Before Self-Comprehension Can Begin

Before I could begin to discover who and what I was; before I could begin to search and understand, I had to survive. I realize now that a large part of my early years were about survival. I didn’t know where or how to begin to live and so it was an endless search for who and what I could trust in. There was often only the instinct for survival, at that time, the insane fumbling actions and  drive to find stability and security, however misguided and superficial it had been; in that chaos.

I went to see the documentary movie “I am Not  Your Negro” today at the TIFF. Last week it saw Denzil Washington’s “Fences” and last month it was the movies  “Hidden Figures”, “Moonlight” and “Loving”.  These were all about Black America and the  struggle and adversity that African-Americans have encountered.  Much of the focus on life for a large percentage of them was survival.

At a social level my struggles and life issues did not compare with the suffering that they encountered. But even the white Americans who have been the oppressors were struggling with survival it seems. Fear of how black Americans  would respond, in their freedom, must have been a concern for them. Why else would they choose to live a broken, fragmented  and delusional reality that slavery and segregation  brought. Yet how can anyone truly  come to know themselves  in this atmosphere of fear and insecurity that their social and personal delusions reinforced.

One thought on “Before Self-Comprehension Can Begin

  1. I say Moonlight on the weekend and thought it was very good.

    I think you are right about survival. It isn’t just physical survival, but survival in the face of fears which may or may not be rational. In Moonlight the main character’s tough guy persona toward the end of the film seems to be a way to survive in the face of a fear of the vulnerability involved in seeking intimacy, something which is understandable given that he is gay and gay intimacy is something dangerous to seek in the homophobic “gangsta” culture.

    The best of us is expressed when we feel we have a choice about how we behave. Too often, especially in adolescence and mid-adulthood, we feel hemmed in by personal fears and a sense that we have to work within the rules set by others. Where there is social oppression this can be true on both sides of it. It takes great personal confidence to go against the grain, and thus make oneself a target of the oppression.


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