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I want to show you the truest example of what ‘woke” is. Yes, this word has been used as a definition of someone obtaining the highest consciousness in our society, a slang term used by the black community and appropriated by the larger society (what else is new?) The following scene is from the movie Charly based on a short story by Daniel Keyes’s “Flowers for Algernon”. Link here for background to the plot of the story, but in the movie, Charlie Gordon has just finished a procedure to increase his intelligence. Paraded by the doctors who operated on him, it’s only fitting Charlie addresses the crowd with his newfound intelligence and his thoughts on the world he is now consciously living in:
‘Things as they are. And what they are becoming.’
I wager an intellect understands things are they are in our society today. Through no fault of his or her own, they have seen partisan politics, poverty, and other social ills affect us all. They know their voices will be stifled by the carnival barkers, the many voices of dissention and rancor among us, often for profit or relevancy. In today’s ongoing stream of the internet, fringe voices that at one time were too small or narrow to alter the minds of the masses are now enhanced, bolstered to promote their various conspiracies and agendas. What Charlie warned us what will come to pass, has happened. There is no ‘1984‘ philosophy at work, but a Brave New World society where anything goes – and often for the worst. The intellect also understands the patterns of mistakes we make in Mankind contributes to our downfall. When irrationality and persuasive emotion persist without reason, the chaos we’re experiencing this year alone is a testament to what Mr. Gordon tried to tell us, but we didn’t want to believe.
Charlie Gordon for his part was spared in the end. We may think his fate was unfortunate, but in his case he had entered Plato’s cave, found the light too bright to see and returned back to the state where he once belonged. If you reader, know about Plato’s The Allegory of The Cave, you will recognize Charlie’s ascent and descent after viewing the bright light of reason and intellect. A light that was too bright for him. Truthfully, this is written because in this election year, we are witnessing incidents in our body politic that were one time unthinkable, now winked at or shrugged without a thought. We see individuals we would call associate, neighbor or friend lusting for cultural vengeance no matter what the cost. We see division and hatred on a level that hasn’t been seen in decades. Yes, if Charlie Gordon were alive today to see this, I can see him not only mourning for Algernon, the mouse used for the experiment to increase his intellect, but he may also shed a tear for our generation, and those fortunate enough to follow.
Charles L. Chatmon
Owner, Chatmon’s Books