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The Creation of the Self - That Which We Already Know

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With this post I return to the writing of That Which We Already Know. Gosh, it’s been over a month since I first began this chapter. Thank you for your patience, but I do hope you appreciated the previous two posts related to race relations. Oh, and Happy New Year!
Chapter 6 (continued) – The Creation of the Self
Please imagine once again that child that you once were. Do you remember running through the woods or through the neighborhood without concern for how fast or how far, without concern for the smoothness or clumsiness of your gate? The universe said run, and so you did. The entirety of your being said run and so it did. There is simply no arguing with the universe or the entirety of your being – not when you’re a child, anyway. Do you remember drawing or finger-painting or coloring without the question ever entering your mind as to whether you were “any good at it” or not, without the question ever entering your mind as to whether it was a worthwhile pursuit or whether you sh…

Why Would Anyone March For That Guy?

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I suppose I grew up rather clueless as to the depths of racial division in this country. That might seem strange given the fact that I grew up in an all-white neighborhood and didn’t even go to school with any non-white kids until late in my high school career. After all, the very existence of such lilywhite bastions would seem to speak pretty strongly of the existence of racial division, right? But perhaps it also points to our ability to both see the results of systemic racism without really seeing it all at the same time. Interestingly, the first step toward racial diversity at our high school didn’t even involve the enrollment of any African-Americans. It was a couple of Vietnamese refugees, so-called “Boat People”, who were the first non-whites to walk through our doors.
Despite growing up in an all-white neighborhood, I don’t recall a single instance of my parents inculcating us kids with any racist ideas. To the contrary, I remember well my mother, a British immigrant, telling…

Black and White Thinking, and Other Things Ferguson

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We likely all fall prey to it from time to time – dualistic thinking of the ‘all or nothing’ type. You know, something is either right or it’s wrong. It’s good or it’s bad. Circumstances are either pristinely perfect or they’re an unholy mess. Someone is either with us or against us, friend or foe. Such ‘black and white’ thinking might help us navigate those emotionally stressful situations that arise from time to time, it might even help us make a quick decision that we feel needs to be made, but it doesn’t much help us see the underlying reality of the situation with any clarity. In fact, ‘black and white’ thinking merely preempts our ability to see what’s really going on.
Let’s face it, though, most of the time we’re not all that interested in seeing what’s really going on. Feeling good is what we care most about. And so we gravitate to people who make us feel good about ourselves rather than those who might challenge us to grow in ways that would be healthier for both us and the …

What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up? - That Which We Already Know

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Chapter Six - That Which We Already Know
Imagine, if you will, that child of tender years that you once were – perhaps four or five or six years old. You’re at a gathering of some sort, with many of your mother’s or your father’s adult friends in attendance, or maybe relatives that you’ve never met before; and as the awkward introductions proceed at least one of the grownups smiles at you and enquires: “So, what do you want to be when you grow up?”
What would your response have been? Would you have embarked upon delighted imaginings, or begun parroting precocious certainty? Would the question have even made sense to you, or would it have left you instead with a confounded blankness? And me? Well, count me amongst the confounded, for the most part.
Oh sure, I engaged in my share of role-playing fun. As boys did at the time, we played 'Cowboys and Indians' and other war games. From time to time I even dressed up in the Batman costume my mother sewed for me and commenced to prete…

Human Karma Becomes Manifest - That Which We Already Know

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With this post I bring to a close Chapter 5 of That Which We Already Know. For those of you who are just happening upon this blog, please note that I am bringing this work to fruition in sequential order and with a minimum of editing being done on previous posts. Each post is written to stand on its own, more or less. That said, I hope you'll consider exploring this work from the beginning. Enjoy!
Chapter 5 (conclusion)
At the moment of our human birth there is no question as to the naturalness of our being. We are each a living, breathing, physical organism arising out of and interacting with this physical world with the totality of our being. But while all the other beings of the animal kingdom remain immersed in their naturalness for the remainder of their lives, we humans are an altogether different animal. We inherit the neurobiology made possible by millions of years of evolution – neurobiology that will eventually give rise to the fully developed self-awareness that makes u…

Laid to Waste - That Which We Already Know

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Chapter 5 (continued) - Laid to Waste
There were many ponds out there in the Nursery – tabletop-sized holes left behind after the occasional harvest of a shrub or sapling – deep enough to hold rainwater throughout all but the driest of summers. In its heyday the workers at Gerhardt Gardens likely filled those holes with new plantings as soon as the space became available. By the time I arrived on the scene, however, business had long been in decline. Nothing was planted by human hands out there during all the years of my childhood, and so those ponds remained year after year – growing wilder and wilder with each passing season.
I got to know those ponds well. Given their number and wide dispersal they could be encountered on virtually any random stroll; but the fact that they were often filled with multitudes of croaking frogs made them attractive destinations in their own right. When I was all alone I’d sit beside one of them, quietly waiting for the life there to either get used to …

The Darkness of Childhood - That Which We Already Know

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Chapter 5 - The Darkness of Childhood
For the most part in these pages I’ve painted a picture of childhood as a universally idyllic stage of life – a time of incomparable lightness, wonder, and grace; a time of immersion in a natural world from which we’ve not yet declared ourselves separate; a time of freedom from the worldly concerns of self-preservation that await, and a time of freedom from the very idea of a self in need of preservation in the first place. Sure enough, self-awareness is present during our childhood, having begun to precipitate out of the fundamentally fluid nature of human consciousness from the moment we first open our eyes, but it has not yet crystalized into the fragile sense of self-hood that we end up carrying around as if it were a piece of priceless crystal for the remainder of our adult lives.
Of course, I also understand that childhood is not always so idyllic. For some, what light exists must shine through the narrow cracks that open up in between burst…

Sufficiency - That Which We Already Know

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With this post I return to the book that I've been working on here on these pages: That Which We Already Know...
Sufficiency
I can’t remember ever calling one of my younger childhood friends in order to see if they could come out and playplay being a word that encompassed everything from actually playing a game of some sort to simply sitting on a sewer lid scratching words onto the concrete with limestone pebbles. It’s not that we didn’t know how to use the telephone; we did. It’s just that such a device seemed an inappropriately contrived way to reach out to a friend just down the street. Instead, we simply walked on down the street and stood outside whatever door they most commonly used, calling out “Oh, so-and-so!” in a sort of half droning, half sing-songy voice that started at a higher pitch and ended with whatever bass note we could muster.



It was different with my friend, Mark Patrick, though. Mark lived with his younger half-brother, Joe Bowen, in a two-family flat just…