In Mr. Allesondroni’s we were fortunate to have a book in our curriculum that had a bunch of short stories in it. Much to my displeasure, I don’t remember the name but, it was fashioned to promote questioning, which later I learned is a powerful learning and teaching tool (I paid attention a bit in staff developments). In this gem of a book there were several short stories that were different from the anticlimactic stories that we usual read, well at least in my estimation. We had been reading books like the Acorn People, The Outsiders, and other boring novels, but this book, which today I believe was implemented poorly, was jam-packed with whimsical fantasy stories about the future and celestial beings. One story stuck with me particularly about a dystopian future. Dystopia meaning is a vision of an often futuristic society, which has developed into a negative version of Utopia, in which society has degraded into a repressive, controlled state. The story was entitled “Harrison Burgeron” by satirical and futuristic writer Kurt Vonnegut. In this controlled state people are finally equal, physically, mentally, and bodily. For those stronger they are forced to wear weights, for those beautiful, they are forced to wear masks, and for those with exceptional and rebellious thought, they are forced to wear headphones that blast mind melting noises.
I happen to read this short story recently and it made me think of the people I know and the people I come in contact with every day. In the story the government forces people to become the equal or the same, whereas in my everyday finding the people I see are conforming to each other at their own behest. I generally see this in my own demographic. Young, black people. It’s so alarming the rate I see everyone becoming everyone else. Modern day clones. And it’s not even that we like the same things, it’s the unwillingness to try what’s different. The consumption of others thoughts are so heavily weighted on our brains that we’ve lost our true selves, or at least deterred on the journey finding ourselves. It’s funny that my first realization of this was with my liking to wear flip-flops or “chancletas” being the Spanish term. People would say “Oh, you got them thong boys on nigga? That shit is gay.” Now while their feet smoldered in chunky Air Ones and diabetic socks on a 97 degree day, I was cool. That’s a simple illustration but when you think of it, it’s so stupid for that even to be questioned. I play Frisbee and it’s looked down upon as a white sport (NEWSFLASH: Dickheads they all are! Naismith, a white man, created basketball and as was football). I often hear the words “I’m not like every other boy/girl”. The more often you say that more like that you’ve became. It’s become a fade to be labeled different. And this difference is a socially accepted norm which in turn makes you the same. I like to call it radical conformity. A group of people changing to be different, to become differently the same. Every girl has turned from Beyoncé to Nicki Minaj. Everybody is a black Barbie, FOH. Every nigga is the new Wayne. It’s ok to have aspirations, but aspire within yourself. You may fashion yourself after something but do it in your own mold. Don’t poach another man’s mold style. I think that’s why girls like or are attracted to me so much (I’m not totting my own horn), it’s because I have the ability to be myself, not the next man.
The inability for us to even open our minds past trivial things is what causes our inability to not grow. I often wonder why other races are so much happier and flourish so often, I’ve come to find that when you embrace or at least mull over every opportunity no possibilities are lost. We nix every possibility because of what someone may or may not think of what we’re doing. I was reading another Vonnegut story about the future and this quote leaped off the page at me:
“…most of the world’s ills can be traced to the fact that Man’s knowledge of himself has not kept pace with his knowledge of the physical world.”
Its mind-blowing how a quote from so the 70’s can still echo in today’s society. The timelessness is staggering. In essence it means as time goes on, the world changes, and we witness its changes. But as we cease to adapt with the change, taking the new found knowledge we create problems and issues for ourselves. THAT QUOTE IS A BEAST!
To me the rudimentary issue lies in self-esteem, self-perception, and utter lack thereof of both. I got the words “KNOW THYSELF” tattooed on the inside of my wrists. It was a quote by Socrates that resonated with me as I became more mature and realized myself. It means to me that if I know myself there is no way that anyone can tell me otherwise about me. Any negativity directed at me or about me falls on deaf ears because if I know myself, what they think or say is drivel. As soon as we adopt this attitude we can erase the robot army we are cultivating. A bunch of mindless beings following each other. And the worst part is that these trends and fads that are being stuck to so staunchly are not even FUBU (for us, by us), they’re what the media and record companies want us to follow with fierce Zombism. I petition you to find yourself. Take risks. Become versatile. As your horizons expand so will you, and in turn so will the opportunities afforded to you.
I leave with you a scripture that doesn’t directly state my point, but parallels it:
6 Eat thou not the bread of him that hath an evil eye, neither desire thou his dainty meats:7 For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee.8 The morsel which thou hast eaten shalt thou vomit up, and lose thy sweet words.