by L J Frank
In dedication to a colleague / a freelance journalist without borders
A Philosophical Pursuit of Understanding
The existential or to exist is not new. It feels fresh in today’s world. I am reminded of the old African saying – If you are not sitting on the edge you are taking up too much space. Humanity exists on the edge. The facts about anything and anyone can feel ambiguous and alienating. It’s all personal.
A journalist colleague was recently held in custody for hours never knowing why. She was interrogated. The officials knew about her or so they thought. The journalist knew nothing about the “officials”. She knew nothing about their authority, and the reason for her being held. And then just as mysteriously she was released without explanation from her detention.
Policing is not an easy responsibility. It’s stressful. Add the intrigue of another country’s intelligence agency’s inclination, and things can suddenly go awry. Mistakes happen. Facial recognition is blurred. A person gets lost in the crowd. And another face becomes a person of interest. They’re targeted. Mistakes occur every day in all types of scenarios.
Humans, regardless of skin color or belief, have similar traits. Many of us look like each other. Our skin allows a textured exposure of who and what we are. We are categorized by skin tone, belief, physique, and relative to place and circumstance – clothes, footwear, headdress, jewelry and so forth. Still, altogether it’s only a portion of who we are as a person. What do we think we know or don’t know?
A look is hard to judge. We may even sell our soul for the sake of something we only know by the surface details. We may hire a life coach (it’s not a profession) for a vacuous, expensive feedback concerning the truth about ourselves. While one person seeks to know, another would rather not.
We have to dig for truth, even personal ones. What is factual? Pontius Pilate supposedly, may have asked Jesus of Nazareth at his trial, what is truth? Did Jesus actually reply- I am (the truth)? The Bible is hearsay. Religious texts are not proof. Their spiritual guides. Inerrancy is a lie. Inerrancy appears absolute but is like a pebble skimming across the water only to gracelessly sink. Whereas grace itself is like a feather floating in a stream. To stay afloat, adaptation requires a lightness of being. And adapting grace and the grace of adapting appear sorely needed for humanity.
Again, without a hint of what it was about, my colleague was unceremoniously grabbed off the street and detained. I could sense an unusual fear in her voice across the Atlantic Ocean. Interrogations are purposely humiliating, intimidating and can cause mental and physical anguish and pain. She had no answers. She doesn’t fear easily. But she was afraid. Later at a hotel she packed her bags. She departed. She was alive. A person in the room or outside, had a doubt. And that doubt favored truth and her life, in this instance.
Judging a person’s life based on an incident or their experiential background can result in being misled. Human behavior can be familiar, curious, unexplainable, amusing, and strange, if not bizarre and unsettling at times. We really may not know each other but love to give advice for a price.
A rabbi once noted that from a midrash or textual interpretation of God’s judgment, that God waits to the end of a person’s life before judging the whole person. Fair enough. There are exceptions he added. There always are. Unfairness is also part of life. Fairness and unfairness are never equally distributed.
Relations between cultures and countries are an intricate web of language, knowledge, literacy, economics, politics, perception, belief, experience, race, gender, and assorted biases.
Uncertainty and discord (and subsequent stress) for profit are big business – whether oil, food, weapons of war, drugs, water, environment, religion, sports, property, and most anything that offers an opportunity for physical and psychological profit, at another person or people’s expense. The Ehrgeiz (ambition) of those with influence is relentless.
Taking ownership of their “sins against humanity” today is problematic for too many leaders. Uncertainty and discord makes money for business and country. Uncertainty and discord sells. And too many bodies lying on the ground soiled in blood are the result of unofficial politics.
Unofficial politics is a global problem that appears to be metastasizing like a cancer. Influence and profit are made through purposed crisis, chaos, and stress inducing tactics.
Unofficial politics is in the shadows of official politics. Nothing is new, it only wears a different dress.
If adept, a person(s) can change their costume, mask, and role in a matter of minutes.
The unofficial politics of Inducing stress is about Influence. It affects the brain’s chemistry. Maneuvering and waring over influence is not a conspiracy. Actual conspiracies exist but tend to be far and between in the whole of human history.
The question encompassing unofficial politics is who stands to gain the most money and influence through purposed uncertainty and discord, and at whose expense?
My prayers for Andrea and all journalists / reporters without borders.