Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Our hands are tied...

Our hands are tied. Its what we say when we recognize our powerlessness in a situation. It's what we've all felt as we watched events play out in the Baltimore riots. There are many who see the color of the faces of rioters and find vindication for their racism and smug feelings of superiority. They will likely see and use the riots as a rationale for tighter control and greater police presence. It will become fuel for their righteous indignation. There are others who see more clearly into the full scope of the situation.

Chief Operating Office of the Baltimore Orioles John Angelos made the following statement after protests on Sunday by thousands outraged by the killing of Freddie Gray. The protestors had reached Camden Yards during a game between the Orioles and the Red Sox. The fans were initially told not to leave the stadium.
That said, my greater source of personal concern, outrage and sympathy beyond this particular case is focused neither upon one night’s property damage nor upon the acts, but is focused rather upon the past four-decade period during which an American political elite has shipped middle class and working class jobs away from Baltimore and cities and towns around the U.S. to third-world dictatorships like China and others, plunged tens of millions of good, hard-working Americans into economic devastation, and then followed that action around the nation by diminishing every American’s civil rights protections in order to control an unfairly impoverished population living under an ever-declining standard of living and suffering at the butt end of an ever-more militarized and aggressive surveillance state.

The innocent working families of all backgrounds whose lives and dreams have been cut short by excessive violence, surveillance, and other abuses of the Bill of Rights by government pay the true price, and ultimate price, and one that far exceeds the importances of any kids’ game played tonight, or ever, at Camden Yards. We need to keep in mind people are suffering and dying around the U.S., and while we are thankful no one was injured at Camden Yards, there is a far bigger picture for poor Americans in Baltimore and everywhere who don’t have jobs and are losing economic civil and legal rights, and this makes inconvenience at a ballgame irrelevant in light of the needless suffering government is inflicting upon ordinary Americans.
The big picture, and the bigger story that needs to be told is a simple one,. It's one that lies no further from each of us than the hands that dangle too uselessly at the wrist.  We thought that by freeing the hands from toil, we would be made clean, but instead we were made stupid. The hands are the instruments of human creativity and intelligence. Instead of putting the hands in service toward the development of mind and creativity in schooling. We (as a nation) chose to still the hands and to use schooling as a warehousing operation in which kids were kept isolated from futures of creative engagement.

Do you remember the past 40 years in which we were to sacrifice American manufacturing to foreign nations as we entered a "service economy" and then an "information age?"

Can people not see the stupidity of our situation? We as human beings, by our genome and the circumstances of life are instructed and compelled towards creative engagement. When the flow of that creative engagement is damned by schooling in which students are held captive, and under tight control, at some point, things will come loose with anger directed toward the repressors.

I know and you know how these things go. The angry black youth will be blamed by most, not the system of injustice that feeds the rich and famous. But there is a fix. It calls not for revolution in the streets, but for revolution in schools and in community life.The call to fix things is something you can take up in your own hands by teaching others to make.

Make, fix and create...


  1. "We thought that by freeing the hands from toil, we would be made clean, but instead we were made stupid." So well said, Doug. We live in a debased society—debased from material engagement with nature that is the work of sustaining life, and debased from true and wise justice that underlies good and legitimate government. This is the wisdom in Lorenzetti's mural in Siena's Sale de Pace, where the figure of harmony ("Concordia"), a hand plane in her lap (symbolic of social smoothing, leveling and strong communal joining/cohesion), sits at the feet of the figure of Justice. On the adjacent wall, the effects of this image of good government shows a happy city of artisans and builders, farmers coming and going with their livestock and produce from a thriving landscape just outside the city gates. And over this scene the angel of Security hovers.

    The opposite wall, showing the antithesis, the effects of bad government, justice, the land and the crafts of civilization destroyed, is where we are today.

  2. Tim, I would say our society is detached and deranged. Interesting use of the plane in the lap of justice. A sharp plane can take thin shavings.