This one’s been on my mind, both on account of the way the world seems to be, right now, and on account of some fiction I worked on today for the first time in years.
From The Clay Pot:
The car ran out of gas; I had to walk.
The grass turned brown and then gave way to clay.
The dirt was red, and on a rainy day
Had sucked up shoe-marks now turned into rock.
I followed this relief, until a block
Of solid concrete showed me where there lay
The slab from some old store that seemed to say,
With eloquence that taught me stones could talk:
You seek a pathway forward, yet you drive
Encumbered by your need to fill your tank,
Insuring your survival, nine to five,
By heart-attacking suit for shares and rank.
Where did these shoe-marks lead? Can you forego
The weary world a few miles, still, and know?
I’ll probably be harassed a while longer with “likes” from accounts I have to block (but, hey, that’s what a block button is for) for actually bothering to reflect a moment on this pat expression of currently dominant ideology masquerading as cleverness, but let me ask you to seriously absorb the point:
Really, now. What sensible debate can be carried on in which people, in all their complex situations and relationships, are pressured to behave and advocate in a manner suitable to precisely one characteristic that others have chosen to put in the foreground?
How could anyone ever achieve liberty who willingly participates in such a society?
At every turn, you must either be “winning” based on your successful reduction of your whole scope of personal activity to doing the will of a powerful group that shares one characteristic with you; or “mostly winning” based on your successful negotiation of a compromise with various groups that each share one characteristic with you; or “oppressed” by others who are doing the same.
Bah. It’s ridiculous. In such a system you could only be “winning” by oppressing others, having first truncated yourself and mandated the same mutilation of all those who “identify with” you.
You can try to make the case that we have too often done exactly that, whether “we” is my English ancestors or your German ones or his Cherokee ones or her Russian ones, but you cannot make the case that we ought to do more of it.
That’s just silly–obviously, trivially, too-clear-to-need-proof silly–and it is a disaster when people actually make it a priority.
Heck, even a Marxist would get this one right.