In dealing with the destructive legacies of our past, we must firstly acknowledge that we are not starting from a blank canvas.
The canvas of our past is already loaded with many pre-colours, has a restrictive palette from which to choose, is framed in certain ways, and is still missing many important brushstrokes.
Indeed, the ‘past’ remains an extremely complex, sensitive, emotive and divisive issue to which we have already applied much of those enduring pre-colours in overladen layers, so much so that the canvas itself has become rather rigid, inflexible and deeply stained with disputed colours.
Whilst much of the detail has been applied in colours from our traditional palette, which themselves do not tend to mix very well, we also have an inherent preference to view these in a restrictive format, with no discerning artistic eye for the intricacies that would allow the more subtle and diverse shades to shine through affording a much richer interpretation.
Indeed, it is our over-reliance on narrow and parochial viewpoints that limit us in seeking out our ‘brand new day.’
When presented with an already deeply discoloured canvas, any new brushstrokes will naturally remain resistant, and our traditional palette of competitive-colours will continue to dominate.
This ensures that we typically continue to reject all colours, which don’t fit within our carefully constructed ideological framing, as these are not colours we want on the canvas or a brushstroke we are prepared to acknowledge or accept.
If we are to re-imagine, re-consider and re-paint our past it is only through carefully peeling back those deeply layered pre-colours and exposing them to the light of reality. In that way we can allow ourselves to return to a blank-canvas, construct new framing, and supplement the palette with paint of a brighter cue.
Only then can any new brushstrokes be applied with hindsight, imagination, generosity and caution.
It is not just our lack of vision as well as a distorted ideological optical nerve that keeps us colour-blind, but it is also our language and how we articulate, that shortchanges us.
Far too often our language heavily weighted with perception and accusation, is nailed down with rigid ideological tacks.
We ought to be aware that language is the interface with our own thoughts and outward expression. This is more often than not a product of learned and predictive behaviour rather than some new construct.
In understanding our present we still refer to the phrasebook of our past.
Of course, we invariably cling to what we know, that with which we were most familiar and comfortable, that which gave us the greater certainty and meaning. It is a human trait forged in our own insecurity.
It was in OPPRESSION, RESISTANCE & DEFENCE that many of us found our greater meaning and certainty. Regrettably we have ended up clinging to the language that best encapsulated that mind-set rather than facing up to an uncertain world. That is our default position.
The reality is this: we can’t hope to solve the complexity of our current problems with the same mindsets that created those problems in the first place. We need new linguistic and imaginative skill sets to set the compass for our unchartered course.