June 09, 2006

The Future

In nature, increasing strength, relative to the opposing forces of survival, is the only solution to threats to an entities existence. In nature, everything breaks down to fulfilling the prime directives of survival and procreation, with competition and cooperation intermingled to promote strength through the ebb and flow of resistance and adaptation. As living entities, strength is the only and best solution to the threats and problems facing life.

But what is strength? Before we embark upon the quest for strength, we must establish a solid working definition of what it is. Strength is the ability to control opposing forces. For example, one popular measure of physical strength is the ability to control the impact of gravity upon mass. Ones ability to lift or control a heavy object is thus seen as a manifestation of physical strength through the metrics of ones ability to defy the natural downward gravitation pull of electro magnetism upon an object and forcing it in the opposite direction. However, strength manifest in the emotional and rational realms also.

Emotions drive our conscious actions as our minds rationalize which emotions should and should not drive our behavior at a given point in time. Thus, emotional strength is the ability to control our actions despite emotions firing compelling us to act on the emotion.
For an example of what I am referring to, take the “fight or flight” reaction to external threats. If ones natural emotional reaction is dominated by fear, one will be triggered to flee from the threat. Hence, the demonstration of emotional strength in that instance will be to not flee to stand ones ground. On the other hand, if the natural reaction to an external threat is dominated by anger, then fight will be ones natural reaction and hence it will take emotional strength to flee the threat and maintain self respect. Hence, one cannot glean strength from behavior alone, without understanding the dominant emotion firing in the individual.

That having been said, choosing which emotion to suppress and which emotion to act upon requires a rational objective for ones life. The decision of “fight or flight” should ultimately be regulated by rational objectives and benefit cost analysis of the impact that acting upon each emotional impulse will have upon that rational objective. Hence, having a rational objective is a prerequisite to manifesting emotional strength for obviously one needs a reason in order to defy the pleasure or chemical release born from succumbing to our emotional inclinations. Desire being an emotion, if one finds him or herself with hyper desires to be with a particular member of the opposite sex, and one has the opportunity to fulfill this desire, it takes a rational reason not to act. That rational reason might be that one is married and to act on the desire may be detrimental to the marriage. Hence, one rationally chooses fear over desire to guide ones course of action.

In order to have the rational wherewithal to control ones behavior one has to put weight and confidence in the future. One has to have something to look forward to, something their aiming at, in order to properly shape their short term decisions. To have the belief and confidence in a better future radically changes the propensity to seek immediate gratification. Those without confidence in the future are much more likely to engage in present behaviors that risk their future. The dearth in confidence for the future hence creates the rational goal of immediate gratification, which often manifest via giving in to emotional impulses, rather than controlling them. Hence, a young person having unprotected intercourse is much more likely the behavior of those without a plan and confidence in their future.

In light of this, one of the most damaging aspects of 300 years of living under the doctrine of white superiority is the psychological impact upon how we see ourselves, each other and the future. When an elephant is young and is tied down by a rope and struggles in vain to break free but cannot, it will be conditioned to be bound by the same rope in adulthood, despite its ability to break free in the present if it only believed that it could. In the same way, 300 years of oppression has limited many blacks ability to believe in themselves and to think positively about the future in the same degree that is true of others. The social action of 300 years of oppression has manifested a culture reaction or engineering of low expectations for the collective black community relative to others.

One cannot simply institute high expectations without first deprogramming the collective psychologically to the degree that individual blacks believe in themselves and other blacks as much as, if not more than, others. Many people are advocates of increasing expectations, but have no plan to first increase esteem and confidence. The horse must go before the buggy in the proper order of precedence or things will not work as planned, regardless of supposed good intentions.

Thus, for many black people our vision of the future has been conditioned by the realities of the past. Such is proper and represents human nature and hence should not suggest a strategy of forgetting the past. Memory and history serves the purpose of providing a lesson database for the present and future. Without such a lesson database to draw from entities can get caught in an infinite loop of repeating the same mistakes and or falling victim to the same external forces. The past also is the only true laboratory for discovering the causes of the present. Knowing how one arrived in bad situation in the present is valuable knowledge in formulating a plan to avoid or get out of the situation in the future. So I am not at all suggesting that one dismiss the past and become one dimensional via only looking forward. The optimal psychological state of mind is a healthy marriage between looking to the past and looking to the future, which should moderate present behavior to its optimal good.

In conclusion, our ability to manifest strength and rise to our full collective potential is dependant upon our ability to control the impulse to seek immediate gratification. The ability to forgo immediate gratification can only be rationalized when one has a solid plan and confidence in themselves and their future. Without that the perceived risk of sacrificing a future, because one does not have confidence in it, there is less reason to forgo the pleasures of acquiescing to our present emotional impulses. No matter what one does, it’s always the product of a conscious or subconscious calculation to do what is in ones best interest. That’s how all life is programmed to promote its survival, by doing what’s in its interest. The calculations outcome, however, is dependent upon the scope of time the individual puts faith and value in. The shorter the scope, the more likely one will give in to momentary or short term impulses. The problem, of course, is that often that which may be in our short term interest is to our long term detriment. Hence, not having confidence or faith in the future creates a self fulfilling prophecy as ones behavior in the present shapes the outcome of one's future. So when one lacks confidence or solid plans for the future, they compromise that future.


At 11:40 AM, Blogger Scott said...

good to see you are back posting. I saw your comment over at booker rising and realized i hadn't stopped by in a while

At 3:53 PM, Blogger oronde ash said...

there is osmething ot be said for stability. in the mind or in the world, a place from which to run, retreat to, rampage, rebuilt, reject, reduce, redo, is a vital force in the individual --the group. i'll propose that a majority of "successful" individuals had stability at those critical times in their lives which allowed them to recreate that stable platform to success... stability is a necessary force as well.

At 11:24 PM, Blogger chris said...

I do not subscribe to the idea that blacks do not support one another. In fact I created a post entitled the Gameplan for Overcoming Racism with that in mind. Please let me know your thoughts. I feel that it can be done.

Overcoming Racism Game Plan

Inspired by the post in which a writer described some of the areas in which African Americans need to focus if we are ever to overcome racism in America, I have decided to contribute what I believe would help to alleviate some of the struggles African Americans deal with daily. Because, in all reality, racism shows no sign of letting up anytime soon whether regionally here in America or globally. It is inevitable that African Americans, a people known for overcoming immense odds,will have to make a way using innovate and technological methods. Let me know what you think.

I am an African American professional in the Bay Area and I feel that it is my duty to give back. I have read numerous books about racism, most of which have been used as textbooks in prominent colleges like Harvard, Yale, and Stanford. The most remarkable thing that I noted when reading these books was that all of them gave credence to what African Americans and other disadvantaged groups have been arguing about for years. Therefore, since I am in a position to help the community, this post is intended to begin or at least start a forum dedicated to helping one another overcome the affects of racism.

My Ideas go as follows:

A. The internet, in my view at least, is seen as the great equalizer. Since racism is very much linked to the visual perceptions by others, I feel that it is paramount that African Americans and other disadvantaged groups use this electronic medium as a way to achieve some level of upward mobility. This is because I have come to notice that many biased people believe that African Americans are to poor or unintelligent to have access to the internet much less have the money to purchase computers. Therefore the more you conceal your identity using the internet the less likely people are to discriminate against you. One way of using the internet for example would be: I have a financial planner that performs my investments for me. As a way to help other African Americans that do not have a good financial planner in their area, or do not know the proper financial information that would allow them to acquire wealth, those of us in a position to do so (myself) should inform others how to invest. This would eliminate or improve the following:

1. High prices associated with hiring a financial planner.
2. Help other African Americans build wealth
3. Promote more internet networking amongst African Americans
4. Use these investment opportunities as a way to hire more African American CPA’s and financial planners
5. Help to keep money invested in the community.

B. The second idea falls along the same lines of using the internet but more in a networking group capacity. Long gone are the days of mobilizing large demonstrators to march against overt racism. Instead I say that African Americans form small groups from 6-8 members (as this is the size of groups that are most effective according to Harvard business textbooks) with the intent to overcome racism but connect to each other via the internet and mobilize under one common goal. This would guarantee large networks linked by technology dedicated to upward mobility, while still retaining allot of autonomy for cohesive decision making.

Within each group, one person would have a distinct role. For example one person would be dedicated to finding better ways to invest financially, one person would be dedicated to finding employment opportunities open to African Americans and tracking changes in the employment market, one person would be dedicated to finding the most complete scholastic knowledge from prominent school systems like Stanford, Yale and Harvard (because many schools that are supposed to teach the African American community are either under funded, or inadequate) and another person would perform yet another function. This type of team unity and team building techniques would offset some of the effects of racism while building unity and strength within the African American community nationwide. When having meetings to discuss how each faction is doing we would then use African American travel agents, African American websites, or other African American vendors to support our endeavors. For example my personal chef is West Indian American (In America considered African American) and my CPA is African American. I use his wife, (also African American) to help me find good deals on real state. The key here is to use African American resources. In addition to the formation of teams with 6-8 members, each member would be responsible for contributing an allocated amount of money per month. However this money would not be used for selfish means. Instead the group would decide how the money should be distributed yearly. All team members for example will be able to view the every amount they contribute to the team savings with no member contributing more than the other. However no one person will be able to take money out of the account. All members must agree as specified by terms set by an agreed upon team consensus. These terms will be legally binding and made by and African American attorney.

For example: Let’s say teams of six contribute $100 a month individually. At the end of each year the team members would decide how the money would best be utilized in the African American community. For example the criteria for using the money would be:
a. Purchasing new computers to promote ongoing African American technological networking and innovation.
b. Use the money towards SAT, ACT, and other college prep course tutoring for the family of the African American team members.
c. Use the money to open an account in an African American owned bank and continually contribute to the account.
d. Invest the money using an African American financial advisor and/or CPA
e. Use the money to support African American businesses.

The key here would be deciding upon goals that would benefit all team members and the African American community.

B. The third and last idea, for now, would incorporate team strategy. Upon building a network of small teams that is part of a larger network, designed to oversee operations, team members would continually strive to rid themselves of depravity and self destruction, caused by years of inequality. One book I read suggested that to succeed in anything one must change what he/she has the power to change. For example: Think of all the negative stereotypes about Black people in general. To offset some of the negativity, one must be the antithesis of the negative stereotypes. If the general consensus is that African Americans are lazy, then one should strive to never let people believe that they are lazy. If the general consensus is that the majority of African Americans are uneducated, then one must strive to never let people believe that they themselves uneducated. I am not saying to become a sellout, but rather use the team environment these teams are intended to provide, to support one another. In fact as a way to combat what I term “selloutitis”, team members will be required to give back to community in many facets.

Now I know what some people might say. “Black people will never come together to help one another”. “Black people hate black people”. These are exactly the type of African Americans that should be avoided when pursuing a network such as this. Their viral contempt for themselves and others, that wish to better their situation only cause contention and erode teambuilding synergy. In all reality, if it were not for African Americans I would not be in the position I am today. Two African Americans told me to study electronics which allowed me to work at the great company and make a good salary, an African American doctor helped me to overcome a great obstacle which had previously impeded my progression towards life goals, my African American friends (one who supports this website) have always had my back during tough times, and so called African American thugs stood up for me when no one else would. So to say that there is no unity among African Americans is false. Instead of tearing one another down it is our duty to see how we can bolster more support and more unity in our community.


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