Damage and Healing

And here’s a phrase that I have come across and said way too many times this year- “This world is fundamentally broken.” With that said, what are the implications of such a broken world and what brokenness can we zero in on during the time the book Cry, The Beloved Country by Alan Paton was written.

The external brokenness in this literary work is easy to identify. What it comes down to is racism. I believe everyone will agree that it will be an impossibility to talk about the book without bringing this issue to mind. The problem of racism is a prominent and blatant one. That’s exactly what Apartheid was- racism. And that is exactly what the greatest external brokenness of that period was. And Paton’s answer and solution to this fundamentally global problem is one that is extremely idealistic- forgiveness. It doesn’t make sense. Forgive the oppressors? Logic would dictate that this would be the last possible answer anyone would come to after hundreds of years of abuse and being beaten down time and time again. But the catch is that it happened. And the bigger mystery is that it happened successfully and still serves as an example to be followed in conflicts by the rest of the world everywhere. It happened and it was successful. The ideal was achieved, even if for a while. That is Paton’s solution. A solution that unbeknownst to him was to be carried out at the moment of judgement. A solution that he himself helped create. A solution that makes no sense. A solution that brings light back to humanity and highlights all that is not yet wrong with humanity. A solution deemed impossible, carried out by an entire country. A demonstration contrary to the adverseness of human nature that we are used to and a demonstration that underlines the best of humanity.

The internal damage is a bit more complicated. But then again, it’s overly blatant as well. The internal brokenness in my opinion in the book is greed. It is greed alone that led to the system of Apartheid. It is the greed to be wealthy that caused the upper class to push down the ones below them. It is greed alone that corrupted. It is greed alone because of which money became a symbol of corruptness and negativity. But then again, it is also greed because of which the human race has progressed as far as it has. One can argue that without greed society would not have needed to develop. Ruthless greed brought on weapons that can destroy the world, but it also brought on advances that can sustain the world. It single-handedly destroyed the world and also gave us ways to sustain it. And thus the solution that Paton hints at for this problem is not very apparent. It’s easy to shift into the spiritual domain at this point and yes, I believe that ultimately, that is the key to fixing not only this, but every inner brokenness. But perhaps a more direct way he offers a solution is by stressing how greed must never cross certain boundaries. We can’t stop being greedy, but we can stop it’s effects if we take into account that in being greedy for something, we must never hate someone else.

That is the answer that I can derive as a solution to this problem from the book. And that is the solution that I will personally try to live by as I progress through life from now on. Maybe it won’t change the world. But even if it impacts a handful few, that raises the potential threshold for revitalizing change by leaps and bounds. That is the ideal I strive for.

-Raving Ranter

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“Othering”- A social dilemma

I am not really sure what to write on this blog, but i will make an attempt nonetheless.

The concept of “othering” is not new to me. It has one that i have had to deal with for much of my life and honestly, we all have to deal with this for the rest of our lives as well. Because the idea of how othering is the “central to the way in which societies establish identity categories” (Zevallos 1) is an overwhelmingly sad, but undeniably true statement that governs our society today, and at the rate we are going, will continue to dominate how we form social relations far in the future as well.

I grew up in Bangladesh where I was always branded as the “Christian kid” and quite blatantly I have often heard my peers there refer to me as someone who does not belong with them. The mentality can be best described as an “Us vs him” disposition. So from early childhood, this was a concept that had been well ingrained into my brain. But it’s unfair to just lay it all on them. This mentality went both ways. Subtle as it may have been, the fact that I was different from “them” never left my mind. As a Christian I had to act differently. I had restrictions they didn’t and they had restrictions I did not have. Wherever I went within the confinements of the school, this was a notion that I had no escape from, and rightfully so, because this concept does exist and leading up to my experiences in life, I find this unavoidable.

Even here at ICS I see this concept play out in day do day interactions. It’s not a surprise that grades are often divided into cliques by nationality. This is how we reinforce our identity. We find similar- minded people and we stick to them while we refer to groups that we see around us as and in our subconscious we mark and label them despite our best intentions. It is something that none of us can guard against, and if we could guard against it, it would be at the expense of greatly diminishing our personal identity or even losing it. A group identity is strong because it exists in a group that has other groups to compare that identity against. Will we ever be able to escape this mentality, individually or as a group? I don’t know yet, and apparently sociologists and psychologists don’t have the answer to this question either. This is how we have survived this far, and perhaps this is how we will continue to live on in the future as well. Is there a real point to questioning it then? There definitely is, but as to what point or what conclusion we can arrive at, I don’t know.

Definitely this concept of othering has been lessened. No longer in today’s society do we see the prejudiced actions outlined in the book Cry The Beloved Country play out on a global or national scale to the extent it once had. And that is a good thing. It shows as a race we have been making progress. We don’t divide up quarters for Whites and Blacks anymore. Schooling is no longer divided into sections. This problem has not ceased to exist but it has been greatly minimized. As a race as a whole, we are all the more wiser for it. But will we ever reach a point where we will be able to relate to and love everyone without marking or labeling them in our heads at all? I don’t believe so, but that doesn’t mean it will stop me from trying.

 

-Raving Ranter

How to write about poets

It’s quite possibly the simplest thing really. But you are not allowed to say that. Build up an air of subdued tension and use as many dramatic shifts and turns in narrations as possible. Even the simplest of statements should be comprised of nothing less than three lines connected by symbols, dashes or anything else you can find in the middle. But that is just the natural way you are to pace out your syntax and diction. Here’s the real framework. Once again it’s simple. Assume nothing but that being a poet requires an experience so scarring and shocking, that almost none of your audience members should be able to live through it the same way.

Poets battle depression, they have seen wars, they have all been on the verge of suicide, they have lived life how they wished and now they either regret it, or they are still stuck in a perpetual cycle of depression. To write about poets, you need to make the fact that they have struggled more than any other number of people on this planet abundantly clear. Oh and yeah, never, and I mean NEVER even consider the fact that a poet can come from a happy past, a happy childhood, can be born of happy memories or can be good poets just because it is something they enjoy. No, it has been, and will always have to be much more dramatic and ground-breaking than that!

Now that you have set up the fall, time to prepare for the redemption. Find some ever increasingly pretentious or self righteous way to describe how at the worst point in their lives, the people aforementioned turned to poetry. This is a truth. But you need to make it more than that. Creative outlets save people for sure, but you also need to dramatize it’s importance to each and every poet there is, was and ever will be. As I said before- no poet ever came to be one out of happiness. That just doesn’t work! Mention how poetry served as an expressive medium for them, and then mention how much they struggled along to find their true selves even when writing poetry. Also, whatever you do, don’t forget the occasional mention of trauma, suicide and depression that should be sprinkled in every so often to keep the tome dark and brooding.

Lastly, commit a major fallacy in logic. Every passage you can find of a poem written by poets- mis-translate them to fit your needs. There is a saying that no interpretation is the wrong interpretation. Take that to the precipice. All of this needs to be supported by as much as ‘evidence’ as you can gather up. If there is a poet who grew up in a happy house, translate the verses he wrote to signify inner-lying depression even if no one ever considered that to be the case. As long as you can keep the quotes fairly out of context of the original poem, you should be fine. And finally, end with how life is always a battle. End with how everyone who is a poet has experienced the worst that humanity has to offer. End with how their words have reached millions and revolutionized the world. In other words, end with broad feeling-like statements that imply a happy future but at the same time also points back to how poets are always depressed and suicidal. You need to give them redemption, but you also need to give them chains that bind that redemption down.

And obviously, this goes without saying- remember that the final sentence should be as cheesy as possible, preferably, it should be the poet’s own work, but feel free to use other literary sources as well. At any rate, other than cheesy, the only qualification it has to meet is being the epitome of pretentiousness that this world has to offer. Doesn’t matter if it does not apply whatsoever to the poet you are writing this piece on. They will probably not read it anyways.

And finally. REMEMBER- THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A HAPPY POET! and if there ever was one, make it not be so.

-Raving Ranter.