Divorced from Reality

Yesterday afternoon, on the Ed Schultz radio talk show, a man who described himself as a Conservative started talking about the Jena Six trial. He narrowed the framework of discussion down to the point where the Jena Six (six black high school students) beat a white student unconscious under the school tree where three nooses had been hung as a cruel joke or sinister warning. The caller was deliberately eliminating all other elements associated with this event as if they were not in any way connected.

Like a lawyer trying to win a case, he narrowed the focus of the discussion down to this one event then asked Ed and the listening audience, “Did these six black students beat this kid into unconsciousness?” He was trying to get us to say “yes” because it was true, the six black students did beat the white student until he was unconscious, and even after that, I understand. What this guy, and many of us forget or conveniently ignore, is that all things are both one and separate. Beating this white boy up cannot be separated from other events that led up to this action because they modify it. Nor can this event be divorced from the social environment we all grow up in. We, as individuals, and society, through the establishment of its laws and institutions, play a role in shaping others and their behavior. Life does not happen in a vacuum! 

We need to ask ourselves where the behavior of narrowing the field of discussion down to a single event, as if it were totally separate from everything else to gain consensus and shift opinion, comes from? What underlying beliefs make it okay for us to lie, cheat, distort, deny and manipulate the truth of reality? The belief that we are all separate and in competition for survival is the only belief I can think of that’s strong or compelling enough to make us deliberately betray the beauty and complexity of life by attempting to reduce it to a series of singular events. This is a narrow, limiting, and divisive view of reality that threatens peace and long term survival for all of us.

An old friend, now deceased, emailed me a clever little argument like this once that was circulating amongst his Republican friends. I was so angry and disappointed with him! I knew him to be smarter and more honest than that. Fear, mixed with guilt, makes us do strange things.

Speaking my mind – Pete 


We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience. – Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

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