Past Future Presents

Being willing and able to stand out. Not stand amongst. Daring to be counted for or against. Being the binaried other. The up to the down side .

Three writers

Three weeks

Three stories and many many more. James, Davis and Thomas. All came to London, all discussed their books and visions.

All at the Southbank Centre. London.

All witnessed by the Grateful I.

All Inspirational.

All willing the next generation of writers, to pick up and sign on the Ether: that is fabric, that trick of time, a slice of magic.

With Angie Thomas the bright energy of her torch is carried aloft and loudly. Her message is one of hope and endearing those who are young, to knock down the doors to the banquet. Not ask for a seat at the table. Take the table and the hall!

Healing as action, a right for the young the mature, for the willing and the able.

For Marlon James – Black Leopard and Red Wolf was a call out for healing. Split psyches, broken dreams and promises, pooling resources and hollowing out ones own truth from African spirituality and new/old mythology.

For Angela Davis the story too was also about healing and about activism and about spanning histories and movements like a fan. My notes cannot do her enough justice so I cobble these sentences to scramble my meanings – together and then loosen.

In three short weeks I recognised that we are speeding towards a downpour of words, acts and decisions that have the potential to irrevocably change minds hearts and futures. Whatever the outcomes some ideas remain, things change – Always

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Leader

Educationally Missing.

Disappearing

There are a number of stories that capture the experience of unmet potential, stories of people falling and staying down long before they had chance to fly.

Having supported teenagers in schools and working in rehabilitative settings for service users. The experiences of: loss, betrayal, resentment, let down, anger, low mood, dis-regulation of the maturation process and abdication of responsibility appear to have an accumulative effect to understanding being made about life paths. An unknown internal point is not reached or appreciated and a resulting cacophony then is the result.

Heightened Stress

As Dr. Lori Desautels and Michael McKnight have illustrated in their 1st book Unwritten the Story of a Living System. A person, especially a child does not grow well and develop within an environment of high stress and high anxiety.

The result is a reduced sense of self-esteem, reduced mental capacity to uptake new information, lowered tolerance to *stressors, heightened response to survival habits of Freeze-Flight-Fight-Friend actions, hostile engagements with others, use of explosive language and behaviour to process and deal with challenge and of pupils forming uneasy volatile alliances with pseudo friends and ‘family’.

‘I’ll hang around with you, if you and your group protect and don’t victimise or bully me. And if you do I am in the In Group so that’s okay.’ How long before the quasi friendship turns into manipulation? Where anti-social activities are the order? Where thrill seeking is obtained through risky behaviours. Where aggression and rule breaking appear normal?

Would the (apparently unbreakable) association/link/connection with the group take an evening? A weekend? A Month? A Term?

Regression

The worrying aspect I find with working at a stage of a person’s negative spiral (prison in my case) is the sense of hope being lost. Of individuals giving up on themselves, their families, on rehabilitating and returning from prison and by-passing society as a whole.

Primary desistance may have been achieved. Secondary desistance may still be a process that is being worked with by a prisoner or service user. Tertiary desistance is where a moral and societal shift occurs in the service user and the individual recognises themselves as part of, not a part from, society – their community. Counselling I find can be useful with a person’s 3rd stopping point.

Tip Point

I witness what the result of stripping social services are for vulnerable people and communities. Crime increase, homelessness, experiences of people in mental distress visible and not able to be cared for by hospitals or carers. What frustrates me is that the experience my son is having with his school and peers could be impacted on positively.

The pain filled progression of pupils, a percentage of whom that are permanently excluded from school (that had the potential to be a pro-social engagement), are victims to, or perpetrators of street violence, join illegal import and export dis-organisations (anti social engagement) to eventually becoming labelled and branded socially unsuitable, un-fit for ‘non offending populations’.

Being removed from mainstream education where students either attend alternative provision for less time than mainline school I feel is a damning move for students, school and society overall. Pupils earn less time being supervised by adults that can provide adequate pro social modelling. Feeding the productionline.

Committed Action

The need then as mentioned in Ignored Song would be for individuals from a range of backgrounds and experiences to provide support to a range of school experiences across the country to ameliorate the perspective some young people have about the world in which they live. And to change how schools and teachers view and support disorganised pupils.

The world does not have to be a dangerous and risky place where disagreements could cost several young people their lives. The aim would be to not minimise their understanding or patronise, but would be to offer challenge and support growth. To see beyond the barriers and horizons they may have erected to protect themselves.

Incision

In 2017 I approached a number of alternative school provisions with an initiative to run morning workshops to groups of students. The theme delivering thinking skills with the topic of psychology as the main driver.

My interest in psychology firmly rooted because of the counselling course. Witnessing that our world is governed by psychology increases my fascination. Psychology is a growth from Philosophy and I am in absolute awe of the impact thought has on us as humans. Continuing discoveries in neuroscience perpetually astound me.

Discussing psychological ideas with students at alternative school provisions in London I felt had the potential to be transformative. When a person begins to come upon a new realisation it is like a gift that was buried. Once unearthed the gleam of treasure that crosses a person’s face is priceless for me – every time.

B-Boy 

Prisoners

Working at a prison with service users in Kent, the look after they realise a hard earned truth feels the same. The service user often points and subtly rears back; like a soft push has just happened. Then a small smile is offered and the subtle shaking of their head. Astonishment!

The chance to experience and practice on the world the new found thing for service users in prison is sometimes delayed by the length of their sentences. Trial runs of new thought and behaviour can be made prior to release in prison with some degree of success. They may alter thinking traps and patterns or their behaviour may flip to be outgoing and light. Interactions with a peer, or group of others could do likewise and change to the positive with new thoughts.

My want was to work with school attendees before they entered the criminal justice system and had negatively altered their lives or the life of others dramatically, irreversibly. Reducing the impact and societies unconscious load that it projects onto those that it classes as criminal. No. We should not wait until our son’s and daughters are detained within secure environments before we develop packages of support. The change I believe has to start now!

The invitation/demand especially in light of Britain teetering on the edge of Exiting the European Union is:

We all must want better now for all.

We have to face up to the challenge.

We must all be willing to work to achieve a brighter tomorrow.

To be the last person standing is not what my son or young people seek. An unblocked, unfettered, untainted future is…

Michael McKnight writes

The Path to Connecting with- Kids “at-risk”. ( Brendtro and Seita )

1. Recast all problems as learning opportunities. 
2. Provide opportunities for fail-safe relationships.
3. Increase dosages of nurturance.
4. Don’t crowd.
5. Find their passion.
6. Decode the meaning of behavior.
7. Be “authoritative”. 
8. Model respect to disrespectful youth. 
9. Enlist troubled youth as team members. 
10. Preemptive connecting.
11. Give seeds time to grow. 
12. Keep positive expectations alive. 

#resilience

Resources

TED Talk Radio Hour School

Code Switch Raising Kings

Togethered Learning

Educational Misses

Frank Morrison’s Art I have long admired. This work is titled as Arithmetic. The pose of both students is emblematic

The state of education

My eldest son aged 11, came home from school recently and shared that he had concerns about his experiences that have troubled and alarmed me. As his father I want nothing more than to protect and shield him from the shadier elements of London living. I realise however the contradiction as I write, because I have worked in prisons for over four years. I have also worked with vulnerable people on the margins of society and that live in the shade for over 8 years. Deepening and grading my perspective considerably.

Working for almost 4 years with Together a National charity that supported service users and probation officers and courts in London. Together’s highly skilled team of practitioners provide mental health support and psycho education to service users involved within London’s criminal Justice System. 

‘*Shade is a factor of life, it precedes and follows light.’

An Event Horizon
Shade and Light – Event Horizon

Transfer

My son has moved from a well-resourced primary school with a committed PTA (Parent Teacher Association) with middle class values and expectations to a secondary school that whilst being in the same neighborhood seems to not be as well supported. The commitment the school has appears geared to raising it’s educational achievements as a secondary school. The social and emotional development of it’s pupils seems to have been overlooked. The documentary called School emphasises what the lack of investment and resources has meant for secondary schools across the country.

Aggress

My son reports that nearly every day there are playground fights and his year group are involved with something called “violating” other pupils. A form of engaging negatively with another pupil that shames them and makes them either react aggressively or retreat from social engagements. Which can have a huge social impact on students – limiting the scope of making firm social connections and friends and bearing witness to the challenges of inner city life.

John Leguizamo’s Latin History for Morons on Netflix is a phenomenal expose on growing up ‘Othered’ within a country that does not want to accept it’s involvement with the systematic destruction and demonisation of several groups of people and their cultures. Ghetto Rage is a topic of interest John mentioned that I will further investigate and write about soon. 

Refuse

As a 40 something year old man I don’t understand the culture of school being a site for malevolence and cruelty committed by pupils as vulnerable as peers of my son’s against fellow pupils. Being assertive is a factor of living learning and growing. Bullying as part of systemic form of disorganised peer oppression troubles me.

My son simply does not want to go to his school or participate in any of the senseless acts of pseudo violence, passive and active forms of aggression
as a result, or other acts of hyper masculinity that seem to have besieged his year group. What is going wrong I wonder with state education? Why are young women and young men acting in harmful ways to other children and themselves and what can we all do about it?

Switch

I doubt I will be able to find the answers in this piece of writing however I can raise my concerns and offer ideas of possible ways forward. I wonder if a member of parliament’s child were attending my son’s state school what they would think/see/feel?

I am disappointed that the choices we are left to think through are: exiting the school, non-attendance and living with a sense of anxiety that has grown in my son and through our family. The social development versus academic achievement focus appears to have been the split that this school has made.

The thinking I have is that the school has grossly under estimated the effect that the focus and pressure toward academia could have on it’s key stage 3 and 4 progression results and overall exam achievements. A
socially and emotionally balanced pupil could perform 
academically better. Not just at exams but in life also. 

Something Else

Perhaps another way is to be found with education that invites collaboration, communication and creativity. Few children my son included are without the curiosity to look for answers or create story’s that make sense of the worlds that they inhabit. For their, our children’s, worlds are different to ours. They face challenges that are new for the planet, maybe we should be teaching all differently…  

Resources

Akala and Education

TES Small Schools Work

Psychopathy: Test

Apex

There are moments one dreams of experiencing that I had in October 2018. I had the chance of delivering a lecture to a group of forensic psychology students at the University of East London. The subject was mental Illness and crime. This was the 3rd time of me delivering this lecture and it all came together like the perfect picture. I was given a breakdown of possible protagonists and activists amongst the students. The promise that the group were usually quiet, by the course director Ms Kougiali, was thankfully unmet.

Review Data

EZ Poxy Shimmer

Shimmer

Perhaps it was my brief introduction and experience but the group of roughly 40 students did not let up with comments and questions about the lecture I delivered. They stated as one that some of the material was; too broad, that the stats needed refining in relation to ages, classification of mental illness, the gender of data groups and where the data sources had come from.

Urm note to Michael try harder please!

Winning

I found that I loved the engaging-challenging-rewarding interaction! The buzz of the room felt hard won and not wholly mine – more ours. I have had a number of teaching and lecturing experiences over the past few years starting at University of Greenwich, then as a VL at UEL and recently teaching at a college just outside of London on a level 1 counselling skills course.

Listening

Abstraction Art

Abstract Interpretation

All teaching experiences draw something different from me, there is the all-knowing sage that I aim to be, the old enough yet down enough sharer of counselling mythology, the witty soothsayer sharing what needs to be said for those who have ears to hear. October the 24th was like the perfect blend.

Balance

My style of lecturing is part performance poetry, comedy, debate class, philosophy and counselling pedagogy/theory for balance. My last class with year 2 students at University of Greenwich in May, much of the above was the experience. Teaching/Lecturing appeared to flow effortlessly. It sort of came together as a perfect storm with students sharing, my presentation slides, personal anecdotes of counselling and life experiences all rolled out and accessed by all. That lecture for Greenwich was on What Next? Offering ideas of potential routes beyond year 2.

Forensic Populations

What I enjoyed most about the work with UEL students was that they challenged me and I them! The challenge thrown about the lecture room was the idea of mental illness and psychopathy. Ultimately the idea realised was that many involved in the criminal justice system in the UK if tested and or diagnosed, many may have untreated learning difficulties, depression, anxiety, have experienced trauma, suffer with PTSD symptoms and have a personality disorder, as well as a dual diagnosis of substance misuse or alcohol addiction.

We All Psychopaths

Seeing Dutch Windmills

Blue Abstraction

Everyone in the lecture theatre if they took a psychopathy test would score something between a low to a high psychopathy score, making us all psychopaths to lesser or greater degrees. That includes you dear reader!

The reflective quality of this realisation hit in the 2nd hour after a number of students offered their opinions on the recent film on Netflix 22nd of July. The film about the impact Anders Breivik had on Norway stirred up some controversial ideas and debate in relation to mental illness and acts of self-preservation.

A student shared that we all have the potential to commit acts of violence that were either based on our beliefs or state of un-wellness. I volunteered to complete a psychopathy test listed here the Levenson Psyschopathy self test. Which takes roughly 5-10 minutes to complete https://openpsychometrics.org/tests/LSRP.php. I scored a 2.9. The scores from this test I see more as an indicator for me, rather than a confirmed diagnosis. I mentioned that I would share my results with the class if interested. I now do so with you too.

Invite

I wonder what your psychopathy test scores are and what they say about you?

The thing I enjoy most about writing about multi-layered experiences is what others find through reading these posts and then share. If there are other psychopathy tests that are an improvement on the one listed here please share below. Thanks for reading and for your ongoing support.

Further Reading

The Atlantic
https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2018/03/a…the…psychopathy/555335/

The Independent
https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/the-difference-between-a-psychopath-and-a-sociopath-10422016.html

Snap Judgement Science and the Psychopath
https://www.npr.org/2015/07/10/421625310/the-scientist-and-the-psychopath

Criminal Podcast The Money Tree
https://thisiscriminal.com/episode-51-money-tree-8-23-2016/

Concert of Chaos

Collusively Clueless

The 4 Horsemen of Marvel’s Apocalypse captivated me reading about the exploits of the X-Men in the mid 90s. An attempt is made here to understand collusion alongside the characters of the four Horsemen.

Collusion

/kəˈl(j)uːʒ(ə)n/

noun

secret or illegal cooperation or conspiracy in order to deceive others.
“the armed forces were working in collusion with drug traffickers”

synonyms:

conspiracy, connivance, complicity, intrigue, plotting, secret understanding, collaboration, scheming
“there has been collusion between the security forces and paramilitary groups”


The Four Horsemen

War – Conflict, Aggression, Destruction
Pestilence – Disease, Poverty, Bitterness
Famine – Paucity, Lack of growth, Waste
Death – The End?

Collusion = Death

War, Famine, Pestilence, Death,

Transport

The leader – Apocalypse and his battles with the X-Men transported me from the ongoing contests of growing up amongst a landscape that was foreign to me. Recognising that a civil war was being waged and I was an unwilling yet active participant.

Cambridgeshire of the late 80s -brushes with intolerance and parochial identities troubled my big city sensibilities.

I saw the battles of Professor X and the X-Men as great examples of battling their times experiences of misunderstanding, intolerance,  bigotry and ignorance against mutants as similar to my own; facing prejudice, stereotyping and poverty.

Uniformed

They battled the forces of perceived evil valiantly wearing their newly designed uniforms and with powers they were born with or had augmented. Either by chance encounters or deliberately designed by other super beings.

I faced my adversarial experiences with nothing more than dreams, humour, art and staying within my very narrow lane.

War riding

War the 1st of the Four Horsemen

Insight

Not so anymore. The lane has changed to a hyperlinked expessway. I have earned my own superpower. After working at a young people’s cafe as a project manager/youth worker, training as a counsellor, over 10 years being involved with the criminal justice service in London. With insightful observations, purposeful listening and curious person centred questioning, my appreciation of life’s challenges has grown.

I am now able to peer behind the curtain, on a number of levels of human endeavour: including historical legacy and achievement, sociological factors, financial impacts of choice and *philo-psychological matters. Providing a way of perceiving life through lenses that recognise hidden games within games.

Seduced

One game that I recognise is the act of collusion. We may all have been guilty of agreeing to someone or something that would usually be dismissed or flat out refused.

The art of collusion is that it invites individuals to agree with someone that normally would be told No! Ego strength may be low, energy could be zapped from a long hard day, agreeing could be seen as the quickest way to get the person to shut up and leave you alone. Think of the whiney kid asking for sweets or ice cream or the latest console game for the nth time. We know we shouldn’t but to bring halt to the noise we agree and then offer excuses that soothe the guilty consciousness that kicks in with unhelpful comments.

Offering disease

Pestilence of the Four Horsemen

Pact Breaking

Collusion usually holds all in a pact like agreement that usually is unbreakable. Until something significant happens. The event usually piques through defences and invites those in the confused circle to question their motives. These motives and the associated guilt that starts to get stirred up can be enough to disturb the pack. When events are undeniable, disastrous and invite others who are not involved to wince and question the sanity of those involved in the collusive acts, a breakthrough may well be achieved. Think of the Stanford Prison Experiment, the Abu Graib Prison exposé, Guantanamo Bay or your favourite celebrity tv show: TOWIE, Love Island, Celebrity big Brother, The Apprentice, the Great British Bake Off… Are we all participants of collusion by watching and switching off the parts of ourselves that thinks and feels? Saying it’s just a TV show, it’s harmless, it’s just entertainment. Note the defence and the denial…

Ignore

Collusion is a part of our working lives and inserts itself as a part of most companies way of operating. Simply seducing workers to believe that this is a way of getting things done. Think about the last time a person in the organisation was bullied, overstepped, not had their opinions heard or validated by others and a collusive pact formed to not hear any more from that employee. Denying that employee, a colleague, space, time, validity to share their points. Then, that employee labelled a troublemaker, someone not playing ball, a misfit,  a person unwilling to play in the game the company has asserted as the right one to be played.

Following Pestilence taking all

Famine the 3rd Horseman of Apocalypse

Open

The point arrived at is the ‘troublemaker’ has every right to make noise about what they see as wrong or unjust or unethical or not in the best interests of the company or those that the organisation serves. Ultimately a reflective company would attempt to listen to the person with the suggestions/comments and seek to understand what is to be adjusted to make that employee content with the operation, or suggested new ways of doing things.

Inflexible 

A collusive pact does not do this. It destroys the persons that are attempting to better the organisation or the way the company does things. Tarnishing the labelled persons and remaining wrong and strong. Throwing shade rather than accepting other ideas or another way of doing things is a cowardly act. Insidious and spite filled. As Luke Roberts once said, if people or a company are unwilling to recognise and respond to changing environments, they are doomed.

Altered Angel

The Archangel Death the 4th Horseman

Backwards

As a mutant team Apocalypse’s collection of War, Pestilence, Famine and Death brought doom. The 4 Horse Men are a perfect depiction of a company’s attempt to avoid recession, regression, conflict and collapse. Mistrust, illness, en masse staff departure and recruitment of new staff members are often a result of a number of factors happening within an organisation. With the domino effect in motion those involved with the collusive pact attempt to fast fix gaps in the provision of services. Leading to new challenges and difficulties for all. Within an ever diminishing circle of cause effect and reaction and not looking beyond the next crises companies can take a while to reverse the rot.

In order to change direction, first one must stop… The challenge for some is when?

A number of media sources that discuss collusion and integrity.

This American Life – Airport
Serial S3 – You in the Red Shirt
Well-being Ivan Robertson Carey Cooper
TED Talks Radio Hour Quiet

Mental Models

A Hierarchy

Visible Air

Water and Vapor – Mirrored

The theories and understandings that one fashions for oneself can be as relative to living as other more established ideas. We live in a just and fair society, Good things happen to good people and vice versa, Luck is man made, Every Cloud has a Silver Lining, What goes up has to come down. Life is for the living. Thoughts can include “I am a good, bad, fortunate, unlucky, beautiful, weak, faithful, invisible, resilient, conniving… person”. Which may be true some of the time.

Counselling Models

Studying to become a counsellor a number of theories and models were presented for us to learn. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, Freud’s Id, Ego and Super Ego, Karpman’s Victim, Persecutor and Rescuer, The Parent Child and Adult, Spheres of influence, Internal locus of control/influence and External locus of Control/Influence, Prochaska and Di-Clemente’s Cycle of change, attachment models by Ainsworth and Bowlby, the transactional relationship and my favourite Petruska Clarkson’s 5 Relationships Model.

Tailor Made

Clarkson’s model was impactful as it helped me to recognise the similarities and some of the differences had between major schools of thought within psychological and counselling theory. John Nuttall once delivered a lecture on the breadth and life span of psychotherapy and many of it’s twists and developments, on my 2nd year of my counselling course. My work with Laos helped to develop my thinking and practice as an integrative counsellor. Integration has been a useful way of encountering my work. Blending a number of different counselling models together creatively, intuitively enables those that I work with to gain a nuanced and individual experience of working with me no matter the setting – Individually Tailored.

Criminal Justice

With over 10 years of working with the UK’s criminal justice system there have been a number of realisations made about detention, rehabilitation and being on probation in the community. The experience of being a law breaker appears to carry a life sentence that burdens both the service user and those that they are close to and possibly society as a whole. A triangle of sorts could then exist for us all. Each side or corner being unwilling to carry the weight of blame shame and pain on behalf of the other. In effect pushing it away from one side to another. It returns in ways that are surprising and upsetting: Incidents of break ins, street robbery’s, car theft, mugging, assaults, depression, anxiety, increasing laws for surveillance of the populace. The cause…

Odd Triangle

A Triangle of Sorts

Loss

The cause I believe is manifold and complex, not that an attempt at explaining or understanding should not be sought. As social beings we live amongst a number of groupings that support our development and perceptions of the world in which we live. Family, culture, gender, race, physical and mental ability, education, class, religion, time, culture and the society one is raised in can support an individuals development. Many from the list can also be attributed to lead someone to have disastrous outcomes – for life’s opportunities to become lost.

Tide reversal

Were aspects of a person’s life to be out of balance i.e. with limited access to health services, experiences of poverty, early experiences of violence, witnessing substance misuse and experiences thereof, familial education attainment low and un-supportive, petty crime viewed as a survival engagement.

Sun Sea Sparkling

Tides

A person being raised amongst a set of challenges familiar to those involved with forensic backgrounds could find themselves with difficulties that they did not ask for but royally given. Laws, policing, prison, adjudications, societal exclusion are often unlikely to reverse a tide that may have already gone out. Unless…

20 – 60 – 20

There are groups within groups. A visit to Rochester prison in 2017 helped to define the who could be rehabilitated and who perhaps the tide had gone out permanently for. Within any population or group there are percentages of people that are hardened and will always think that they have a way of working things to their benefit and will never change, perhaps have been jaded and have no good reason to. Then there are a percentage of people who are unsure or ambivalent to change and will give anything a try in a half assed way. The last group are the die-hards who recognise that to have any chance of success, commitment to a new way is the only way to bring change and maintain it.

Hard Change

The first 20% may have been in the group just below at one time in their lives. They tried to make the necessary steps to achieve success, but were not believed, found to be lacking the stuff to stick with it and ultimately fell foul of persistent negative thinking patterns and negative events. Becoming convinced that no change is coming and that they are content enough. The term throw away the key is often used for people that present themselves as devoid of hope, lacking empathy to engage with others and have walled themselves in to their dark prism. Should we key throw? Is the choice to agree with their view of the world a necessary acquiescence?

Half in Half out

The 2nd group of 60% are willing to make attempts at change. With successes and positive outcomes change is possible. The challenge is maintaining resilience were things to not happen as quickly, were aspects of success to become failure, were short term gains to turn into losses. Do the 60% group have the ability to keep chipping away? What internal and external supports are they able to draw on to continue on a path that offers a glimmer of something better?

Die Hards

The 3rd group are those who have recognised that by maintaining themselves well they are further ahead. Achieving life goals and turning their once ambivalent/negative perceptions to more positive ones supports their chances of contributing in a meaningful way to their lives and  the lives of others living fully. These are men and women who have found a purpose, a talent, gift, a way to make sense of all that had occurred and have the capacity to make peace and plot another path beyond, away from and towards.

Panoply

I realise that I have presented a number of challenging ideas around change for various groups of people. The training and education I have experienced have enabled me to notice plot twists and the art to life. Recognising when and where opportunities for growth change and are possible. When progress stalls or reverses what chance is there to hold on for? A few years ago I developed a way of viewing recidivism in the UK as a collection of interconnected health goals – another model was realised. I discussed the idea with a number of colleagues J Soame, A Willoughby and K Giakoumi as I valued their insight and all helped to develop the model further. Breaking the Cycle was born…

A few further thoughts in relation to patterns and models of thinking.

TED Talks Radio Hour – Hard Wired

Ear Hustle Podcast – The Row

Philosophy Bites Podcast – Obligations to the Needy

Fearful Belief

My introduction to the autobiography of Malcolm X was after Spike Lee’s 1992 film. I first read the autobiography 16 years ago. Written in collaboration with Alex Haley the book was the epitome of truth being even more fantastical than fiction.

The autobiography was given to me by Toby D and was a library loan. I was not able to finish the in-depth personable account of Malcolm’s story due to the fact that we were on borrowed time. Spending 3 weeks embroiled with the many twists and turns of Malcolm ‘Red’ Little’s story filled me with a sense of longing to know more about this man, his motives, the message he was sharing and about the legacy he left. Handing the book back to Toby was a wrench.

With over 100 pages read a zenith had been hinted at. I vowed that when I had the time I would buy the book and reread all that I had enjoyed at that first summer’s encounter in 2002.

A reflective Malcolm X

Malcolm X Quiet Reflection

Sadness

In January 2016, I bought the autobiography of Malcolm X, and read it cover to cover in a matter of weeks. Thrilling, surprising, mesmerising, *aweing and ultimately saddening the book turned out to be.

Being asked by a probation officer with a sneer, ‘Why I would want to read about him?’ Engaged a protective response of what the book had meant to me, I asked ‘if they had read the book?’

They answered that ‘they hadn’t’ and I offered that ‘if they did they would learn something about themselves and about America of the 1950’s -1960’s and about the world’s now.’

What I would have liked to have shared, is the utter brilliance of the story and how much of him appears to have been captured. Malcolm sharing his story with Alex Haley – the vibrancy of his epoch is gripping.

Opposite

A thought struck as I talked briefly to Mr Waters, saying my goodbyes to Together, in relation to representation and misrepresentation. What the probation officer appeared to be offering was an idea of who they had held Malcolm X to be and what they knew of him to represent – a villain, a Nation of Islam fundamentalist, a Black Nationalist. Mr Waters on reading the autobiography mentioned that he had learned much about the man and the history he had lived.

Malcolm was the someone who appears to have appeared on the wrong side of history and is forever damned for representing African American struggles in a light that was *oppositional and troubling to the US. A Country in which millions were/are continually oppressed and held to account for not attaining the impossible American dream.

Malcolm X in Chicago

Malcolm X profile

Ignorance

I mentioned to Mr Waters my knowing of the multi-millionaire sitting president of the US.
I mentioned that what I knew of Donald was that he is a successful business man. He also holds a number of perspectives about the world that I do not ascribe to. Twitter Addict.

However, my perspective of the man is skewed by the many way’s in which I know of him; TV, social media streams, radio highlights. What little I knew of Donald included newspaper reports and news about various scandals. The president appears to hold an ideology about various aspects of the world he is living in. Ultimately he wants to make the US a better, a safer place to live,

for…

Wealth

It is at this point that the Artist in me holds two mental pictures in relation to a hero of the people and a despot. Both men are possibly tied by an ideology of wanting to improve their country by making things better by being forthright and open about their visions.

The two men could not be any more different. One who was raised in poverty, the other raised in fantastical financial wealth. One provided for, through adversity and spirituality an education that was a forbearance of his future. The other who was shielded and shown that wealth, gigantic wealth was his birth right and managing that wealth took strength, foresight, finding  weakness in others and exploiting margins ruthlessly as a business person. A combatant.

Fire

Both men became leaders and my knowledge about Malcolm supersedes my awareness about Donald. I find myself protective of Malcolm and his legacy as though the history the man walked with were to be erased posthumously. Malcolm after his pilgrimage to Mecca realised the truth of his faith and sought to bring insight to the Nation’s followers and to America. The Firebrand that had previously been Malcolm’s nom de prix, had aligned to a purpose much higher than what he had become known for.

This for me is the split that the world does not acknowledge of Malcolm. He internally grew beyond the initial yoke of his past including being the main spokesperson for the Honorable Elijah Mohammad. His transformation was as dynamic as a bright light coming on in a darkened space.

Rear view The White House

The White House

Tidal

I am as unaware of Donald as the probation officer was of Malcolm. I have not witnessed a sea change of Donald’s ideas as fundamental as Malcolm’s. Given Donald’s position I am unsure if a fundamental change of his ideas would be supported, or wise for the administration to follow.

Perhaps as a planet we have moved beyond the tipping point, reason and wisdom wan.

Die cast –
Set for controversy,
Destruction
Egomania
Donald.

Fear seems to be the root cause for some of the ideas he has shared: the wall, the ban, the S bag countries of Africa, the ire about football players that knelt for the National Anthem. Expressing a limited understanding for humanity’s endeavouring spirit, the resilience, what reciprocity entails, how to collaborate and the acceptance of difference -fundamentally lost.

Dynamism calls

Change through action Malcolm X

Polar

Both men became who the world at the time needed them to be: a wall builder and a visionary seeing beyond the limits of belief, nation and person. Conquering Fear. Those who knew Malcolm appeared to value and respect the significance of his transformative walk and empowering talks.

Knowing little of Donald, I fail to recognise the value of the transformation he has brought. The doubt I hold, is toward the journey Donald has the world making, could it be as beneficial as Malcolm’s had the potential of being?

Below a few podcasts of interest:

TED Talks Radio Hour Beyond Tolerance and Prevention
Code Switch: In the Age of Trump
Pod Save the World: Trumps New War Plan
Philosophy Bites: Overdoing Democracy
Serial S3: You’ve got Some Gauls
Broad Waters podcast United States of Trump