by Mark Kelly, SUNY Cortland, November 6, 2008
I gaze at a painstakingly hand engraved reproduction of Albrecht Durer’s “Knight, Death and the Devil.” I am more than a little fortunate to have acquired such a piece of distinction. I find it to be a piercing visual allegory that intimates our shared responsibility. If you are not familiar with this work then become acquainted and look deeply within, what does it say to you? I suggest looking beyond the literal and historical, what is it communicating as a metaphor for your own life? We are in a time when we MUST begin to examine our own individual depths thereby gaining the courage to express what we find. This piece speaks to me on a deeply personal level in that I once had an intimate encounter with Death; I have witnessed its arrival and eternal reality of severance. The Devil: representative of all that is “small” within us, the embodiment of fear and all of the other incestuous co-mingling conspirators; they try to wrestle us into submission. The “Knight”: attentive to his traveling shadows, rides undaunted with his trusted companions. With disciplined focus of attention and intention this sub-conscious aspect of all of us moves toward a mission inadvertently revealed by initial encounters with Death and the Devil. We must not hide from reality; it is through facing all of our fears and recognizing the insubstantiality of these inharmonious vapors limiting us from the “mission” keeping us small, thereby enabling us to reach true potentiality.
I recently learned of a thwarted assassination plot on the life of Barack Obama: it was to be carried out after a massacre of the general populace of African Americans. The two young men, barely in their twenties are affiliated with the Neo-Nazis. Very thankfully they were not able to carry out their plans; their plot was amateurish and totally ridiculous. The government easily thwarted this total insanity. I must admit that I think long term imprisonment is in order, however I also wish for their personal transcendence from fear.
I have traveled extensively throughout the United States and have met so many beautiful people; I also have encountered the fear-driven “ugly people.” When I travel, I am actively engaged and I refuse to shy away from the truth. I go wherever the wind takes me although I have my limits in how deeply I investigate. I would love to mention the State, Town, and Restaurant where I once encountered a scene of segregation that broke my heart and called for me to act as a representative of Sanity; but I am not looking to stir a frenzy, although some would say it is warranted but that is not the purpose of this commentary. This scene was totally unacceptable and action on my part was absolutely necessary. Upon entering this rural scene, I saw a row of tables in the back scorched by the hot sun and sitting at those tables was 30 or so African Americans eating lunch. I didn’t recognize what I was seeing until I entered the air-conditioned “establishment” and saw only whites enjoying their lunch. There were no official signs indicating what the milieu was, but it became immediately obvious as to what was going on. I sat down and ordered my lunch, the people were friendly and hospitable to me. They asked me where I was from and immediately assumed I was from N.Y.C. although I tried to explain that was not the case. Then I lightly asked about the tables out back in the scorching hot sun; I simply cannot write the words I heard, I didn’t show any reaction, ordered my lunch and when it came I picked up my plate and walked out the side door to sit in the scorching hot sun with those whom I recognized as beautiful people. So there I was, the only white sitting at that table sweating my ass off! The sweat dripped into my sandwich, my skin was burning and the ice in my drink quickly vaporized. I made people a little nervous at first but then they started asking me questions and soon we were laughing, telling jokes, and without my saying, they understood what I was doing. I was supplied with real silverware and a porcelain plate; they were all using plastic and paper. After I finished and said my goodbye’s I left my plate and silverware on the bench for the waitress to recover, and great laughter ensued! I ate there every single day for approximately one month. I stopped going inside and used the back window for ordering my food, just like my new acquaintances had to do. I eventually was “talked to” by some good ‘ole boys in a bar one night, words were exchanged, then a fight ensued. Eventually they got the best of me, however each of them wore reminders for quite some time, I absolutely could not back down, I was so angry at this insane stupidity. I recovered from it all well physically, but there remains a necessary scar on my soul and it “itched” when I learned of this sickening Neo-Nazi plot. I am so angry and heart-broken over this unnecessary insanity, I wish I could somehow stop it.
THAT IS WHY I WRITE THIS TO ALL OF YOU. I am not advocating violence in any way, I am advocating for non-violent measures, individual soul searching. The answer resides in our hearts, get past the fear and blame; listen to the still voice within; please I beg of you all.
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