Since it has been a couple of weeks that have passed since Part 6 was posted, in order to put us back into the discussion, I'm going to begin by excerpting what was stated at the very end of that post, which was really the major point of that post.
"In the many, many conversations I had had over the years with folks about Fort Smith it didn't take long for me to recognize a dominant pattern in these conversations. Typically, they began with speaking about the positive, appealing and appreciated aspects of Fort Smith then would evolve into hopeful talk about the future developments and direction of the city. The hopeful talk would quickly reach a peak at which point it would be immediately downgraded into being categorized as...so much wishful thinking. And here is where the "But" would be injected into the conversation. Many times the actual word was used, many times it was only implied. And although the versions of what was being said were extremely varied, the essence of the message was always the same..."It will never happen in Fort Smith." What is it that would never happen? The potential, that is so obvious to so many, would never be realized. It would never happen. Some unseen, evasive and powerful force, that seemed to be an inherent part of the city, would in some way, keep it from happening.
" I realized that I, at some point, had adopted (had come into agreement with) the "But" reality of Fort Smith. The "But" reality that is the prevailing reality of the city of Fort Smith represents the tip of the iceberg that is the collective and negative belief system harbored by both residents and nonresidents alike of Fort Smith. It is the door to the 'why' that explains the reason Fort Smith is the way it is."
There is an important point that I neglected to mention when I described one of my typical conversations about Fort Smith. After the "But" was stated, or in some way implied, the person I was speaking to would usually refer to a 'who,' a 'they' or a 'what' that they considered to be the source of suppression that was stopping Fort Smith from realizing its many potentials. By far, folks would most commonly simply designate the suppressive source as being "the city." And the person would always say "the city" in a manner that made it clear that "the city" was something very different from them. Oh yeah, one more thing about this point...another thing that was usually made clear by the person I was talking with was, that whatever had been identified as being the 'source'...that any attempt to best it would be an exercise in futility.
Following are excerpts from comments or statements made within articles that have been posted on TCW. The "But" reality is so prevalent in the collective consciousness of Fort Smith that one does not have to look hard or far to find a plethora of examples. These few excerpts that I've copied and pasted from TCW serve, I think, as good examples of the "But" reality. See what you think. Note: Within the excerpts I have italicized key words that either directly state or imply the "But" reality. Here they are:
"We have a great work force, we the tax revenues, we have highway 40, we have the river, we have the weather climate for events, but we lack the spark in leadership to take advantage of all the assets."
"The most common spin I hear today goes something like this. 'With the confluence of the Arkansas River, our proximity to Interstate 40 and the soon to be completed Interstate 49, and access to railroads, Fort Smith should soon prosper.' "
"...we owe a lot to the great citizens of Fort Smith for making the city a wonderful community. However, Fort smith is not a good community to be looking for....The past and present direction of city leadership has been on format of a strong central city government that has provided many good results but lacked the spirit of cooperation with...Yes, Fort smith is a great place to live but why are all of our young educated professionals traveling to other communities to work?...Fort Smith is great for families that own a long term existing business for the children to grow into but lacks opportunity..."
"We returned and retired to Fort Smith, the wife's childhood home to 'experience' the best of both world's; a slower pace without big city problems and without rural isolation. It is good enough here but could be much better at minimum cost of time, money and effort."
In the next five excerpts the "But" reality might not be so obvious, though, if you look close, you will see it. What I find interesting in these five excerpts is that they reveal that the author of each has the awareness and recognition that the city of Fort Smith has a mindset problem. Again, I have italicized certain key words.
"Talking about wanting Fort Smith to be a more prosperous city and how to make it that way is easy, convincing the people of Fort Smith they have the power to do that may not be so easy." My note: convincing the people of Fort Smith they have the power...whoa! what a change of mind (belief) that would be!
"If people want real change, then the anti business attitude of city hall needs changing and Fort Smith needs to enter a new era..."
"...the main problem we have is mindset."
"Most importantly, how does one change the mindset of an entire community into one where children grow up proud to say where they were raised?"
"I would argue it provides a picture of the possibilities of what could happen in Fort Smith if Fort Smith could develop a mindset and a vision of the future and work together to attract (or grow our own) economic development."
Form emerges from thought. Form is the reflection of thought. Doing comes from thinking. Experience is always preceded by choice. What one believes is true is true for them. Belief determines choice. Experience (the reflection) will always validate, reinforce and support the belief. Now...what does all this mean? It simply means that thought is senior to form and that what you believe in is what you get. For example, if one believes that life is a bitch and then they die that will be their life experience. If one believes that life is a joy and then they ascend that will be their life experience.
Fort Smith is a state of mind. Or, I guess it would be more accurate for me to say that my state of mind is reflected in my experience of Fort Smith. In any case, the ubiquitous and enduring presence of the "But" reality with regards to Fort Smith by its residents and nonresidents alike, and the fact that people, like myself, that move in from somewhere else that do not have a "But" reality about Fort Smith, yet, eventually adopt it...informs us that the belief and a reinforcing experience, are deeply, deeply ingrained within the collective consciousness of this city. To assist in hopefully getting a clearer perspective of this, imagine Fort Smith being a large block of aged oak. The "But" reality represents the head (the only visible part) of a long screw that has been screwed as far as it can go into the block of wood. The many threads on the screw represent the aggregation of negative belief systems existing below awareness level. From these unconscious negative belief systems (the 'unseen hand') emerge the experience of Fort Smith.
The city of Fort Smith is ill but the illness is not physical it's mental. This illness, being a mental illness, cannot be remedied by treating the physical. In other words, better roads, better landscaping, better sidewalks, adding museums, water parks, events etc., will not heal what's wrong with this city. Attempting to heal Fort Smith by addressing its physical components is tantamount to focusing on a mirror in order to change the image it's reflecting. That being noted, how do we go about treating the mental illness of a city? Got any bright ideas? Well, this gives us something to be pondering so we can discuss this further in part eight. See you there.