In society, we tend to stay away from “dark” emotions like melancholy, sadness, depression. We value emotions like happiness and cheerfulness more. And while I understand and agree that we should value these emotions, I argue that “dark” emotions are what makes life so valuable. We are always wanting to celebrate and fully experience our happy emotions, yet we shy away and tend to hide, or even deny our “dark” emotions. We wish to hide way from our darkness. Is not the light in me just as much me as the darkness in me? why hide from yourself? If the light in me is internal so must the darkness be. It is about time we face and acknowledge our complete self. How can we recognize what happiness is without experiencing the sadness in our lives? It is at this point of sadness, of melancholy, of depression that we truly realize how strong we are. Martin Luther King Jr. once said “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moment of comfort and convenience, but where he stand at times of challenge and controversy”. These “dark” emotions are sort of the measuring stick of our strength. These emotions give us the opportunity to recognize and meet our true self. Whenever I am overwhelmed by melancholy, significant questions come to mind; why do I feel this way? what is this trying to teach me? how can I utilize this energy? how can I grow from this? I refuse to hide from myself, even if it is the darkness in me. In a way, happiness is the reward we receive when we are courageous enough to face our darkness; happiness and acceptance, acceptance of self. We must muster up the valor to acknowledge and recognize the self completely. the dark and the light side. It is a good thing to experience one’s self. We must understand that sadness and suffering are core parts of the universal experience.A good life is not immune to sadness. A good life is where suffering contributes to our development.To understand our sadness, is to realize that you are not the only one experiencing this melancholy, you have not been single-handedly picked out to experience this pain, that every human experience these feelings, it is a human experience. This understanding of self only leads to empathy; empathy for your fellow humans, empathy for the world you live in. Sadness, when understood properly, will make you kinder, forgiving, and patient.
I am not quite sure how to begin my thoughts on this subject. In the 21st century, the curriculum we have chosen to judge our fellow human beings scare me deeply. It seems to me that humans are now valued by not only how much values you have, but also by how valuable your values are. Now, my definition of values in this context does not have to do with principles, ethics, or morals – it simply has to do with material gain. We are only valued by our values – meaning, in society, I am only valued by what type of car I drive, or what type of watch I wear, or what luxurious materials I have gained.
Unfortunately, humans will buy these ultimately meaningless materials, internally screaming for the love and attention of other humans. We are not valued and loved for simply being human.
“The things you own, end up owning you” – Tyler Durden
This leads me onward to the topic of success and failure. The overall general idea of success is money. Since we have learned to judge people by the materials they have accumulated, this idea of success seems like the ultimate goal for any human. We are certain that if we reach this level of success, society will value us and finally recognize our full humanity. On the other hand, failure is a frightening ordeal. If we are to fail, meaning no material gains, no rags to riches, no money in your account – society will judge you accordingly. You become devalued, less than, almost dehumanized. This is quite a dangerous way of thinking. Whether humans are succeeding or failing, we are to be valued simply because we are human. I imagine one of the most difficult things to be, is human. When life throws its curveballs, and unpredictable circumstances, it is the human body and the human psyche that stand against these ordeals – I believe humans deserve praise simply for this act. I consider everyone that is still living and breathing to be strong – because to live in this world, whether you are failing or succeeding, takes strength.
Loneliness is my best friend. I recall seeing an anti-depressant commercial where a woman’s depression was depicted as her shadow, which followed her every where she went, it clung to her no matter what, and was always looking over her shoulder. I was amazed when I first saw this commercial because it vividly illustrated how I felt about my loneliness. I have been lonely all my life. I can not remember a phase in my life where loneliness was not a companion. I was lonely in 8th grade, few years later in college, my relationship with loneliness is ever so strong. My social anxiety has always paralyzed me from advancing in my social life. I remember back in junior high when I would hear people complain about someone texting them back too slow, or not texting them back at all – I would curse them, because I couldn’t even think of anyone to text. Don’t get me wrong, there are sometimes when I am at campus, laughing and joking with friends, colleagues, & scholars. Times when I feel loved. Times when I feel “normal”. But soon as they leave, my loneliness is exposed, and my invisible friend makes its presence known. Loneliness is like a black hole that is consistently sucking away your life’s energy. Ultimately, at the end of my day, when I have no one to talk to, loneliness is there. I belief I certainly lack the words to effectively describe the pain loneliness brings. Some internal wounds are more excruciating than physical wounds. Loneliness is not always about obtaining friends, sometimes you just seek understanding. I suppose there are some benefits that come with loneliness. You tend to be more comfortable with yourself. You have time to meditate on who you truly are, and to plan on who you wish to become. But loneliness might be too heavy a price. I imagine one of the most scariest things to a human is being alone with our thoughts. This is why whenever we do find ourselves alone, we have the habit of grabbing our phones, searching through it aimlessly, just to keep our minds busy. No matter what facades we put up, or what substances we use to mask ourselves – the truth is, we all seek companionship. I was once told that nothing limits human potential like rejection. Everyone wishes to be accepted as they truly are. There is a saying that goes “Friendship is essential to the soul”. I believe love is an essential nutrient for the soul. My relationship with loneliness has been interesting, but I am ready to separate from my parasitic friend.
Some ways I’ve been told to deal with loneliness is by talking to more people, putting myself in environments with like-minded individuals, joining a club/organizations , going out more e.t.c. I have also been trying to burst out of my comfort zone, and put myself in not so familiar situations. I just began implementing these solutions so the results are steadily coming, but they are coming nonetheless. I urge anyone who battles loneliness on a daily basis to not succumb to drugs or other substances – using it to mask your loneliness. I urge you to face your loneliness. James Baldwin once declared “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”. If you wish to really remove loneliness from your life, take action. I have decided to face my loneliness so I can change it.
Throughout the history of African Americans in America, African history has always been diminished. According to white Americans, our history started with slavery. Before slavery, we were considered savages who swung from tree to tree like Tarzan, and threw poop as a defense mechanism. We needed the European saviors to come tame and civilize us. This was (overall) the narrative of Africa in the western world. In 2016, we have passed (for the most part) the overwhelming ignorance towards Africa. Now we are aware of great advance civilizations (like Kemet, Mali, and the Dogon people) who existed before any European intervention. Before Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., or James Baldwin, we have learned of great black people like Mansa Musa, King Tut, and Cleopatra. Unfortunately, and weirdly enough, with this new knowledge comes a new ignorance. While I know the image of white Jesus has destroyed and dis-empowered black people in various ways, I have to emphasis that Horus was NOT real either. I repeat, Isis, Horus, Osiris were not real people. I understand, now realizing the truth, some African Americans wish to value their original black mythology. But to pretend Horus is not just as mythological as Jesus is dangerous. African Americans who indulge in this dangerous type of attitude also argue that “the white man” stole the story of Jesus from Horus. While the European is notoriously known for conquering, ravaging, and stealing, I argue that ideas influence and inspire ideas. Humans have always inspire other humans. The Walkman inspired the Ipod. I argue, what is wrong with the story of Jesus being influenced by the story of Horus? Overall, I see this dangerous act as one obtaining his or her freedom but still choosing to remain a slave. Why release yourself from Jesus just to fall into Horus? Using Horus to condemn Jesus is just the same as Europeans using Jesus to condemn Horus. Ultimately, I believe everyone should have the freedom to believe in what she or he wants as long as it does not affect other humans in a negative manner. To abandon Jesus, and jump on Horus’s dick is progress to some, but it is insignificant progress to me. Please do not mistake me for defending Jesus. At the end of the day, to me, mythology is just myth. Stories we can learn from, but that are not meant to be taken serious.
I really hate (hate is a strong word… Let’s say, I utterly despise when women, especially feminist, fail to recognize how patriarchy devalues men also. Patriarchy teaches men that out of the range of emotions a human has, we can only express one or two, that out of the plethora of emotions that I am able to have, I should only express anger, or frustration or any other emotion that does not make me seem weak or human. While I think it is important to recognize that women are gravely hurting in this patriarchal society, I also believe it is just as important to recognize that men are silently hurting. For example, when a woman declares she’s been raped, even without evidence, she is ultimately believed, consoled, nurtured. But, if man declares he has been raped, he will most likely be laughed at or be ridiculed and people will find it hard to believe. While I do not wish rape on anyone, this is an example of how society is so quick to help the woman heal, but we are just as quick to laugh at the man’s pain. Many men who are rape victims are still hurting & bleeding internally, because society tell us that we are not allowed to feel pain, we are not allowed to be vulnerable, we are to be strong, stoic, & invincible at all times. Hell, if you truly advocate for rape, you would know most of the rapes in this country happen in male prisons. The idea of patriarchy is perpetuated equally by both men and women. Some women can not even handle a man crying because they have bought into the idea that men are supposed to be strong at all times. We all know this is impossible. We all have our times of vulnerability, times where we need rest from our turbulent battles with the harsh realities of life. I would urge men & women to join together against patriarchy because patriarchy is the enemy of humanity.