The Arrogance of Power and the Ignorance of Weakness
by James Clingman
As I wrote in my “Letter to White Folks,” this country is being destroyed by greedy, conniving, arrogant people. Our political leaders have taken this country to the edge of economic meltdown and political chaos with their lies and deceit. I often wonder if they think they will ever die and have to account for their actions.
It is shameful and sad that they are so engrossed in their own personal enrichment that they have literally disregarded most of the people in this country. But, it’s also sad to think that most of us go along with the program, whether by omission or commission, by allowing these leaders to continue doing their dirt.
Even sadder is the fact that our children will surely pay the price for our apathy and our weakness in the face of impending disaster. When I ask myself, What are we afraid of? What do we have to lose? Why do we allow ourselves to be played? I cannot for the life of me come up with acceptable answers.
The people in power are so arrogant and aloof in their dealings with the folks for whom they are supposed to be working. The “American people” are so laid back and shy when it comes to our response to the nonsense, because we simply do not want to know what is happening. We want to remain in our ignorance, thereby having no responsibility or obligation to act in any way to change things.
We ratchet-up our enthusiasm for politics, especially this year, and traipse to the polls like lemmings, believing we will find salvation there. Fact is we will only gain an emotional up-tick from the upcoming elections, both national and local because our investment in the political process is that of amateurs. Despite being involved for decades, and despite having elected Black officials all over this country, we are still politically impotent and ineffective in most cases. In other words, we still get played.
The arrogance of our top political officials is off the chart. They thumb their noses at us and could not care less that we know what they are doing. Our ignorance, in many cases, is off the chart as well. We do not pay attention to what’s going on around us; we do not have a real grasp of our history; and we do not critically analyze what is being said to us via the nightly 30-second sound-bites.
The arrogant lord over the ignorant and strut their power over the weak with impunity as though there is no higher authority and price to pay for their despicable actions. But take a look at current conditions and you will see that there is a price to pay for both arrogance and ignorance.
Financial institutions are in deep trouble, and when they sneeze, we get pneumonia. The housing bubble has burst and we are paying dearly for it; families are losing their homes by the hundreds of thousands across this nation. Unemployment is on the rise, and inflation is taking hold. Mass layoffs, such as those seen in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s are returning to the forefront – 4000 from Merrill-Lynch alone. Food prices are reaching unprecedented levels; and who knows where the price of gasoline will end up this year. Many of the ignorant are still dying for the arrogant in Iraq, while billions of dollars flow like oil from corrupt hand to corrupt hand, through Halliburton, Blackwater, and KBR.
Bush’s “friends,” the Saudis, and other oil rich nations refuse to increase production and help lower the price at the pump, while China and India have increased their demand for the precious commodity. We owe more than we have; we import more than we export; we have a deficit that is out of control; and we have a dollar that is probably worth about 15 cents by now. All of this and much more, and the arrogant tell the ignorant to mimic Bobby McFerrin, “Don’t worry, be happy.”
What’s the answer? Experts in economics and business that can’t agree on what to do at this juncture in America’s history, so who am I to pretend that I have the answer. Here is what I do know though. Black folks are at the bottom of every good category and at the top of every bad category in this country; we cannot afford to sit back, mired in ignorance and apathy, waiting for the arrogant to save us. Newsflash! They ain’t comin,’ y’all.
After 400 years in this country, after suffering under the worst treatment, pushed to the end of the line in every stage of progress, and relegated to second-class citizens, Black Americans remain the most vulnerable of any group.
We must stop volunteering to be ignorant of the things that matter; we must open our minds to the real conditions of this country and the world; we must spend more time critiquing, analyzing, and appropriately responding to the power of the arrogant; and we must design and execute economic initiatives that benefit our people and our children, the way others are doing, without apology.
The arrogance of the powerful leads to the ignorance of the weak, and that leads to the perpetuation of the status quo in this country. They will continue to treat us like mushrooms by keeping us in the dark and feeding us cow manure. We will continue to think we are players while we are really being pimped. We must wake up; there’s more to life than sports and entertainment.
Power corrupts, but Amos Wilson taught us that powerlessness also corrupts. Powerlessness is derived from ignorance, and we do not have to be ignorant if we don’t want to be. Information is too plentiful and too accessible. Get it! Act upon it!