Kent Courtney at the Soulmaster Film Shoot
Reaching Toward our Roots for a
New Vision of the Future
© 2003 by Kent Courtney. All Rights Reserved
Henry David Thoreau said the the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. In contrast to the Know-Nothings of our time, wise people see above the ordinary, transcending apparent reality to a spiritual realm which allows self-actualization. Our freedom to do this comes from the liberties which were reasoned from the natural rights of man.
We have the ability to detach ourselves from a reality created by others. In so doing, we can live in a reality created by ourselves. The individual reality can exist in a sea of realities. We call this a democracy. We ebb and flow like water, but we have the ability to become a spray of sea that is independent of others.
Understanding this dualistic role in life, can be helped by taking this concept to the extreme. Jesus was a hurricane that stirred thought like few things have done. Jesus still effects our lives today. Whether or not you are a Christian, the storm surge of the Jesus Hurricane touches your life.
At the foundation of American thought, all people are created equal and therefore have the innate ability to be the kind of water that rises above the sea.
America has the potential of nurturing many independent thinkers - and has. Creativity has flourished. America's arts and culture influence the world like a hurricane influences the sea.
Conserving the Culture
But, of course, there can be storm damage. America's independent way of thought can be destructive to itself. To balance these forces requires thinking about how the good parts of American culture can be preserved.
A deliberate effort must be made to choose things that are worthy of preservation and pass that knowledge on to others.
Not all buildings can be preserved. Many are torn down in the name of progress. But some are so influential and important that they are declared historic sites. Mount Vernon and Monticello deserve to be preserved for their architectural value as well as for the memory of their inhabitants.
Blending the Music
As an important building, a song like O' Susanna deserves to be preserved for its intrinsic value. Even more so, the song should be preserved as a reflection of America's national culture - and of the people who sang it.
We still sing O' Susanna and that song has power because each time that song is brought to life, the national memory is revived. It becomes part of the tale of the American people.
Finding Comfort in the Past
The narrative of the present is not a pleasant one. News reports the negative aspects of society. News programs exist to sell advertising. The more that people need to see what is on TV, the more that there is potential for advertising exposure.
The more that violence adds danger to lives the more we are compelled to see how close that the danger is to us. If there is potential for terror, we must find out how to protect ourselves. This is not a recipe for finding satisfaction in life.
Understanding the Story
Many oral cultures preserved their past through the telling of their story. As part of rituals, tribes would recount stories of struggle and bravery uplifting their ancestors and themselves as a collection of people who shared this heritage. Their memory and consciousness are part of that heritage. The telling of the story reinforces the memory. The old share with the young so that when the young become old, the new old can share with the new young.
When a pastor reads scripture from the Bible, he is sharing the stories of the Judeo-Christian heritage. The pastor or shepherd of the congregation shares his knowledge of the telling of the story. He is often assisted in his ministry by elders or lay-leaders of the Church.
With stories that are in writing we can communicate with the dead. When we write we can converse with the yet-unborn. We have expanded our ability to have a tremendously large tale of the past.
This is good, because we can read about details of events and peoples' lives that interest us. With a multitude of diverse interests, publishing has become an industry of knowledge.
Change for the Sake of Change
A history book written in 1920 about events in 1860 ought to be valid forever. But the publishing industry thrives on changing ideas. A history book that is re-analysis of history will cause more book purchases than a reprint of a 1920 history book.
Simple economics dictates that thought about history must change in order to generate sales. What would motivate someone to buy a book, unless that book shed new light on a subject.
So history is re-written for profit motives. More new ideas equals more books. This often means more re-written history. Change the facts in accordance with the latest research, then you can sell a new book on an old subject.
Change into Fiction
Great literature - even if it is fiction - has some basis in the human condition. For example, how humans think and operate is exquisitely revealed by Shakespeare. Great truths are told in these plays.
With radio and television, the opportunity for change becomes greater than in the written word. Fiction flourishes. Radio drama and television programming result from the next logical step from changing the facts - inventing the facts.
In our millennium, it's hard to comprehend the change from literature that had some basis in facts to a world of constantly changing information - much of which is wrong.
Visual Reality Beamed at Your Machine
A casual survey of video that is broadcast, cable cast or satellite cast, represents reality run-amuck. Anything you want can be real with special effects or computer processing.
Our simple, savage brains have had difficulty coping with this aberration of reality. The fight-or-flight instinct is over-stimulated by action movies on a nearly daily basis. What happens to the human psyche when barraged by this false information?
This hurricane is storming the seas of America and the world. But that's not all.
Harlot or Great Controller?
The internet has opened the floodgates to false visions. Even using a slow 28.8k modem, this printed page can be loaded onto a computer in about three seconds. Broadband brings it up in a blink of an eye. A pass of the curser can change the page to something else - to a new reality - whatever the web surfer wants or thinks.
Anybody can put up a website. You can say whatever you want and there is little mechanism to stop you.
Moreover, in the internet reality, sizzle sells over content. The graphics are the thing. The medium truly becomes the message. In a world where reality-based TV thrives, non-reality really engages on the internet.
What is the Salvation?
How can you disconnect from the present? By engaging the past. If you look at your present existence as a continuation of previous generations and a precursor of future generations, you have a broader view of life. The future may be difficult to see. The past can be a joy and offers more choices.
How do you get from place to place?
Before the twentieth century, for short trips, your horse or feet took you where you want to go. You can still choose your feet to go somewhere. It is a good and healthy thing to do.
Bringing the Past into the Present
Amish choose to use horses. Buggies and horses are fun. They're cheaper than airplanes or cars and are easier to maintain. Even if you have to replace your horse, a new horse costs about the same as a couple of months of car notes. You can get a good buggy for not much more. Feeding the horse can be cheaper than gasoline for a car. Why would anyone use an automobile?
Let's say you have to use an automobile. You job is too far to walk. There's no public transportation that will bring you to work. Your worksite has no stables for your horse.
Do you drive a recent vehicle? You have the option of driving a truck, a sports car, an SUV or even a Class A recreational vehicle. You budget and personal choice dictate what you get. But, living in the new millennium, you have a choice of older vehicles.
You have the option of driving to work in a 1953 Ford Crown Victoria. Now consider this, people in 1953 did not have the option of driving a 2003 Dodge Durango. And we don't have the option of driving a 2053 Chevy.
Dressing the Part
Let's look at clothing. Do you wear the latest styles? Do you have to? You do have a choice of what you wear.
Clothing as a Reflection of Society
Both genders can now wear pants. No one thinks much of a woman dressed like a man. Within the living memory, that was not true. People alive today can remember when men wore pants and women wore dresses.
The World War II mobilization of women in the American workforce caused women to work and dress like men. Rosie the Riveter helped save America - and the world. It was practical for women to wear pants and overalls when they performed the dirty and demanding work that had been done by men.
What changed this work-related reality to a casual dress code for street wear? Don't most women on the street look like they could be riveting airplanes in the clothing they are wearing?
Go to a shopping mall and look at manikins dressed like factory workers or prisoners. Those blue-jeans can cost up to, and even over, one hundred dollars. The t-shirts are perfectly suited for working behind machinery. The shoes are great for tromping through the mud. What are we telling the masses with this dress code?
What Costume do you Wear?
If an ever-increasing number of people derive their livelihood from operating computers, is there any necessity for them to dress like they are ready for a slave-labor camp?
Do you have to wear those clothes?
What about men's clothing? Did you know that there are alternatives to the fly-front trousers commonly used for blue-jeans?
Fall-Front or Fly-Front
We can illustrate the small window that we think we have to look through by looking at pants in the past couple of centuries.
Fall-front or drop-front pants are some of the earlier styles of trousers or breeches. A portion of the front of the pants open up for practical access. By the 1700s this had become a somewhat formalized narrow fall-front. You can see how the fall-front works by looking at a full painting of George Washington or Thomas Jefferson.
The Amish still wear broad fall-front pants. They are really comfortable and fit a man's waist much better than blue jeans. They are practical and do not require a belt. Broad fall pants started to gain popularity in the 1820s and continued in popularity until the 1850s.
The fly-front pants that are used today were originally called French fly pants. Their popularity started in the mid-1700s. They fell out of favor for a time and had a revival in the 1860s which has persisted until today.
By reviewing the development of a single detail over the past few centuries, you can see that you have more of a choice in clothing than you realize. You would not look strange wearing broad fall pants on the streets today. Yet, you don't find them in shopping malls.
The purpose of this illustration, is to show how much of your life has been dictated by other people. Who are they and why do they want to run your life?
Is there a conspiracy, or are we on a mad dash toward randomness?
Copyright © 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 by Kent Courtney