Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Not the President

"That didn't hold water, hot or cold, with some commentators and academics, who felt the magazine should have adhered to a central tenet of photojournalism: You don't alter photos. Period." - source -

That's key. This presidency has so much potential for altering history. I don't mean history future or the course of history, although that would also be inevitable. No, I'm thinking more like history, history. You know. Things that actually were said and done: phrases, speeches, articles, affiliations - depending on who you believe - place of birth.

This presidential term has been built into a towering, um, tower of expectation. Tell me how, and forget that he happened to take after the black side of the family rather than the white, how this man, AKA: human being, is going to save a crumbling financial system. Without going down the road of belittling anyone's struggle or triumph, racism is rather low on the chart of issues facing the US today and happy feelings just aren't gonna cut it in the face of a flawed economy and freaky privacy issues. If they did, the earth would have been ushered into Utopia during the sixties, man.

"Yeah, yeah, J. You're white. You know nothing of racism."

Is that right? It's not a stretch to say that I belong to the most reviled group in modern history: white males. We are responsible for all the ills of the world. Nobody else ever made a wrong decision or was complicit in a white male's evil decision. The justice system has already made up its mind if someone so much as whispers the word "abuse" in connection to me, proof optional. And especially unique to the modern white male, even if I'm the best man for the job, there exist situations today where actual legislation subtly declares that I cannot get the job.

While this cannot be compared to the evils of slavery, past and present, it begs a question. Where's the equilibrium? We bounce from one extreme to the next.

But you know what? I don't sit around and worry about those things. (Well, the justice issue raises concern for all with their eyes open.) This world isn't fair, and it will never be fair. Most seeking Utopia fail to realise that the only way to achieve it is through absolute control of free thought.* That includes your own. This is reality: there are always people making wrong decisions. Like it or hate it, it's where we live. History proves me right by the very fact that empires rise and fall. Even those who deny the usefulness of history based on the victor making modifications are stuck.

Today the hopes of the entire world, which is Western Hemisphere slang for us and those like us, rest upon one man and the change he promised. I actually heard a young guy say publicly on a major television station that since we've got a black president, it's all good.** Yes, I know. He was just kidding / he's just happy his race is represented / this is the first time he's followed politics / what's the big deal? I don't know. A man with dubious leadership and life experience is hailed as saviour because he was more charismatic than an elderly man, the puppeteers spent far more money on his campaign, and oh yes, he has a different skin colour.*** What is this? A who's who of racism?

What really gets me, though, is how much I'm seeing people pick apart Barack's minor mistakes. Barring accidentally starting a nuclear holocaust, who cares if the guy makes a gaffe or two? By and large he was the darling of the election and the western world. Now that he's in, we're just going to pick him apart. Why is that? Are people embarrassed that they didn't think through their gushing statements during the height of the media orgy? Or is it just human nature? We've gotta attack someone, and somebody else is obviously responsible for my decisions.

I opened this shot with a fairly volatile statement. But everyone wants to guard their reputation. Why wouldn't they? When you look at people as people with all their glories, flaws, and struggles, a pattern starts to emerge. Put someone on a pedestal, inevitably devour them when they fail. I fail. You fail. But the stakes are so much higher this time. People have put their faith in a man to magically set things right on a limited timeline in a crippled system. It's pretty much equivalent to me trying to turn an oil tanker with a canoe paddle. That's a lot of pressure. More than any human was meant to carry. Under that uncommon pressure the temptation to "make sure" that you succeed has got to be pretty awful. Many have succumbed under lesser pressures.

* Eudemonism: That system of ethics which defines and enforces moral obligation by its relation to happiness or personal well-being. - source -

** I wish that I didn't have to paraphrase it, but I didn't write the quote or the station info down at the time. My friends can vouch for my ability to retain statements. Even if a word is out, this is exactly the message he conveyed. To the best of my memory, he said, "We got a black man for president. It's all good."

*** From my meager travels I have long recognised that every people group offers unique strengths and also weaknesses. It's a good thing to learn from each other. Nothing I write is ever meant to detract from that. Any attempt to put such thoughts into my mind is ignorance. I don't go where many students go today: Accept everything, except those who don't.

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