Contact Ken gilbert | embodyment

Contact ken gilbert | EMBODYMENT

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I do not want to be taught . . .

Ken Gilbert


I was 7 years old, living in Columbus, Ohio, when my family of five (I have two brothers) was driving home one afternoon; we passed by the local Drive-In Movie Theater. My Mom turned to my Dad commenting on the current feature “South Pacific”: “Let’s go tonight, honey.” “Go to what?,” I asked. I was captivated by the idea that a movie would have songs and dancing.

That was 1958, and 58 years later I still remember every moment of the movie – imagery and song. This morning in the wake of the Orlando tragedy of an unnecessary massacre, the media coverage of a “bully-driven” primary presidential campaign and the ongoing and internal unrest of terrorist threats, I am caught up in one song from Rodgers’ and Hammerstein’s musical: SOUTH PACIFIC.

You’ve Got To Be Carefully Taught  

You've got to be taught

To hate and fear,

You've got to be taught

From year to year,

It's got to be drummed

In your dear little ear

You've got to be carefully taught.

You've got to be taught to be afraid

Of people whose eyes are oddly made,

And people whose skin is a diff'rent shade,

You've got to be carefully taught.

You've got to be taught before it's too late,

Before you are six or seven or eight,

To hate all the people your relatives hate,

You've got to be carefully taught!

Bias, bigotry, prejudice, preference and choice are aspects of human being and behavior. If I don’t understand something that is different from me in my life and experiences, I do have a choice about how I think, feel and act about whatever it is. Just now, in writing this, I began to label myself with a title – “White European Male” – and, in this moment I stopped to realize that in this title I am initiating a litany of bias by defining myself as separate from others who are not like me. In this moment, I am a person who is upset about the current state of human behavior that instills hatred before curiosity, which condemns another before questioning, which creates a barrier rather than a bridge to understanding and compassion.

In 1971, I choose to become a theatre artist, to look inside characters and their behavior; to be compassionate to another’s pain, suffering, humiliation, perseverance, esteem, pride and grace. In 1986, I began my journey into my darkest shadows with Reichian Therapy, seeing parts of myself that were revealed as truths that I was holding. Every day I look again and again at what I judge and condemn . . . I want and need for this to change.

I will look at the heinous acts of others and question them as actions that are revealing something about humanity. I will pause before I comment about another. I will empower myself to walk among others knowing that I can only be who I am.

Today, I do not want to be taught hate and fear.