Humanity: Can We See The Forest For The Trees? genre: Hip-Gnosis & Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

Can We See The Forest For The Trees

We've all heard the expression, "Can't see the forest for the trees". It's simple yet poignant, and it's message is abundantly accurate...yet all too often ignored. In the last few days, all I've been able to see is the forest...not because I possess prescient abilities or feel that I'm above the fray; rather because there are times when the fray is so disheartening that I'm pushed over the edge into what I have long called my moments of hyper-reality...those periods of time when I let myself see and feel all that I've learned to suppress in accordance with the rules we've established and accepted in this sometimes all too calloused existence.

Look, I'm no angel and I'm not writing this to garner any accolades or to assert any position of advanced awareness. More likely, I'm writing to purge what feels like a persistent period of ad hominem attacks and the hatred which now accompanies our efforts to extend one groups hegemony over another.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy robust dialogue and I'm more than willing to engage in an argument. Notwithstanding, I ultimately attempt to see others as more than objects in an elaborate chess game...pawns one can sacrifice in order to succeed. Yes, it is a slippery slope because we all encounter individuals we believe exert more influence over our environment than we believe is reasonable...which leads us to conclude it is a right or even a requirement to undermine or end their authority.

In a representative government, we enlist others to act as our emissaries and we hope they do so with conscience and consideration. Unfortunately, there are times when the divisions are so pronounced that elections serve to embolden one faction while negating another. Sadly, America seems to be locked in that dynamic and I'm not optimistic our intentions or our efforts are designed to extinguish it.

Let me provide some context. I don't understand what is sought or achieved in making the wearing of a lapel pin a relevant measure of a presidential candidate's patriotism...in reducing one's support or objection to the Iraq war to a debate about whether we issue a congressional condemnation of a political advertisement by MoveOn.org and/or the political ramblings of Rush Limbaugh...in drafting lists of Republicans and Democrats who have committed crimes or ill-advised acts in order to paint half of America's beliefs as wrong and half as right...in assaulting the credibility of a twelve year old boy and his family in Baltimore in order to determine the threshold by which our nation intends to extend access to necessary health care...in pointing to the circumstances behind the death of a minister in Alabama as the means to invalidate the agenda of the religious right or those opposed to them and their agenda...in arguing that a poster using the imagery of The Last Supper for a gay event in San Francisco either proves or disproves that gays are anti-Christian and therefore either good or bad people.

As I was thinking about all of these issues and getting ready for bed last night, I wrote down the following words, "Can we actually argue that we love America if we spend so much of our time hating so many other Americans? Does America even exist if our perceptions of her and what she represents are so polarized? When did we stop being the United States of America?"

Frankly, I've begun to think that America has become the equivalent of two people locked in a surly and pathetic marriage...one in which the participants have become so resentful that neither side has any interest in communicating; rather each side rails on endlessly about each and every aspect of the other such that little, if anything, about the other remains acceptable or warrants anything but ridicule and abject animosity.

I don't know what we want anymore...and in saying as much it becomes evident that just seeing the forest doesn't cure what ails the trees which inhabit it. What once were similar beings weathering the same storms, being nourished from the same soil, drinking from the same stream, have seemingly become twisted and gnarly protrusions...self-absorbed and obtuse...fighting for their share of the sun while wantonly casting shadows of immense darkness.

Worse yet, what lies beneath is even more convoluted and entangled...a mess of barnacled beliefs entwined in a battle for validation...each day more entrenched...locked in a deadly game of tug of war...one that advances out of sight but is clearly marked by the heaving soil upon which we walk and have apparently come to accept. Passed from tree to tree like an insidious disease, death is measured in agonizing inches...a slow yet certain culling of those less able or less willing to defend against the ever advancing encroachments.

Like an overgrown forest, there is no time to mourn the dead...the fallen become fodder for the formative saplings who grow stronger in their beliefs as they are encouraged to feast upon the carnage...each tribe elated at the other's loss...each death an opportunity to acquire more literal and figurative territory...each birth an affirming act and a source of hope that the tribe will one day defeat the demon and thus be granted their deserved dominion.

In a world where gardens have given way to garrisons, what we cultivate is more apt to kill than to coddle. Instead of giving thanks for the bounty mother earth provides, we beseech her to yield to our demands and then we ignore her cries for consideration. Are we not a species out of sync with our world? If we are, then did we not become so by first being a society in the throes of a self-sustaining suicide spiral?

In this last man standing mind set, there may be a survivor...but rest assured there will be no solace and no salvation. Humanity may continue to build its future on the bones of the beleaguered, but when that task is completed, our humanity will be nowhere to be found. I weep at the thought.

Tagged as: Barack Obama, Folsom Street Fair, Gary Aldridge, Graeme Frost, Humanity, MoveOn.org, Rush Limbaugh

Daniel DiRito | October 10, 2007 | 9:13 AM
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