Whence Come You, Mean Spirit?
One may think so, based on the vitriol spewed daily from people in places high and low. This thinking may be excused due to the fact that an increasing number of people in high places think nothing of being mean. You are correct if you are thinking elected officials. OK, OK. Say it. Presidents, congressmen, governors. Many believe it to be the best way to serve their own selfish means. What is going on?
As ever, mean spirits have deep roots. Politically speaking, be glad you weren’t living in the 19th Century. That is but the tip of the mean spirit iceberg. Just go back to the beginning of sentient beings.
Why do mean spirits survive the ages? Like cockroaches, mean spirits are a primitive entity. A study by South China Normal University found that American cockroaches (Periplaneta americana) have the second-largest genome of any insect ever sequenced, right behind the migratory locust (Locusta migratoria), and about 60 percent of the roach genome is made up of repetitive segments. Largest genomes. Repetitive segments. That equates to survival. I searched the internet to see if there is a Ph.D. thesis which compares the survival of mean spirit in humans to the survival of cockroaches. Couldn’t find anything close.
I am you
in your most deeply cherished nightmare
scuttling through the painted cracks
you create to admit me
into your kitchens
into your fearful midnights
into your values at noon
in your most secret places
you learn to honor me
This is an excerpt from The Brown Menace or Poem to the Survival of Roaches by Audre Lorde, 1974. A poem from the voice of a brown roach, speaking to a person of hate and mean spirit. The context is racism, but the concept of mean spirit is manifested in her words.
The former president’s tenure was not the arrival of mean spirit. It was simply the extreme manifestation of the infestation of hate and mean spirit that has always been with us. And yes, since the creation of the good-old U.S.A.
Non-thinkers, so-called “patriots,” will believe that statement to be blasphemous. Exceptionalism, they say. Going back to the “silver lining” idea from the last four years, let us instead consider the awakening and the embrace of truths these years have brought in reaction to darkness.
Awakening. I know, I know. “Woke.” A term created for mean spirits to bludgeon those who are pro-actively pursuing change and growth of the humankind. These are the same folks who try to make the word “liberal” a description of despicability.
That’s a lot of negativity in the last few paragraphs. However, it serves the purpose of underscoring truth, optimism, hope, and awareness arising from the ashes of the altar of fear. Fear of truth. Fear of change. Fear of science. Fear of introspection. Fear of free thought. Fear of critical thinking.
But hey. Those things which many people fear are stronger in the human soul than mean spirit. It is this which helps us understand the reality that thought, progress, hope and love have not only helped us survive the darkness we have recently lived through and continue to have to endure from the remaining vestiges of modern darkness.
They have emerged from oppressiveness stronger than ever.
That is good news for everyone. Everyone.