“The U.S. has about 50 percent of the world’s wealth and about 6.3 percent of its population. In this situation, we cannot fail to be the object of envy and resentment. Our real task in the coming period is to devise a pattern of relationships which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity without positive detriment to the national security. To do so, we will have to dispense with all sentimentality and daydreaming, and our attention will have to be concentrated everywhere on our immediate national objectives. We need not to deceive ourselves that we can afford the luxury of altruism and world benefaction. We should cease to talk about such vague and unreal objectives as human rights, the rising of living standards and democritization. The day is not far off when we’re going to have to deal in strict power concepts. The less we have been hampered by idealistic slogans, the better.”
George Kennan, Former Head of the U.S. Department Policy Planning Staff, 1950.
Chilling and unjust yes. Libraries are full of stuff like this. Our history is lousy with “might makes right.” Like you, I hunger for a more just world but I don’t think hyper-focusing on the power concepts on the top of the food chain is effectual.
That was a quote was from the introduction to the catalog for the Disappeared show I saw in NY.
I hope that by citing the context of the Kennan quotation you are not insinuating that I am indifferent to the Disappeared.
If you are in a position to start a revolution or participate in a revolution that would get men like Kennan out of our government it is your responsibility to do so. Regrettably, I lack both the charisma and the ego required to lead a revolution so I cannot tell you where to begin.
Since you mention your roles as teacher and parent I suspect you already know where the entry level work in revolutions is but I will try to clarify my personal views on this subject.
As I have already suggested, I believe that each of us has unique responsibilities.
I believe that we must each work under our personal, continually evolving system of first principles and also within the system of our professions and the greater systems within society and culture. When we sense that it is necessary, we also have the responsibly to change those systems with the gifts (both genetic and experiential) we have been allotted. Gandhi strove to become the Gandhi he was destined to become. Likewise, I have the obligation (equal to Gandhiâ€™s) to struggle to be the J. E. I am destined to become. The tragedy of our times is that so many natural gifts go unused. I believe utilizing oneâ€™s personal gifts takes a lifetime of discernment.
As teachers, you and I have different responsibilities from our Hollow brothers and sisters in communications, social work, planning, and non-profit(ing). I believe that we are not teaching art and craft. We are teaching how to be an artist and how to be an artisan. More specifically, we teach how to be and adults. We are teaching the final lessons of childhood. We should always be striving to reveal to our students their responsibility to seek for and develop their gifts.
In society and culture we must do good by everyone we have the fortune to come in contact with. Our action or lack of action in our relationships is the most powerful force we have. I believe we cannot allow ourselves to make or keep enemies whether personal or conceptual. Enemies such as Kennan and his ilk are a distraction from the sytems in which we have true power. For as Pongo said, â€œWe have met the enemy and he is us.â€
Obviously being successful at these efforts takes unflagging energy and we will fail more than we succeed but we must continually strive to fulfill our obligations to our gifts so that we may fulfill our obligations to the world.
I know there are a lot gaps in this credo — feel free to point them out. As I think Iâ€™ve made clear, it is an evolving process.
Thank you Ned. Thank you for challenging me throughout this week and thank you for explicitly challenging me to explain myself. I agree with your earlier comment — this is emotionally taxing, as personal growth always is. A week of this has left me battered but better for it. Chalk it up to revolution training.