Variables Vitiating Viewpoints, Visions

Resistance must be more than blockades and protest. (Photo: Eric Wüstenhagen/flickr/cc)
Resistance must be more than blockades and protest. (Photo: Eric Wüstenhagen/flickr/cc)


I’m not using the “V” here to allude to the 2009-2011 mini-series, the 1983 television production, the Guy Fawkes mask, Thomas Pynchon’s debut novel or any other silly or pseudo-serious treatment of radical response to the powers that be. Rather, for me, there’s a need to address the repetition that we’re experiencing in the realm of activism, whereby — ad nauseum — vociferous citizens are voicing complaints about our societal momentum following obsolete forms. All efforts underway being funneled through the politically correct means for protest, culminating in… no progress.

Civic Engagement is hampered seriously by concerned citizens who think they have a handle — an accurate view — of who is doing what to whom. We all suffer from that shortcoming if we are proactive respecting our collective crises. We — each of us — fancy that our individual “take” is spot on, that our perspective on what’s coming down only need be spread throughout the land for the public to move in solidarity along the proper road, taking the highest ground possible.

Wrong. We take the take,for the most part, that was baked for us in our formative years. Think of that overly patriotic poem Invictus. William Ernest Henley was, most certainly, not the master of his fate, the captain of his soul. Not in at least one sense, that having to do with the fact that he wrote the poem in English. Keep that in mind as I take you through the color spectrum below… related to land base and the like.

To cite just four variables at play, among many, I ask the reader to consider color, distance, angle and the temporal dimension. For instance, if one grows up along the seashore the blue of the ocean — don’t take me literally on color here, please — stays with one as one ventures forth into the green valley, residents in that realm having embraced, perhaps, some colored perspective between yellow and blue on the spectrum. And that verdant view is, necessarily, at odds with both the seaside blue eyes and the, say, azure blue sky eyes of those who spent their formative years on a mountain top.

Using another approach, one could say that one seeped in (oppressive) Latino history exclusively could find it impossible to be aligned visually with a (beatific) black vision of the world. Ditto for those who were reared on red versus those yearning only for a return to the Yellow Motherland.

I’m forcing myself to be quasi-lyrical here, but I trust that my main point is clear. That, with regard to color, we cancel one another out. Sure, we can march together screaming the same slogan on a given weekend, but — when push comes to shove — our primary color predominates, rules out others, wants to rule over others in a sense. Viscerally, that’s the case, if not consciously.

And that’s just with regard to color.

I mentioned distance, angle and time above. Well, one can be using the same color as someone else, but be viewing a given issue from a different distance. Or from below instead of from above. And, then, how long one focuses on a given subject, that’s significant too, of course, a potential deal killer, game changer for those in dialogue over important social and environmental matters.

Again, presently, we are fooling ourselves respecting our apparent alignment, our (seeming) movement in solidarity against this or that bad guy or bad policy. This becomes obvious if one spends any relaxed time with activists, documentary film makers, academics, lecturers, authors… anyone commenting on issues. It’s only when one crosses paths with them on the run that it’s possible to buy into the notion that lots of people are on the same page.

Whether the focus is Obama or Trump, the viewpoint of Person A and Person B might share some elements in common, but when it comes down to what must be done to deal with the downsides of anyone or anything… well, that’s where things fall apart, if they ever were really tight, together. There is no common Vision to speak of today, for all individual heartbeats are bouncing off of self-serving agendas.

Not all, I know. But so many that it’s no hyperbole to say… all. Too many.

What to do?

I say that it will be necessary for readers to set aside their personal present primary priorities. Necessary to review the way in which they’re interacting with supposedly like-minded souls too. Self-advantage aspects of one’s activist agenda must — at best — be of secondary importance. And the means collectively embraced must be questioned. For nothing’s working well enough right now. The introspection and review I’m recommending will take time. Will require a stepping  back for a bit, a steeping off of the treadmill one is on. And acknowledgement, first, that one is indeed on automatic with one’s activism.

Specifically, authors might need to ask themselves what role their publisher’s deadlines play. Lecturers might have to simply not accept the next offer that comes down on the circuit they travel. Academics, perhaps, would do well to not have their lives ruled by the bell, or by the next grant that tempts them.

Readers? Maybe the question they need to ask is what viable options exist for them if they cease and desist from reading so much. Reading in lieu of doing something with others. Those who see differently.

And keep in mind, if you will, that laughing together with someone over a series doesn’t constitute serious bonding. And pontificating at the podium to great applause doesn’t mean what most people think it does. There can be a huge gap between readers of the same book club, even if they’re on the proverbial same page respecting theme or plot and/or characters. I’m talking about a very fragile connection here that people on the same side of a given aisle take for an umbilical cord. Well, nothing authentically alive — pregnant with wothwhile possibilities — can be given birth without citizens nurturing one another. Which must begin with listening and hearing the other person.

Sharing the same mask, preparing for the same entertainment that we’ve been settling for doesn’t a new show make. Vision that redeems will never come through funneled vision.

Annapurna Tosca Sriramarcel is a freelance writer. She can be reached at [email protected]


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