“The Dark-Browed Villain”
© 3/3/21 Ruth Ann Scanzillo.
“The Dark-Browed Villain”
© 3/3/21 Ruth Ann Scanzillo.
Humans react. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t survive. Reacting is the way all living things respond in the face of perceived threat. Most threat manifests in the form of change, and not all change is threatening but, since it can be, we react – self-protectively – to change.
So, what does all this mean, socially?
Society has evolved a way of reacting to changes perceived as a threat, either to stability of groups or to institutions upon which specific groups are founded. If one group changes a societal norm, any associated group which suspects a threat to its own relative perceived value will react. This collective reaction is called backlash.
For their collective lifetime, American social groups have endured many such changes. Given that the social class system was imposed by its founders, and carried out by its earliest settlers, as larger swaths of its endless plains were claimed certain among those pedigreed established and maintained power. First, Caucasians dominated its continental natives; then, the wealthiest among these brought their slave class, largely African, to serve agriculture and family structure. Thusly, racism became the order of not merely the day but the entire mentality of this new society.
But, while racism against the African class by the Caucasian landowners was ubiquitous, within this insidious system there was further suppression, against publicly unacknowledged subgroups. These were identified by their sexual preference. Significantly, since the prevailing religion of the time was Christian, such variance in sexual preference was openly condemned. Being outcasts, those whose preferences did not align with the Christian creed were pushed underground to form secret societies. Given the limits of transportation, the structure of these societies was loose and local, if managed at all by word of mouth or discreet, encoded post. The idea of open backlash likely never entered the mind of any, given that being exposed would bring about certain social abolishment and even death.
A couple centuries hence, social change has heaved its mighty hand. Contrary to the nation’s founding social attitudes, much backlash has ensued. Fiery, life threatening reaction on all fronts has periodically branded the landscape, leaving a continuing wake of destructive waste and fear.
So, what of social survival? Those suppressed by racism have banded together, spoken out, acted out, and moved with collective conviction demanding equal treatment, equal rights, equal status. Those with alternate sexual identity have, as well. This reactivity is felt, in some circles, daily. Gradually, inexplicably, the tide is turning; now, those of alternate sexual preference are publicly acknowledged by an increasing majority, and those of the heretofore subjected races have achieved social recognition, social opportunity and, while much is still unresolved and conflict persists, increasing social status.
But, while the tide turns, the threat of flood is still real.
Because, in the interests of immediate gratification, backlash has become the first order of business. And backlash, being reactive, presumes threat. But, the motive being fear, backlash cannot produce a sustainable symbiosis; rather, it is inherently destructive, further weakening any hope for true reconciliation and peaceful coexistence.
Additionally, of increasing concern is an encroaching variation on public backlash: subversion. Now, the technological revolution has produced a mode of reaction which takes place beneath public political scrutiny, behind the scenes, in unacknowledged behaviors known only to those who populate its groups. Subversive backlash has embodied entire movements, even reaching the professional and economic sector. Now, power is assumed through internal social networking within a corporate structure; indeed, entire commercial enterprises are populated nearly exclusively by members of a particular social group – to the veritable exclusion of those not identified within.
This further threatens social stability. More groups exist, each with their own inherent power, but said power wielded in exclusive interest rather than inclusive. Self-selectivity abounds; the rules of engagement made clear by the prior, suppressive class, now those who “fit” are predetermined by any number of specific criteria. Is this peaceful coexistence? Hardly. Rather, those who seek their own kind are now subject to any number of self- empowered monopolists, pushing and pulling and jostling for rank according to a set of priorities which can never align and which are intrinsically resistant to collective agreement.
Such collective agreement is the essence of a stable society. Without, any subgroup can at any point rise up and confront the other. Revolution from within may serve some, but history has left a flood of casualty in droves as proof of its power to dismantle rather than sustain.
Negotiation is the higher form of conflict resolution, but such dissonance must first be acknowledged at table. Refusal to make plain intent prevents any hope of such resolution. Subversive behavior effectively subverts the possibility!
If we are to ever return to the ideal of a stable society, we must first be open, up front, and fully disclosing with one another. If we must continue to react, let us do so with pause, recognition, confession, and a purpose which seeks the kind of coexistence which is borne of genuine, mutual respect.
What’s your reaction?
© 9/5/2020 Ruth Ann Scanzillo. All rights those of the author, whose name appears above this line. No copying, in part or whole, including translation permitted without written permission by the author. Thank you for your genuine respect.
Why do we need education?
We need education because we need to know things that we don’t know the day we are born. At first, as far as we can see, babies only know that they are hungry or tired. Babies who crawl find things in the house that make them curious, but because they don’t actually know what these things are some of the things might hurt them, like batteries or electrical outlets. This is why babies aren’t left alone. Parents must watch every move they make, especially when they are exploring. Even though they usually figure out how to walk, babies need other people around them. They learn to talk by hearing other people, and need their parents and other people to be sure they don’t fall down stairs or end up outside in the street hit by a car.
We also need education because we can’t learn everything we need to know just from our parents. My dad is a great barber and sings like Bing Crosby. He also plays the harmonica and his own “bones” which he made out of a John Deere plow handle when he was a rambler, and nobody taught him how. He also tells the most interesting stories, about missionaries and Pop-Eye in the jungle. But, he doesn’t know much about math. Mum was really good at math and way better than I am, so when I get confused by word problems she makes sure my homework is correct before I take it in to school. She also knows how to sew, and does alterations and dressmaking for customers who come to the house. I could learn to sew from my mother, but it doesn’t feel as though I could get any better at math just by being shown how by her. I don’t much understand how she thinks. So, because we have to learn math at school, we need to go to school for that. I don’t really understand why we need to learn math, but Mum keeps telling me I will use it someday.
The most important reason to go to school is to learn to read. Without reading, we can never find out what happens outside of our own houses or yards. When I was little, Mum always read us stories every night before bed, and I wanted to read stories as soon as I could. I remember wanting to write a story before I could read, and having mum help me with the letters in the words that went into the story.
We also need school to teach us about the world. Sunday School teaches us about what happened before Jesus was born, in the Old Testament, and what happened when Jesus was on earth, but the Sunday School teachers always say that the world is full of sin and heaven is our home. We don’t have a television because the people at Sunday School think TVs are the devil’s vision. But, Mum lets me ride my bike to Susie’s house to watch BATMAN. I can tell that Mum thinks that it’s important to learn about the world, because she knows an awful lot about it. I can tell because, whenever I’m doing my homework, she seems to already know the stories in what we are learning, especially the parts about World War II and what America was like before that. But, she spends most of her time at the sewing machine or at the machine shop threading and tapping nuts and bolts because she always worked there for the war effort. The lady next door spends most of her time smoking and watching television. Her kids are all grown. I don’t know how she could have taught them anything.
My big brother is eleven years older than me. I learn a lot from him. He has always played the piano and created projects at home, like drawing a picture of his 10 speed racing bike and having the high school kids come over and play big band music in the basement. When he went away to college to major in pre med, he got six hamsters who had litters and he had to make a big sign, Hamsters For Sale, and then rigged it with a string and a bell so nobody could steal it. Now, he has guinea pigs and they’ve had so many litters that my little brother and I help feed them the boxes of head lettuce hearts he brings home from Loblaws. He even lets me sit right beside him when he dissects the pigs in mum’s bread baking pans.
But, for all the things I can’t learn from my family I need to go to school. Some kids really need school, even more than I do. They only have a mother, not a father, and some of them don’t have any brothers or sisters. Some have clothes that look even older than the hand me downs I get from my cousin Frannie. Their hair and even their faces are sometimes dirty, and their shoes are scuffed. They don’t talk to the other kids much, either. One of the girls who sits near me smells like she needs a bath. I don’t understand why her mother doesn’t give her a bath, at least every few days like my dad.
I’ve always liked being at school. I like the smell of the wood on the floors, and the sounds in the hallways when classes walk by. I like the chalk and the chalkboards, and all the different teachers and the clothes they wear. I like doing seatwork, especially drawing on the good, white paper and remember making letters on the lined paper back when we first learned to write. I always liked it when the teachers played the pianos by the front wall, even though Mr. Davis doesn’t play. I like singing, and we still sing every day. I like the front covers and the pictures in our books for every subject we learn. I like looking around at the other children and watching them talk to each other. I like it when the teacher calls on me, and I like it when my pictures are tacked up along the chalkboard border after we have art. I like it when we go to the auditorium for assemblies, especially when the curtain is closed, because when the curtain is closed it means that the Jr League is putting on a whole play for us. This year, I wrote a play about Marco Polo, and had six kids come over and make his boat out of a cardboard box and practice their parts. Mum made all the costumes, even the red and black three cornered velveteen hat for me to wear because I played Marco Polo. After that, Mr. Davis, who usually sat at his desk reading while we were doing our seatwork, gave me his library book. It was called “Rifles For Watie”, and I loved that book so much. I loved it even more, because my teacher let me read it.
This is why we need education.
© 8/28/2020 Ruth Ann Scanzillo. Originally published as a Note at Ruth Ann Scanzillo/Facebook.