of many of our social, and civil freedoms, and, even with that, Derrion may still lie dead. Despite the ubiquitous presence of police, senseless violence would still continue, but in a more stealthy fashion, not so much out in the open. The problem, sadly, cannot be solved (maybe mitigated) militarily, or through the presence of a strong police force.

Would targeted political policies, and legislative actions do it? Perhaps. But the policies that we have in place now haven't solved the problem (our bursting-at-the- seams jails and prisons are a testament to our legal crackdowns on criminality). And this, too, may have acerbated the problem, rather than fixing it. Politics and the legal system are not going to solve the problem.

The problem is not a military one, a political one, or a social one. The problem is a problem of values: And what we treasure is at the heart of it. If the heart values violence then violence will be what is expressed.

The solution is simple, but a great deal harder to effectuate. But effectuate we must, if we're going to coexist on this planet in harmony and peace, or utterly destroy ourselves and our world.

The Solution: Exchange All values for One value. E Pluribus Unum. "Out of Many One." The answer has been hiding in plain sight. It's on some of our coins, our one dollar bill, and even our Great Seal. It's been there all these years, and we have ignored it. And what, pray tell, would that one value be that could be exchanged for all the other values that we have adhered to, or not, in all these many millennia?

This is the value: We're All One. And the other that supplements it: There's Only One Of Us Here. We need to know that we're not separate and apart from each other. I know: It sure as hell look that way. And if I were in my other voice, I'd spend sometime telling you why, but that's not the goal, nor purpose of this blog. As long as we think that we are separate and apart from each other, we can do all kind of things one to the other. We can enslave our fellowman. We can carry out a holocaust against a people. We can drop atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. And we can fly planes into buildings.

In a nutshell, we need to expand our notion of the self. We need to see all others as 'The Self', and become a member of this larger, grander Self. As long as our focus is on the self, and not the expanded Self, we act purely from the little ego, rather than the 'Big Ego'. You want a life-changing experience, try living out of the 'Big Ego', the 'Big Self', 'The Self'. It will color everything you do, from the smallest, your casual conversations, to the biggest, how you interact with family, coworkers, friends, and strangers.

It's critical that we start teaching the 'One Self' concept early in the life of children. Teach them that not everyone is going to know their relationship to all others, but that we do our best to live as though we are all one. Teach this concept in the schools, not as a religious construct, but a social construct. Even if you don't believe in the Guiding Principle of 'One Self' (that in some way we're physically, spiritually, or soulfully All One), I can't think of another construct that has more potential, other than the Golden Rule, on which this one is based. But since the Golden Rule smacks of religion, it'll be harder to sell. Teach them: What you do (good or bad) to others you do to the Self.

Sure, you'll come across instances where the 'One Self' concept will be challenged. What do you do when you believe another is seeking to take advantage of you, or is seeking to "rip you off"? I say use commonsense. Most of the time I err on the side of compassion, depending on what is being asked, by whom, and for what purpose. A few dollars given to someone on the street begging (whether a scam or not), is not going to break me. And where I've made loans to friends that weren't paid back, I have always recouped my losses in some unexpected way. I have never lost anything (that appeared to have been taken from me), because I don't believe I can lose. And I don't.

On the blog I referenced, many are asking what can be done. In the short term not much, except to embrace the concept of the 'One Self' and live it, and share it with others, as the opportunity presents itself. It's going to take us some time to fix what's broken. But it can be done. When we combine all values into one value (a Self that embraces all selves), we're kinder, more generous, more caring, more patient, and so on--and those with this new mindset would never kill in the wanton, and senseless fashion with which Derrion was killed.

And there are others like me. Many others! No, this concept is not my brainchild, but it is one that I have adopted. The concept of 'One Self' is winning adherents at an incredible rate. And they're in every part of the world imaginable. Using this concept to conduct their daily lives, they're quietly transforming our world. They come from every religion, creed, and nationality. They're uniting in their efforts to bring a new perception to the human race, a perception that would end much of the strife, and senseless violence, that come from a belief of separation and apartness. They're focused exclusively on the 'One Value', the 'One Solution': We're All One.

18 comments:

Monie said...

BD,

"we need to expand our notion of the self. We need to see all others as 'The Self..."

That really is at the core of all of this. We really do see our selves as different from this one and that one.

Great post.

Ernesto said...

Be careful BD...they will call you a communist. They call Obama a socialist for even hinting that peoples' lives are more important than the profit motive.

Of course, the disregard for human life is not limited to fatherless kids in the ghetto. That same dog eat dog mentality is the way we do business in this country, literally. We don't see it so starkly as the in-your-face video of a young person being beat to death, but it's every bit as brutal and on a much, much larger scale(think U.S. foreign and domestic policy).

It is very much the law of the land, written into our legal code as well as our bloodlines. I admire your intellect for isolating and describing it and your resilient spirit in suggesting to us how we can innoculate ourselves against it.

Black Diaspora said...

@Monie: "That really is at the core of all of this. We really do see our selves as different from this one and that one."

Yes. And as long as that perspective persists, we give ourselves permission to do all sorts of inhumane things one to the other, or to allow all kind of inhumane things to occur.

We have a government with a goal of nation building in Iraq and Afghanistan (providing billions of dollars in security and infrastructure investments), but when it comes to our innercities, well, it can only do so much.

Black Diaspora said...

Ernesto, insightful as always. It's an American problem--as you put it, the "dog eat dog mentality" that's at the heart of it.

We see it in the attitudes of corporations, and the "business as usual" CEO's who will bilk customers, or manipulate business practices to their financial benefit.

Recently the banks had to back down: They wanted to hike overdraft fees, but public outcry was so loud that they scaled back.

You're right, it's ingrained: a cultural story, almost from the inception of our nation, and the wild, wild West was the culmination of it.

Someone described the Western motto, and cultures as: "Do it unto others before they can do it unto you."

It's a funny, but tragic statement, and still an indelible part of our culture.

And yes, it manifests itself at all levels--our politics, our business practices, and how we interact one with the other.

It's not happenstance that a few years back a very popular book for those in business read, "Winning Through Intimidation."

Winning by any means necessary is a pervasive principle in our society, and exists from the top down--from Wall Street to main street, from Capitol Hill to Humboldt Hill, and pervades the decisions made in board rooms, as in backrooms.

And yes, our foreign and domestic policies are every bit as "brutal" as what we saw take place on a street in Chicago, but, somehow, that brutality barely registers or up our blood pressure.

I posted my experience with young people over at Field. I hope you get a chance to read it, if you haven't already. It comes from a slightly different perspective than some of the other posts.

Blinders Off said...

BD,

The concept of "One Self" is no different than how I lived my entire life, except I referred to it as "Treat others how you want to be treated". With that said, I also had no problem going to battle with someone who treated me differently because of the color of my skin.

I instilled that value in my daughters from the day they started Pre-K, which is the beginning of children being around other children that are different from them.

Your solution is simple, just as "The Golden Rule". Unfortunately, it will never happen in our society.

I am at a point in life to do what I do from the heart and I try not to let the negatives in our society deter me. Yes, I get frustrated many times, but the rewards of seeing young black males and females living a successful life because someone cared is worth not giving up on our youth.

Great Post!

Black Diaspora said...

Blinders Off said...
"BD,

The concept of "One Self" is no different than how I lived my entire life, except I referred to it as 'Treat others how you want to be treated'".

Both it and the Golden Rules are wonderful concepts, and just as you've stated, it doesn't require that we become carpets for the feet of others.

"I instilled that value in my daughters from the day they started Pre-K, which is the beginning of children being around other children that are different from them."

Would that all parents. We'd be that much closer to a peaceful world, and a place where everyone felt wanted and valued.

"I am at a point in life to do what I do from the heart and I try not to let the negatives in our society deter me."

I like the fight in you. You're not a quitter. Life doesn't like quitters. She rewards those that persists, despite obstacles and occasional setbacks.

"Yes, I get frustrated many times, but the rewards of seeing young black males and females living a successful life because someone cared is worth not giving up on our youth."

You are a gift to life as much as life is a gift to you. I worked with young people for many years, and, yes, the rewards are awesome.

"Your solution is simple, just as "The Golden Rule". Unfortunately, it will never happen in our society."

You're absolutely right: it is based on the Golden Rule. Some people resist anything religious. This is the reason I suspect for the recasting of it.

Yet, the Golden Rule may be stated in such a way as to include it.

Not as it is written in the Bible, but as it is most commonly stated:

"Do unto others as you would have others do unto you, for you are the other."

Many of Jesus' statements I believe survived the ravages of time intact, but the One Self is not expressly stated, but strongly implied. Consider this:

Give and it shall be given to you, forgive and ye shall be forgiven.

And I'm more optimistic than you. It's imperative that we come together and create a world of peace, and respect for all.

Our survival hinges on it. I'm going to give more thought to how this concept might be implemented in the black community, but tailored to blacks.

I'm always happy to see you. Thanks for coming.

RiPPa said...

First time visiting. This was powerful and profound. And it is essentially the issue at hand. Thanks for not making it a Black issue.

Black Diaspora said...

RiPPa, I've been over to your Cyberpad a few times: You make me feel right at home.

On my next visit, I'll put my feet up, and chat awhile.

If you don't mind, I'll roll you out on my blog list.

Seda said...

Great post, BD. So true, and well put. I love this the way that Hafiz put it into verse:

"I have come into this world to see this:
the sword drop from men's hands even at the height
of their arc of anger
because we have finally realized there is just one flesh to wound
and it is His - the Christ's, our
Beloved's."

As you say, all religions, all creeds - there is no "us & them" - there is only Us.

kathy said...

Black Diaspora,

We're All One, that is beautiful, kinder, more generaous, more caring, thank you.

Black Diaspora said...

Seda, if I might be brutally honest: I have missed you. And I was worried, and I'm glad that my worry wasn't necessary, and that you're well.

The Hafiz verse is an extraordinary way of stating our oneness, and I've never heard it expressed more beautifully.

Oneness is that "final realization" for which I, too, yearn. And nothing, or no one, will deny me.

Black Diaspora said...

kathy said...
"Black Diaspora,

We're All One, that is beautiful, kinder, more generaous, more caring, thank you.
"

Hi, kathy. It's works for me. I wanted to say more about Derrion's death than just the usual lamentations.

Hence, I used the opportunity, not just to lament Derrion's death, but to offer a way out of our human predicament--although the road ahead will be an arduous one no matter what method we adopt to overcome our all-too-common propensities to strike out at each other.

Race Traitoress said...

Lovely post. Your take on "One Self" is solid and sensible. And the way you said it was beautiful.

When I started teaching about the history of the Pledge of Allegiance I found out that in the 1950s during the Red Scare our national motto was changed from "E Pluribus Unum" to "In God We Trust." I never knew that before. It broke my heart; I've always loved the original motto, even though we've seldom lived up to its promise.

Black Diaspora said...

Thank you, Race. The original motto is special, and, no, we seldom live up to the "promise" it holds for humankind.

But things are changing. I'm more hopeful than ever, despite what's happening on the world stage.

We can change our world, one person at a time, for this is the time and we're the persons.

And it's about time, because we're running out of time, if we wish to spend more time, as a people, on this most wondrous of places we call home--our planet earth.

Ernesto said...

"I posted my experience with young people over at Field. I hope you get a chance to read it, if you haven't already."

Yes, that was beautifully written. Being idealistic is hard sometimes and the disappointments are many, but it beats the alternative, which is being spiritually dead.

Angie-in-Japan said...

BD said: "As long as we think that we are separate and apart from each other, we can do all kind of things one to the other. We can enslave our fellowman. We can carry out a holocaust against a people. We can drop atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. And we can fly planes into buildings."

I recently joined a painting class (as the only foreign woman in a class of 10 or so Japanese women). My teacher, from Hiroshima, warmly welcomes me into her home....and is very sincere in the generosity she bestows me. Though I have MANY questions, I avoid talking about the war at all costs. I am sure she is reminded of it and the destruction it caused her and her family every single time she sees my face. Still...the love she shares is unbelievable.

The area I live in here was targeted for the next atomic bomb...but the war ended before they dropped it. I have lived here, as an American woman out in these gorgeous rice fields, for 16 years. I will honestly (and without regret) say that I have been treated better here than in many places back home. Maybe it is because so much priority is placed on the GROUP versus an individual. It was difficult getting used to that when I first arrived and I still have my "me, I and mine" American-centric tantrums every now and again. Still, I have truly grown as a result of being rubbed against the grain of thought I learned in the States.

"It's critical that we start teaching the 'One Self' concept early in the life of children. Teach them that not everyone is going to know their relationship to all others, but that we do our best to live as though we are all one."

You know, BD, some of my best moments have been in the Japanese school system. From opening up to connect with kids on a level where they will come over to ring my doorbell to play kickball at 8am on a weekend morning...to Japanese families trusting me with the welfare of the kids for the day at a local park or even a trip overseas...to kids hugging and/or kissing me on the cheek in front of their family and friends (not too popular here!!)...to little first graders arguing over whether or not I am Japanese. LOL...(yes, that really happened!!)

Japanese has offered me an interesting take on that which you wrote in this particular blog. The journey into self is a very difficult one...but ohhhhhhhh so rewarding!!

Black Diaspora said...

@Angie: "I am sure she is reminded of it and the destruction it caused her and her family every single time she sees my face. Still...the love she shares is unbelievable."

I'm impressed. She made a pivotal decision in her life.

Apparently she made peace with the event, and chose to define herself, rather than be defined by the event.

"It was difficult getting used to that ["the GROUP versus an individual'] when I first arrived and I still have my "me, I and mine" American-centric tantrums every now and again. Still, I have truly grown as a result of being rubbed against the grain of thought I learned in the States."

It's got to be transformative to see yourself through the eyes of those with unfamiliar cultural values.

They call it "culture shock." Sometimes a shock can be a good thing, if it makes us take stock of who we really are in relationship to something, or someone else: It will either affirm who and what we are, or expand the self we already embrace.

"Japanese has offered me an interesting take on that which you wrote in this particular blog. The journey into self is a very difficult one...but ohhhhhhhh so rewarding!!"

What a wonderful ambassador you are for our country! I know that's not your purpose, nor a burden you should carry, but it falls to you, nevertheless, by default.

From the earliest of times we've been told: "Know thy self."

One of the ways to do that is expand the self so that it becomes "The Self." It gives new meaning to these familiar words.

I've enjoyed your visit: Please come again.

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