Some years back a police chief in a northern-Philadelphia, white-belted suburb happened to tell me that whenever they ‘discover’ that a stranger in their midst is from Kensington — a rough-tough former Irish and other ham-fisted, out-of-sorts Philly neighborhood of mostly abandoned factories — they automatically arrest him.
“About 90 percent of our second-story jobs turn out to be guys from Kensington,” the chief stated matter-of-factly.
Regrettable, but true. And my fact-checking bore him out. The chief wasn’t being definitive. Or ‘anti-semantic.’ He was just openly stating the obvious.
These days, however, the ‘obvious’ is not permitted to be stated so openly. Please…get rid of the politically-correct Nazis and bring back Archie Bunker.
As a recent article in the metropolitan ‘Philadelphia Magazine’ discovered, the city of brotherly love – as well as most of the country – cannot have an open and honest discussion about race, without the sanctimonious inept labeling you a racist.
As we have all witnessed, we can’t even have an open and honest dialogue about how our government ‘of duh people’ is failing us, and often times actually lying to us, without be declared a liberal. Or neo-con. Or a communist – even if your name isn’t Putin. Or Castro. Or Chavez…Or Mao… Or Alfred E. Neuman..
We can’t have an open and honest conversation about our foreign policy without being called a terrorist sympathizer. We can’t have an open and honest debate about the ‘real’ unemployment figures, or religion, or abortion, or gay civil rights. Or crime… Or even the simple economics that nothing – except perhaps our bad diets — is affordable anymore for 99 percent of us…
And if we should try, our genuineness is considered downright mendacious. Like we’ve got an ulterior motive. Or some insidious agenda. Or we are just being ‘un-American.’ And I don’t even want to get into the idiotic dogma of the PC police.
The saddest fact is that this is the country that created free speech. And yet we can’t freely speak. We definitely cannot rebuke most anything in a critical, analytical, nor especially disparaging vituperation, without being labeled — and possibly arrested — under the (unconstitutional) Patriot Act.
It’s even considered unhealthy to question where all the cancer research money has been going.
I’ve always maintained – throughout all my ‘successful’ relationships — that the shortest distance between two people is communication. That doesn’t mean being honest to an abusive fault. It means talking openly, tactfully, considerately, sincerely, and, hopefully, as briefly as possible, with self-effacing humor about what duh fook is going on between your ears. Not to mention your legs. And probably even behind your back. (That is not a gay innuendo. Nor any other carnal position.)
What we have here is a failure to openly and honestly communicate! Particularly without euphemisms. The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has actually taken place. And today, the more we elaborate our means of communication – especially with all the advanced technology — the less we really convey.
In other words: In our over-spews on our array of social media, familiarity leads to apathy. I don’t care that the youthful Face Book founder once contended that his mission was to help people connect and communicate more efficiently.
We are merely shouting and shooting. We ain’t listening and resolving. Look at Washington. Look at Europe. And Cypress. The MidEast. Africa. Hell, look at all my successful relationships. I call them successes because: They all ended.
And most of them quite amicably. And that took a lot of crafty oral surgery. Okay, except for the last one. Outside of primal screams, communication wasn’t on her rèsumè. She ran screeching back to her lesbian lover in Appalachia. But not before Miss Stephanie stripped the house of all the paintings, rugs, furniture, antiques and cars. And children…
Hmm… Talk about an agenda.
I seem to attract naughty women with a past of bankrupting their husbands’ futures. But liberty comes at a hefty price. And I am endeavoring to pay Miss Stephanie’s new transgendered lover to keep her.
Ahh…. The gas passes. But sometimes the stink lingers.
Anyway, there are a lot of rationalizations for why we are failing Communications 101 these days. It’s a potpourri of culture; logistics; language; humor; tolerance; attitude; education; poverty, economics… Excuses have 10,000 faces and names. But success needs no explanation. And communication works for those who work at it.
I remember a number of years back when Paris was burning because of arrogance, haughtiness and insolence. They were afraid the social riots would migrate to Marseilles. And when they didn’t the reason was obvious. The Christian, Muslim and Jewish communities co-mingled in organized sports and social leagues. It kept people in touch. Communicating. Greeting and meeting. Marseilles was about community. And friends are usually the last to pick up sticks and stones against their neighbors.
To put it succinctly: Communication leads to community. That is, to understanding, intimacy and mutual valuing. And as the truth has been repeated: No one can make you feel poorly, or inferior, without your consent.
Look, in my global trots I often tell foreign folks that the great tribute to America is not in what is said about us. But what isn’t said. And that’s in the cul-de-sacs where various races, creeds, ethnics and social classes often reside on abutting patches of lawns. They may not quite love one another. But they are living together among the hegemony of the patchwork quilt we call America. And such familiarity eventually leads to tolerance….
And maybe one day they will get around to loving one another – perhaps by the time we colonize Mars.
The genius of America is the ability to put into effect what is on our minds. Even if it requires calling out the National Guard, or the U.S. Supremes, or Congress to integrate a school, guarantee civil rights or ensure a woman the privilege and power to rule her own body. Here, with a tad more than chalkboard theory, we are all enabled to have at least a promulgated shot at making it happily to the finish line.
But to continue to advance and elevate ourselves and our conditions, without further regressing back to our foxholes, we must be able to speak openly and honestly. State the obvious.
At times it can be painfully embarrassing. It can seem tactless. Rude. Impertinent. Inappropriate…. But like that police chief in that northern Philadelphia suburb put it: “It is nothing more or less than what it is.”
And it’s best if it is said out loud so that we all can hear it. And deal with it.
I know, I know…. Sometimes it isn’t simply ‘what it is’. And that’s when the language of communication undoubtedly becomes a tool for concealing the truth. That’s why nothing beats real interaction. And honestly I don’t think science will ever come up with a better system for communication than the water cooler.
Meanwhile, as the children’s rhyme goes; Stick and stones may break my bones. But names will never hurt me. Call me something once and it is what it is. Say it twice and my Jewish gang will break into your house… and mess up your checkbook.
And dats yDrewIS on dis penal colony…