The past is not dead. In fact, it’s not even past. — William Faulkner US novelist (1897 – 1962)
Earlier this spring, an article in the Psychology Today journal, caused somewhat of an uproar and furor. It was written by a Japanese psychologist, Satoshi Kanazawa. He proclaimed that Black women were not as beautiful as white women and this can be proven. Article here: http://www.buzzfeed.com/mjs538/why-black-women-are-less-physically-attractive-tha
What science, what heritage, what past?
Well, even though he could be called “The Rush Limbaugh of Japan,” he is speaking from a place of prominence. Those who already feel similar things, would be inclined to side with him and confirm. Those who don’t, will not. In either case, we cannot confuse truth, opinion, and proof and words such as ‘science’ and ‘psychology’ or ‘justice,’ with the work that we must all begin to do–within and without.
I even heard some folks tell me that because this man was Japanese, it was proof that what he was saying was “universal” and not white supremacist!!!!
I responded back to this person: Hello! Have you heard of westernization? globalization? The history of how the Japanese nation became globally “known” and respected through its adoption of the prevalent philosophies and sciences of the 18th through early 20th centuries–i.e. race science??? And if you research the strongest nations of the world today (in 2010-2011) and their histories, would they not include the most virulent forms of racism and genocide and the social sciences that established them as superior to others? There is not one powerful nation that did not practice this. Is a Japanese scientist’s racism and white supremacies in the West, unrelated? And what of the other scientists in Japan and elsewhere, who do not agree? In any case, there is the sense of superiority.
Morality will not help humanity create social justice.
This is because morality is most often particularly created from emotions that depend on culture, time, place, hierarchy. But what is the most significant aspect of any “morality” is how it entitled people who speak to “morality” – to superiority and dominance. So if this is the case, how can there be a “world peace” or “social justice” when a sense of democracy is based on “being right” and “being superior?”
On the other side of the spectrum are pan-humanists who believe in universal “goodness” and that those who feel that it is those “others” who practice the “inferior evils” of cultural difference (after all–we are ‘all the same underneath’) and fictional racisms that divide us. Oh if those “others” would only understand what we understand, the world would be better— kind of thinking. This breeds an individualism and smug moral superiority that leaves those “others” to their games, thus allowing those “others” to foment and further increase their power in society. There is also the subtle and not-so-subtle –and all-too-popular and present notion– of politics being outside of self, outside, outside. It’s not me. It’s not us. It’s them.
If people would only be free of politics, then the world would be better. Do I need to talk about how this in itself, is political? Or more accurately, isn’t it apolitical? It absolves people from getting involved. It is self-defeating. It is an ultimate coldness. It is often valorized because in individualist-based societies, life is about how an individual reaches his or her own death, his or her relationship with a God or a truth or an afterlife or a morality on-high. It is certainly not about others or of society, or of their own responsibility and accountability to how the world is. No family, no heritage, no privilege. How convenient!
When three or four people responded to my blog on Hiroshima Day, as well as seven or eight who wrote to me in response to Pearl Harbor Day, it wasn’t pretty. The words they sent to me were of the Atomic Bomb not being enough. The Japanese “deserved it.” And of course, there were three or four people who wrote so in response to my blog on the Japanese earthquake and tsunami in 2011. And it was all over the news. American athletes and some show business people also chimed in, speaking of Karma and retribution. So there cannot be any world peace. There cannot be social justice that leads to world peace, when these knowledges continue to circulate.
History is right now. As we speak and write everyday, it is history. For people to ignore the past, and scream for a better life, for people to say they pursue happiness but ignore the fact that in order to “pursue” means that one is in misery, craving for more—-and for all this to not have anything to do with how our societies globally, are being shaped by many forces –including our own participation and creations in relation to these status quo forms, is to ignore reality. And isn’t that the way it works? Reality is too much. Let us escape. However, even the escapes that we chose, are mostly created by the forces that create our reality. In other words, escaping reality is more of reality. It is not escape. And why is ESCAPE the notion of freedom? Are FREEDOM and ‘escape’ the same?
And then we add middle class and high caste aspirations to the mix and we get a lot of undetected and unacknowledged privilege. Are MIDDLE CLASS TRAPPINGS the sign that tells us we are free? Globalization is not an evil. We have always been global, always related to each other across difference. But in the age of market capitalism and continuing global mechanisms, we are entrenched in being governed and controlled without our knowing. And to those people who resist by dropping out and forming the counter-movement, they often throw out allies and forms of life that could be liberating, but have been labeled “evil” or signs of the people and structures they fight against, without understanding interconnectedness.
Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t about being for or against or that it’s hopeless. On the contrary!!!!!
History needs to be faced. The politics of everyday life, including our own emotions with ourselves and each other– (as politically and historically situated), can bring us to a realization that we must do things differently, but not in order to destroy the honoring of time and generations. In addition, we must understand and develop different relationships to the idea of DIFFERENCE. Today, difference has become something we must “understand” and therefore obliterating the “other” and making them something of our own language and accessibility, robbing them of difference—-or we must assimilate or annihilate. The current wars on terror, the wars on drugs, the war on criminals, the war on ….. the war on…. are all elite manifestations of increasingly disempowering our creativity and relationships, forming them into reasons to be enraged, disempowered, aggressive, and unhappy. We channel these things — increasingly — into ways of feeling enthralled, propelling us into a poverty of thought and feeling and navigating our lives into certain oblivion.
Wake up y’all. Wake up y’all. We need solidarities, new forms of thinking, creativity, honoring of difference and legacy, more diversity in approaching diversity, less certainty in certainties, yet understanding what must not be negotiable and what can and must be negotiable. Fear must give way.
In individualistic isolation, where we are driven to the isolating and individualistic cities and towns, away from earth and connections, and into the oblivion of socio-economic “happiness” — we must, I feel, find ways to resist that which is being handed to us; to resist that which we are so sure of; to resist that which tells us ‘this is me” and “this is them” that would otherwise open up ways to work together with differences that we may not like, but do not threaten us.
But now it can only be a dream because people want to be psychologically comfortable and safe. It is the middle-class aspiration that grips us in becoming more and more unable to cope with struggle and change. We become entrenched, believing that freedom is being squeezed out. Indeed it is. But not by “them.”
Peace is not an absence of conflict. But we need not escalate conflict to aggression and genocide. We practice colonial ways of relations and aspirations that kill diversity and freedom. The way to investigate this is to study our histories, outside of the textbooks, outside of what makes us comfortable, understanding the authors and who they are and to not see them as either enemies or friends until we understand who we are and what we want.
Experimenting, questioning, are important. I say this because the past is here. mixed with our present constructions, our present identity. Our future is also here. What we do right now, impacts what will happen or not, in the future. Acknowledging our own difference, and that of those we love and care for, and not wanting everyone to be someone we like or not like, to invest more of our energy in non-individualism but not to follow blindly but to continue to interrogate who we are and where we are and histories and cultures………this would be hard in our busy busy busy busy lives. But what, exactly, are we really busy with? What replaces justice and peace and difference? I’m sure you will begin to see that what has replaced what I feel are important, with things that “society” has put into that space, distracting us.
Gain back your power.