© By Wekesa O. Madzimoyo, 2015
Sister Grace, I'm so glad you posted this. Ras asked me last week to further explain why I objected to his blaming "emotionalism" for creating whatever problem he was referring to. This post, might just help me. So, here goes.
As I read the "Before you react, think" line from the meme, I realized something that I've been missing for so long. It's that most people assume that “react” and “reaction” is all or mostly emotional. What just came together for me is that when our thinking has been conditioned or programmed, that thinking guides our reaction- even over emotional guidance to the contrary.
For example ringing Pavlov's bell, automatically gets the dog thinking food, seeing food and salivating. Similarly, whenever White folks shoot us in our churches, our reaction is guided by the thinking which they have programmed and seared into us. And that is to forgive them when they kill or hurt us. We're conditioned to cognitively minimize it, to think of it and see it "an isolated incident," "a subdued threat," etc. We’re also conditioned to think about “forgiving” them as “the right thing to do, " not forgiving them as the cause of internal anguish and personal, ifnot spiritual retardation.
Such immediate "forgiving" reaction goes against our natural emotional reaction and against unfettered critical thinking - which would direct us to RUN (get to a safe place) and/or to STRIKE BACK until WE decided the threat was subdued, and until we're sure that the assault wouldn’t happen again. Then and only then would we contemplate what other kind of future relationship we'd want with the assailant, if they survived our counter. Only then - in a safe place - after having secured our future could we contemplate our relationship with ourselves and reflect on what internal thoughts or feelings may or may not be holding us back, etc.
That's the natural emotional fight or flight response. Instead, we react as we've been conditioned - to forgive them and/or to denounce symbols, when the bullets are still flying, when churches are still burning, and when WE have not secured our safety.
Some may disagree with my observation that the bullets are still flying. To understand how I could say the bullets are still flying even after the lone assailant was taken into custody, imagine this:
A man, part of a gang of five men who are known for attacking and raping women, attacks a lone woman as she is walking home. He beats and violently rapes her. The other four see him, and decide to leave her to him. Sadistically satisfied, the rapist leaves her for dead. Cold, bloody, naked, somehow she regains consciousness. She survives, escapes, and alerts the police. The police search for and arrest the assailant. The four others remain at large. Is she likely to feel safe? Would you trust her thinking, if she insisted that there was no problem and that she was going to walk home alone again without any protection? Would you advise her to forgive this man - her assailant before she feels safe?
We’ll do you, your daughters, or your sons feel safe from White oppression and aggression? I don’t.Dylann’s brothers and sisters- some from different economic stations, different political affiliations, some with different dialects, degrees and uniforms - are still at large and still assaulting.
I also was struck by another powerful line in your post that is actually related to the first: “Before you pray, forgive.” Wouldn’t that depend on what you’re praying for?
When the bullets are still flying isn’t it emotionally and cognitively natural to pray: “God, damn them!” Isn’t it natural to invoke the power of God to help you, or to intervene on your behalf to stop the assailants - even it means killing them? Our emotions and our free-thinking would have us pray for our own survival and that of our loves ones, first.
If we didn’t forgive them, and prayed for the assailants to be damned (stopped, condemned, etc.) would we become too revolting for God? Hmm. Now, that would be a piece of programmed thinking, don't you think?
Grace, I know you don't think, condone or promote these kinds of ideas. When it’s laid bear, most of us don’t. Still, here they are - hidden messages in the meme of wise warnings. They trigger our programmed thinking, the injected mental manipulation which causes us to react, and to override emotions which takes all the blame.
It’s like a magician’s redirection.
I hadn’t thought of it before: blaming the emotions is a neat way to distract our attention away from oppressive cognitive programming. Hidden in plane sight! No one looks there. When our actions generate a negative result, it’s got to be the emotions, right?
Sorry, I digress. Let’s get back to God.
So, when my daughters are still being abused by police at the pool side, and my sons are being dragged out of police cars and beaten, if I pray that God, damns them and gives me the strength to damn them instead of forgiving them, I'm to decide that I'm spiritually unworthy? Did I get the right?
If so, then Spirit must NOT love me or my children, at least not as much as Spirit loves and wants me to take care of the assailants. Is that what Baba John Henrik Clarke meant when he said: White oppression has taught us we are “Outside of God’s grace.”
Could we be trying to show ourselves spiritually worthy to a White “Son of God?” Could that be some of the programmed thinking that guided our forgiving reactions to the SC massacre, or am I taking this programmed thinking thing too far?
There is a simple test that might help us answer the question.
Here it is: Would Black people had have different reaction if the assailant was Black and the rest of his “gang” were still at large?
What do you think?
Would the Black community so quickly forgive, or propose going after the Black gang’s symbols before going after the gang?
One more scenario. The Black assailant is now killing the young and the elderly, killing three pastors, and a White state senator - nine in all. Same questions. Would the Black community so quickly forgive, or propose going after the Black gang’s symbols before going after the gang?
What were your answers - your first answers? No, not how the White community would react. We know all too well what their response would be. What does your experience tell you about the likely Black community’s responses?
If your answers vary from our responses to the Dylann Roof SC massacre, then maybe Christopher Nolan’s Inception is an example of art imitating life. Brother Hunter Adams first alerted me to the movie at an ABPSY conference. Remember in the movie Leonardo Decaprio’s character, Cobb is being hired by a rich energy magnate to invade a competitor’s son’s mind via his dreams to get him to voluntarily destroy his father’s empire and his own inheritance. The strategy is to plant an alien idea, or thought. Describing the gravity of the task, Cobb says:
..."The seed that we plant into this man’s mind will grown into and idea. This idea will define him. It may come to change everything about him.”
It was just a movie, right? Or could it really be that our reactions are guided by implanted thoughts injected deep by psychic and physical abuse? Could it be that these injected thoughts override our sane, emotional, life-saving responses which evolved over hundreds of thousands of years? Can I say sane and emotion in the same sentence?
The truth is that feeling vs. Thinking is a false dichotomy, even when relayed in a form that passes for wisdom - “Before you react, think.” We can't separate them. We "feel-think" and “think-feel.” Neurologist have know it for decades. Afrikans have known it thousands of years before the birth or Christ, Muhammad, and Buddha . That neurologist are catching up won’t stop the propaganda. The false dichotomy is too valuable to the oppressive machine.
While both our thinking and feelings have been conditioned by our experience, in this oppressive environment, both have also been intentionally programmed by Europeans to prompt or extinguish certain reactions - like Pavlov’s dogs.
You didn’t think he’d stop at dogs did you?
Oppressors like to engineer compliance to and reverence for them.
What do you think a White Jesus and Angel’s food cake is for?
Why up the huge bounty on Assatua Shakur’s head. Interestingly, they haven’t forgiven her after all these years.
Oppressors like to extinguish reactions of resentment and resistance.
Why do you think they promote the “turn the other cheek” version of Martin Luther King?
Why not this version?
“if you’ve not found something you’re willing to die for, you’re not fit to live. “...There comes a time when we must take a position that’s neither safe, politic or popular...”
“You may be 39 as I happen to be an a great opportunity comes your way to take a stand for truth, justice, and something right. And you refused to do it, because you’re afraid that your house may be bomb or you may be stabbed as I was. We’ll you may go on and live until you’re 90, but the cessation of breathing in your life is merely a belated announcement, you died when you refused to stand for truth and justice.”
Brother Amos N. Wilson once said: “It’s a very slick system.” Check it out.
The false thinking-over feeling dichotomy says my emotions can’t be trusted and continues the “blame game” that I referenced earlier.
Satisfied that we have a explanation for our negative results, we don’t examine the programmed thinking or falsified emotions. After all, why go through the trouble of learning the program, de-programming and then re-programming when we only have to think before we react? Simple.
I know. I know. We are sometimes “too emotional,” right? Ras asks “aren’t our battered families are the living proof of that?” Not exactly.
It is like we are possessed. Our bodies are acting, but we’re not “clothed in our right minds,” as my Grandmother used to say.
Our battering, abandoning, and angry reactions are the result of carefully crafted falsified emotions and programmed thinking. Think about it. The same Pavlov-like program that causes us to react to White abuse by forgiving, also programs us react to ourselves and each other with disdain, damnation, and violence.
I can hear Malcolm X asking: "Who taught you to hate yourself?"
Excuse? Not hardly, we have to talk about, heal, and fix the battered relationships, suicides, surrender, violence issues that plague us. Ironically, pseudo wisdom like “Before you react, think” blocks the real fix which is to learn to be guided by our authentic feelings and thoughts.
This is exactly why I make such a fuss about about this emotion vs. thinking stuff, if we don’t get to our authentic feelings and thoughts, our oppressors direct our families and our relationships through us. To help us get to our authentic thoughts and feelings AYA Educational Institute has created tools like “FAM” and the “River of Touches.” More on that later, we not ready for solutions just yet.
Falsified emotions serve another slick purpose - to make alien ideas seem self-generated. Stay with me Grace. In a slick system of oppression, freedom is in the details. The movie Inception may help us again. This time Tom Hardy’s character Eames is planning with the invasion team on how to make the alien seed-idea stick. The team reasons that the mind will naturally attack an alien, harmful idea, like your nose recoils from something rotten that will be harmful to your body. To avoid rejection, they decide to use the emotions generated by the son’s estranged relationship with his father as the path way. One more thing is needed Aames adds:
“It has to seem self-generated. That’s the only way the idea will stick.”
Think of this: I come to an intersection with a stop sign, and I’ve been taught to read the red octagonal sign and the letters S-T-O-P to mean GO. So, I go. Our course, I’m likely to be hurt or to hurt someone else. The result - if I survive the crash - is that I won’t trust that sign anymore, right? I have my evidence - my hurting body - to confirm that the red and white GO signs mean trouble. It’s my decision. It has become my own idea.
When I mis-read emotions, or more accurately, read false ones, I hurt the ones I love, or we hurt each other. What conclusion can I come to except that I cannot trust the sign - my emotions. The problem with trying to run away from the false emotion is that I also I run away from the authentic ones.
Now, that’s a problem because emotional authenticity -the basis of real connection - is the best check to errant thinking. It’s the best defense against the threat of injected programmed ideas. Without it there is no de-programming and re-programming.
Grace, you may be thinking that I’ve really lost it. Emotions checking thinking? I know, I too have been taught the exact opposite - thinking checks errant emotions. I told you it was a slick system. Everything is upside down and inside out. Strange but true - here’s what the latest research on emotions and cognition says: “Without emotion you don’t care, and you don’t think.”
So, without emotional authenticity and real connection (caring), we’re left to rely on the unchecked Pavlov-like conditioned thinking which guides me to serve aliens (oppressors) at my expense.
Convinced that they are destructive, I’m so busy suppressing the emotions, I don’t learn to read them correctly - the authentic ones, and I’m so busy blaming my emotions for errant behaviors, I don’t correct the cognitive programming or programmer. Hence, I forgive when I should damn, and I damn when I should forgive. I’m follow the thinking, feeling, and behavioral 'script' that serves our oppressors.
Sister, there is a way out, a way home. Though it is outside of the scope of this article to detail it here, you taken the first step by becoming aware of the problem. The rest is summarized in what every generation of Black people value - Keepin it real! Keepin it 100%. Instead of suppressing your emotions use them to help you move and accomplish what you have decided it’s best. Now, be careful that your decisions are yours. To avoid some programmed decisions, ask yourself Marimba Ani’s question: “is it good for Afrikan people?” Value and combine your authentic thinking and authentic emotions, and use them both equally everyday.
Now since you like memes, I have some one suggestion and 3 rewrites for your next one. Suggestion:
Next time, choose a Black underlying image; race does matter.
When something happens, react with authentic feelings and thoughts. (Deprogram and reprogram, so you’ll be ready.)
When you need to pray, pray.
When you need to forgive, forgive.
When you need to fight, fight.
If you’d like to know more about one option for how to de-program and re-program our thinking and our emotions, so that we can solve our problems and lift the entire world in the process, then check out www.ayaed.com.
Without dogma, without requiring name changes, or family estrangement, they offer training to help individuals families and organizations attain the skills to:
Crack the codes
Circle the lines, and
Solve the riddles of oppression.
Those mysterious skills help attendees produce authentic warriors who defend us, healers who actually help us heal from oppression’s wounds, and builders of strong families, schools, organizations, and institutions.
Author: Wekesa Madzimoyo (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Wekesa O. Madzimoyo is the director of and writes for AYA Educational Institute. www.ayaed.com. AYA researches areas of communication, conflict resolution, and the dynamics of oppression. It develops programs to implement its findings, and provides consultation and training to those wanting to address these issues.