Ever since I heard the Kanye TMZ interview and listened to Kanye’s two new songs, I have been watching the thoughts that arise in my consciousness around the points that I think he thinks he is trying to make. Of course, you can’t make sense out of nonsense. That is the Roofless Church’s Cardinal Insight. However, I do believe that one can watch the process of someone’s thoughts and can get an idea of what their intent is no matter how off the mark it might turn out. For example, if you see someone with a bow and arrow in their hands and they are pointing the arrow in the general vicinity of a target, you can safely assume that they are intending to hit the bull’s eye even if they miss the target entirely and end up shooting themselves in the butt. And yet, we live in a strange enough world that some people may very well have the aim of missing on purpose just to prove a point.
But, for the sake of this post, I am going to assume that Kanye has some intent that he believes will have a benevolent outcome. And I will not leave it out of the realm of possibility that he just may be doing a performance piece similar to what Joaquin Phoenix attempted when he pretended to be retired from acting so that he might pursue his career as a rapper. But until Yee reveals some grand plan like that, I am going to write as if when he sang “Poopityscoop” in his song, Lift Yourself (which I imagine invokes the flawed “Bootstrap myth“), it was because that was exactly what was going through his head.
God Can Use Ignorance for an Intelligent Purpose
Look, I’m not going to pretend to know exactly what Kanye is thinking with some of the statements that he’s made recently. And the fact is I don’t need to. But, I can look at the effects of what he said and see the net results–that people are talking in ways that many of us haven’t before. And in the long run, I can see that being a good thing whether that was his intent or not. Same goes for his dragon energy soul brother when looking through a certain lens. According to my criteria, I wouldn’t label Team Double Dragon “stable geniuses”, but I can tell you for certain that the things they are saying and doing are really causing this country to hold a mirror up to itself.
There’s just something about a black person in a “Make America Great Again” hat that I imagine makes even the most ardent white “MAGA”ers cringe. It’s almost as challenging as the black people who support the confederate flag. But Why? Well because for a lot of us, those words plus a red hat have come to mean something specific to a specific group of people. But in reality, the red hat/MAGA combo only has the meaning that we give it. It does not objectively exist as a symbol of everything Trumpian. It’s Trumpticity is merely an association created by a group of people looking for something to believe in in a world they don’t want to believe has lied to them. Their hedging their bets on a dying worldview refusing to come to terms with the realization that MAGA is just propaganda and can be dissolved just as easily as it has been fabricated. And, according to the lyrics in one his songs, it seems that is the point Yeezy is trying to make in the best way he knows how. Although he isn’t trying to totally destroy MAGA, he seems to believe he can repurpose it for a greater good. At least that’s what I hope he’s thinking. Or maybe he’s just playing us all.
Sneetches Get Steetches
Case in point, Dr. Seuss’ book, The Sneetches. Do you remember how those star belly Sneetches thought that the star on their bellies made them superior to those with “none upon thars”? They went around profiling, holding their noses up in the air while the starless Sneetches walked around all defeated and depressed because they bought into the lie that star bellies were the best. So consequently, they lived with internalized starism and oppression wishing they had stars too. And because of their mutual insecurity founded upon a false premise, this dude with both star putter on-er and star taker offer machines was able to come on the scene and play both the starred and non-starred Sneetches. And because they were too busy trying to build their self-esteem on arbitrary physical assignments, neither of them could see it coming,
Now, I don’t know who Kanye would say he was is in this parable, but I can say that he is fully aware that he has the power to choose what meaning he wants to assign to the MAGA red hat or anything for that matter. And I think he believes that in wearing that hat and making outlandish statements, he is demonstrating that power so that others can take advantage of that same ability. He says as much in his new song Ye vs the People. He calls this “free thinking”. Of course that is a tough pill for many people to swallow. So as a thought experiment I want to challenge you all by asking you this question, “What if Hillary’s campaign came up with the red MAGA hat? How would we respond if suddenly, say, David Duke started wearing it?” Can you imagine that for a moment? I’m not asking this to be incendiary, but simply to point out that in and of itself, the red MAGA hat is neutral. So in theory, anyone could put that hat on and decide it means whatever they want it to mean. Now saying this, I’ll be honest and say that I get all twitchy in the presence of red hats. But I’m not proud of it. I don’t want a hat to have control over me. That’s why I put in the work to watch my thoughts and motivations.
As a Person Thinketh…
As I wrote in another post, You Are Not Your Thoughts, the average human brain processes between 50,000 and 80,000 thoughts a day. With that many thoughts passing through our mental highways and byways, there are probably tens of thousands of thoughts that are not worth giving our energy to. Unfortunately, most of us do not realize that we do not have to believe everything we think we think. That’s not a typo. I think that many of us don’t think what we think we think. Far too many of us are tuned to only pay attention to the thoughts that are assigned to our group and have never discovered that just like every frequency that exists comes in contact with an antenna, but the antenna only receives what it is tuned for, all thoughts imaginable are accessible to the consciousness of every human, but most of us only pick on what we are tuned for–which usually translates to what we were taught to believe with only minor variations dictated by our survival impulses.
Now if that sounds a little farfetched or new age-y for you, check out Romans 1:20 (KJV Edition) where it says that everything knows and understands the power of God even unto the eternal Godhead. In other words, even ancient people thought that we are equipped to know the mind of God according to one of the most active religions. Talk about a lot of thoughts (at least potentially). But my real point of bringing this up is simply to say that we have the power and capacity to think anything we want. But as Paul said, “While all things are lawful, not everything is convenient.” In other words, just because you can think it, doesn’t necessarily mean it makes sense to say it or that it even makes sense at all. As every public speaking class teaches you, know your audience. But more importantly, we most know ourselves.
Handle With Care
One of the things the Bible tries to teach us is that words we use have the power to help life flourish or to end life. That’s why, as free as we are to think whatever we want to think, how we articulate those thoughts is a responsibility that we shouldn’t take lightly. Likewise, I think we all should take responsibility for how we react or respond to the words we hear from others. For just as we have the power to transform the meaning of anything that appears in the phenomenal world, we can decide how we will let those words effect us.
When I couple everything that came out of Kanye’s mouth and what I’ve seen of his social media accounts in the past few weeks with his song, Lift Yourself, I can assume either that he’s really gone off the deep end or that he is trying to make a point that we’re not getting or he doesn’t know how to make quite yet. So for now, I am not defending or condemning Kanye on his possible intent. I am suspending judgment while acknowledging that his comments on slavery were irresponsible at best and full of Poopityscoop. That being said, I have been laughing at that song for days now. So I have to thank him for that–whether he meant to be taken seriously or not.
Where is the line between free thought and free expression?