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The Jehoshua Novels


Anger-fueled suicides – A society without dreams

Sharif Abdullah says he’s been saying the same thing for twenty years about anger-fueled suicides, that we need to get to the real issues. He grew up hard in the 1960′s in Camden NJ, was involved with Black Liberation groups including the Black Panthers, was a lawyer, then became “increasingly disillusioned with the adversarial process as a means of social change. After six years, Sharif left law practice, choosing a path to social change [that]… promotes heart-felt inclusivity, compassionate dialog, and a society based on visionary, localized and alternative economics and politics.”

Unless we start doing things differently, the list will get longer. For every shooter that acts, there are 100, or 1,000, who are suiting up and getting their guns. Unless we respond to the real motivations, the real pain, generated by a society that does not work, these anger-fueled suicides will become as common as traffic jams.

Black Liberation was a way out for him because it gave him focus but no real answers.

Unlike the shooters, I was lucky. Part of my “luck” was being raised poor and black in Camden, NJ, America’s underbelly. Being raised in the Sixties, a time of “black consciousness”. I could label the emptiness in my chest “racism”, and therefore had a focus for my anger and rage.

The shooters, raised as white, heterosexual, middle-class males living in middle-class towns, had no readily available labels for their anger. They had no focus for the emptiness, the gaping holes in their chests. They had no consciousness movement. They had no ideology. There was nowhere for the emptiness and anger to go – but out. (Important note: The labels are irrelevant. There was NO DIFFERENCE between my emptiness and that of the shooters)

Abdullah says we’ve created a soul-starved society and that we have a societal mental health problem, which manifests in deranged ways in some individuals. We have lost our way and lost our dreams. “Lose your dreams and you will lose your mind.”

I’m seeing more and more that adversarial politics rarely produces the desired changes. Instead they just set in motion (or continue) endless attacks and counter-attacks.

1 comment to Anger-fueled suicides – A society without dreams

  • Soul-starved is an apt description. First we ignored soul, then stopped believing in it.
    In our hubris (Please, Mother/God/Nature/Reality! I’d rather do it myself!), we have built an artificial world and lost touch with the real one; built artificial ways of relating and lost the capacity to really connect (2000+ ‘close’ friends on FB?); glorified the ‘FAO Schwarz child’ while we slaughter real children here and abroad.

    Abdullah is quite correct that the adversarial approach has failed. Certainly in the historical view, that approach has led only to conflict, war and destruction. For society and individuals, cooperation beats competition and is the only thing that has enabled us to survive and prosper.

    There are ways in which people are very much alike and ways we differ. It has always amazed me that we fight and kill over our trivial differences instead of being united by our important commonalities. Our behavior often reminds me of Dali’s painting of the Body Politic tearing itself apart.

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