“Are you still writing?” “Yes, but my brain has been on overload and I need time to just reflect.” “And just what is it that has taxed and drained your brains so?”
“What? Haven’t you been keeping up with the news from around the world? Are you aware of the economy here at home? Have you heard of Trayvon Martin? What about the upcoming presidential election? Not to mention the clear signs of possible war between Israel and Iran.”
“But what can you do to affect or control any of those matters?”
“Not much, I know, except that they matter, they matter.”
That is the content of a recent conversation that only left me with more brain-drain. No answers. More questions.
Meanwhile, daily life continues to deliver some very high highs and equally low lows.
Recently, I had the opportunity to participate in the fundraiser for the Greater Miami Chapter of The Links Incorporated that featured a reading by author Terry McMillan, she of Waiting to Exhale and How Stella Got her Groove Back fame. Terry, who experienced a well-documented, publicly detailed failed marriage, has continued to enjoy popularity as a fiction writer.
Despite her trials and travails, her comments at the Link’s luncheon were positive and uplifting. She left us with several wise words of advice, among them the suggestion that we should all shoulder some responsibility — the reason she writes — to put the out-of-focus photos of the world and inter-relationships into high focus.
That got me thinking — about relationships, all kinds of relationships — from the early bonding with our parental figures, with siblings and other family members, friends, lovers, co-workers, neighbors, etc.
As human beings, we are all in some kind of relationship, all the time, with one or more persons, to some degree or another, simultaneously. And it’s when we are not in relationships that we cease to be fully human.
So what does relationship have to do with those matters that caused my brain drain?
Just that the economy, the issues being debated during the presidential election and even the winds of war demand that we consider these matters, in conversation, even argument, in public debate, in constant vigilance, not alone, never alone, but in relationship with our immediate family, with our social groups, with our intimate partners, in churches, at the office water cooler, etc.
And it is through these relationships — though some are more casual than others — that we get the opportunity to refocus our attitudes, our behavior, our choices on how we live in society.
CNN has been airing a documentary on the 20th anniversary of the iconic Rodney King beating, a videotaped, modern lynching, that puts a high focus on the broken relationships in that community at the time among the Los Angeles police, black folks and the Korean merchants.
Rodney King’s response to the six-day riot and armed retaliation from the merchants — “Can we all get along?” — has become shorthand we use to comment on ongoing, daily local and global conflicts, relationships gone south.
Can’t we all get along, indeed?
The notion of getting along, of building relationships based on egalitarian ideals, has been a steady theme of mine in all my writing and thoughts.
It seems like such a simple idea, a natural response, even. But the evidence proves just the opposite. We don’t get along. We compete for space, for food, for water, for the “other,” for power, position and prestige. We want more of yours, as individuals and especially as nations, and on and on.
“Justice for Trayvon!”
“Four More years!”
“Peace in the Middle East!”
Say it louder.
Antonia Williams-Gary is a consultant with Miami-based Savings and Grace Enterprise. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo: Antonia Williams-Gary