The Fort Smith Experience Part 8

Up to this point in the series it is as if we have been in a raft (the kind they use to float down the Grand Canyon) floating down a gentle mountain stream.  In our journey we have been gradually examining some perspectives that we don't usually give much attention to.  At the end of Part 7 the incline of the stream we're floating down steepened and our velocity increased markedly.  In Part 8, the stream, with its increased rapidity of flow, shoots out over a high cliff and spills into the churning ocean below.  Of course, we and our raft, go with it.  Contrary to what  your survival instincts will probably be commanding you to do, now is the time to not hold on tight but to let go.  Let go of, or at least suspend, your preconceptions, your beliefs, your disbeliefs, your conclusions and so on and allow your mind to open up into the unknown that waits before us.

  In the time and space where we are falling towards our inevitable impact with the ocean surface, we need to take a look at some things that may appear to be random but, I assure you, are not.

  Even though, we are rarely mindful of what we're thinking or cognizant of how our thoughts determine our physical experience, in every nano-second that passes, the idea of confronting a mental illness is far more intimidating than the idea of confronting a physical illness.  Perhaps this has to do with our notion that when it comes to treating a physical illness, the process is tangible and chances for a viable repair are more probable than when it comes to treating an illness that is of the mind and not tangible.  In other words, we know that it is easier to repair a broken leg than it is to repair a psychotic mind.  The enduring outcome of a repaired broken leg is predictable but the enduring outcome of a seemingly repaired psychotic mind is not.  And that unpredictability plays a big part in what scares us.   Whenever (and I'm making a generalization here, of course, there are exceptions) we perceive mental illness in another we are frightened and consciously or unconsciously, we will physically and mentally withdraw ourselves from that person to some degree.

  At the end of Part 7 it was stated:  "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."  Even if it is intimidating,  I think the time has arrived when we should prepare ourselves to venture into the shadows of the city where, I suspect, the source of Fort Smith's psychosis will be discovered.  The 'shadows' represent the hidden, self-sabotaging, destructive mindset of Fort Smith. When it comes to looking into the shadows it is common that people would prefer to stay away rather than venture in as they find, even the thought of doing so, to be personally threatening. This common aversion to peering into the shadows makes for a most efficacious safeguard for the psychosis that resides there.   And, because the physical experience that is manifested by such dark thoughts is often times so incredible, incredibility also plays a protective role in effectively maintaining the existence of the psychosis. People easily reject the incredible without giving it any credence. It's too incredible to believe even if it's perceived. But rest assured that from out of the shadows some really scary, bizarre and incredible behavior takes tangible  form within the physical experience.

  Fort Smith has a social veneer where life is mild and friendly.  Upon this very thin surface is where the charm of the city exists and can be quite inviting.  On the surface people can be genuinely kind and gentle with one another, share trust, be happy, cooperate, collaborate and optimistically dream of an even better tomorrow. The social veneer is the experiential reflection (the physical reality) of the city's collective positive belief systems. This is what people like to talk about and promote to others. But, like I've mentioned, the social veneer is a very thin surface and it does not take much to break through it.  When a person or group does break through the veneer they immediately come into contact with a lighter gradation of Fort Smith's psychosis. This is where the "But" reality of Fort Smith makes its appearance.  At the point of breaking through the social veneer the person has entered the proverbial "rabbit hole" and from here on out no one or nothing is what it appears to be nor is anything ever really about what it seems to be about.  Everything in the rabbit hole is hidden behind multiple veils of deception.  The concept of hope, for example, in the rabbit hole, is a viable veil of deception that is SOP (standard operating procedure).

  For a while after I was again living in Fort Smith, my friends from where I had resided prior to moving back would ask me what it was like living here.  I would tell them that it was very strange living here. That it was as if I had somehow entered a different dimension where, even though things appeared to be typical in comparison to any other comparable city, they were not typical at all. The overall mentality here was incredibly fearful.  I told my friends that Fort Smith was a city that obviously had a lot of secrets to protect, and, even though I couldn't exactly put my finger on it, intuitively, I was perceiving something very sinister here.  I have heard some refer to it as "the gray arm" of Fort Smith.

  We have made impact with the surface of the ocean and the force of impact has plunged us below the surface.  It's now time to trade in our raft for a submarine.  See you in part 9.

  Cheers ~ a Pilgrim

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Comments

choose to see

Mike, what you choose to see you behold. Experience is ALWAYS preceded by choice. We behold what we choose to see. We interpret what we behold. That is; we compare (we are never not comparing) and we always judge in one of two directions...something is either better than or less than. Then, in response to our interpretation of what we behold, we choose again. This is a cycle that, for the most part, we seem to move through, more unconscious than not. In other words, movement through the cycle has been relinquished to some sort of auto-pilot stimulus response default system void of hardly any self awareness. And as we lose self we come to identify ever more closely with the artificial default system as representing who we are.
Mike, what you choose to see you behold. Experience is ALWAYS preceded by choice. We behold what we choose to see. We interpret what we behold. That is; we compare (we are never not comparing) and we always judge in one of two directions...something is either better than or less than. Then, in response to our interpretation of what we behold, we choose again. This is a cycle that, for the most part, we seem to move through, more unconscious than not. In other words, movement through the cycle has been relinquished to some sort of auto-pilot stimulus response default system void of hardly any self awareness. And as we lose self we come to identify ever more closely ...>> Read the entire comment.

Secrets and Sanctions

Can't wait for the submarine to surface so carry on sailor and be on notice that all through history some rulers have slain the messenger.

some rulers have slain the messenger

Anon, thank you for your comment and the warning. People need to be educated, but if one sets out to really tell them the truth, they had better be prepared to give up some popularity. A person has to accept that. There will, though, be people with ears that can hear so, by all means, let them hear. Success in the world is often times measured by how many heads a person can get to wag in agreement, but the truth doesn't get people's heads a wagging...instead, it shocks them or at least gets them questioning a lot of things that were not being questioned previously. Now Anon, don't take what I've just said to mean that I believe I am bringing the truth to the people of Fort Smith. Even if I wanted to I couldn't because, personally, at this point, I'm not even sure of what the "truth" is. Truth, to me it seems, is a transitory, if not completely elusive, concept. The best I can hope to do with my blog series is add some perspectives that might not of been being considered and prompt some questions to come to mind that may not have been being asked.
Anon, thank you for your comment and the warning. People need to be educated, but if one sets out to really tell them the truth, they had better be prepared to give up some popularity. A person has to accept that. There will, though, be people with ears that can hear so, by all means, let them hear. Success in the world is often times measured by how many heads a person can get to wag in agreement, but the truth doesn't get people's heads a wagging...instead, it shocks them or at least gets them questioning a lot of things that were not being questioned previously. Now Anon, don't take what I've just said to mean that I believe I am bringing ...>> Read the entire comment.

A cloak and dagger mystery

It is certainly educational and informative to learn how an experienced traveler views the world of Fort Smith because sometimes its difficult to see the real picture from within the box. If we are to grow and expand our horizons then it is very important to understand how we are viewed by the outside world. Carry on!

the 'real' picture from within the box

happy times, if we know what we're looking at or looking for, the 'real picture' is never not in plain view within the box. Everything one views outside their self, whether it is assigned to be more or less, good or bad, is but a reflection of that which is within. The answers to what is going on outside will never be found outside. The answers we seek will only be found within. The reflections that make up the 'outside' are, if we care to use them, our prompts to inquire to self: "Why do I think the way I do about...? Is what I think actually true? Can I absolutely know that it is true? How do I react as I believe this thought? Who or what would I be without this thought?" It requires a willingness and no small amount of courage to go within but the results can be incredibly remarkable!
happy times, if we know what we're looking at or looking for, the 'real picture' is never not in plain view within the box. Everything one views outside their self, whether it is assigned to be more or less, good or bad, is but a reflection of that which is within. The answers to what is going on outside will never be found outside. The answers we seek will only be found within. The reflections that make up the 'outside' are, if we care to use them, our prompts to inquire to self: "Why do I think the way I do about...? Is what I think actually true? Can I absolutely know that it is true? How do I react as I believe this thought? ...>> Read the entire comment.

Astute observation

Pilgrim, I enjoy your insights and again you hit it on the head. Fort Smith does have a pyschosis. I am not sure that it has any cause just as any mental disease. It could be genetic. In that case the cure is to broaden the gene pool. We are too inbred. That can be accomplished two ways; more funerals and an influx of new people. Psychosis is usually irrational fear. I see that in the postings of some of our friends on TCW. They seem to be afraid so someone making a project successful and thereby profiting by it. There is always something sinister behind any proposal and any misstep is the result of a conspiracy to harm "the hardworking taxpayer". People's integrity is challenged by these persons with only their own neuroses as proof. It becomes difficult for good people to seek positions of leadership when the reward is unrelenting criticism. I cite the recent attacks on David Hudson, one of the most conservative, and I mean in the fiscal sense here, public figures I have ever dealt with. Same for Ray Gosack. We need to pause and reflect on what Pilgrim has had to say before we go off on tangents.
Pilgrim, I enjoy your insights and again you hit it on the head. Fort Smith does have a pyschosis. I am not sure that it has any cause just as any mental disease. It could be genetic. In that case the cure is to broaden the gene pool. We are too inbred. That can be accomplished two ways; more funerals and an influx of new people. Psychosis is usually irrational fear. I see that in the postings of some of our friends on TCW. They seem to be afraid so someone making a project successful and thereby profiting by it. There is always something sinister behind any proposal and any misstep is the result of a conspiracy to harm "the hardworking taxpayer". ...>> Read the entire comment.

Broaden the gene pool

A lot of what is being described, I believe, boils down to "small town syndrome". Fort Smith has to be the biggest small town in America. Unlike Northwest Arkansas, data shows much of the in-migration to Sebastian County comes from the poor surrounding rural counties which only reinforce the prevalent, insular small town thinking. There is a friendly closeness to the community but also a deep fear of real change or anyone "different" from the norm. The other big in-migration is the Latino population, but they are kept at arm's length at best and don't really have a direct voice in the community. The cure is more new blood which is hopefully in progress with the growing immigrant community and UA-Fort Smith.
A lot of what is being described, I believe, boils down to "small town syndrome". Fort Smith has to be the biggest small town in America. Unlike Northwest Arkansas, data shows much of the in-migration to Sebastian County comes from the poor surrounding rural counties which only reinforce the prevalent, insular small town thinking. There is a friendly closeness to the community but also a deep fear of real change or anyone "different" from the norm. The other big in-migration is the Latino population, but they are kept at arm's length at best and don't really have a direct voice in the community. The cure is more new blood which is ...>> Read the entire comment.

Back On The Farm

When the Gene Pool becomes the problem in creation, we bring in a new bull that is not related to the current herd! New blood with a desire for the prize can change everything in a very short time.

the impact of in-migration

PartisanHack, I suspect that a key factor in how much or little influence those migrating into Fort Smith will have on the city's extant mindset, is what the in-migrant is comparing Fort Smith to. For example, I have met numerous people who moved to Fort Smith and, in comparison to where they live previously, considered the city to be a huge upgrade. Then, I have met many others who have moved here, or moved back here, for one reason or another, that, in comparing to other cities they have lived in, are baffled by the magnitude of backward thinking they encounter in Fort Smith as well as the nonsensical behavior consistently demonstrated by city government. There are in-migrants into Fort Smith that see new potential for themselves and their family that they didn't previously have where they resided before and that, understandably, is what their attention is focused upon. They aren't focused on what the city is doing. These folks are perhaps analogous to (although this can be easily taken to be a disparaging analogy it is not at all meant to be so) fleas on a dog. The fleas have no interest in what the dog is doing, where it's been or where it's going. Indeed, as long as the fleas are able to get on with their lives, believe they are bettering their lives and satisfy their needs, they're pretty much oblivious to the dog. Then there are others who move to Fort Smith that see incredible potential for the city and feel an obligation to help the city realize its potential with the belief, that by doing so, everyone will be able to benefit and enjoy a better quality of life. However, when they begin to take action in this direction (usually with great enthusiasm), they break through the social veneer and, whether overtly or covertly, are met with attack. I have witnessed some incredibly brilliant, altruistic individuals turned upside down and inside out when they hit this formidable "invisible fence" defense against progress by the city. Eventually, one of two things happens to these kind of people. They either get out of town as soon as possible, escaping to tell their bizarre and unbelievable tale of their experience in Fort Smith to others...or...they stay and adopt and demonstrate the negative belief system they encountered and were beaten by. In other words, they are assimilated by the dominant and prevailing belief system of Fort Smith. That said, I think that for any in-migration into Fort Smith to have a marked impact in breaking the city out of its detrimental mindset, the in-migration would have to be such an enormous surge of open-minded, broad minded individuals that, in their enormity, they could overwhelm, absorb and convert the extant negative belief systems that are here into belief systems that are conducive to sane expansion, progress and enduring prosperity. Fort Smith has all the necessary (and then some) raw materials from which to build a thriving, joyful, enlivened, prosperous city but the dominant fearful thinking of the city is such that the raw materials are forcefully held in check and access, if at all, limited to only a select few.
PartisanHack, I suspect that a key factor in how much or little influence those migrating into Fort Smith will have on the city's extant mindset, is what the in-migrant is comparing Fort Smith to. For example, I have met numerous people who moved to Fort Smith and, in comparison to where they live previously, considered the city to be a huge upgrade. Then, I have met many others who have moved here, or moved back here, for one reason or another, that, in comparing to other cities they have lived in, are baffled by the magnitude of backward thinking they encounter in Fort Smith as well as the nonsensical behavior consistently demonstrated by city government. ...>> Read the entire comment.

You Nailed it Pilgrim

No new thinking tolerated or welcomed because its just so safe to say "that's the way we have always done it" and with that mindset, the incompetent are able to thrive and survive with no thinking required!

Amen Pigrim

You have stated more eloquently than I could ever do my exact thoughts.

In so many words.....

Grandiloquent is more like it. Simply put, potential resettlers to Fort Smith need to remember one notion which is repeated in this town more than anywhere I have ever lived in my 60 years...."Due Diligence". There is a reason for this oft repeated word around here. What you see is not what you get. With PR window dressing at best or deliberate deception at worse, this town is what you make it for yourself....but there are so many other towns where you can do the same, if not better. So what makes Ft. Smith so special? Whatever it is, it pales alongside its moribund municipal machinations of malfeasance and mis-administration.

Ah Ha

massive malfeasance is certainly present but I cannot see any administration. It seems like the Department Heads at City Hall each operate without any guidance or supervision and its like a runaway freight train with nobody at the controls!

Bring 'em in.

Make it affordable, make it safe and make it clean.....they will come and stay. Seems simple enough. So, lower taxes and utility rates, don't reduce police and fire budgets, maintain public and private property. Do this and the town will promote itself.

Between heredity and environment, it's got to be

..both. I think overall we now have a city government that terrific compared to the past but before the long necks start flying allow me to point out I think most of the past ones were absolutely terrible. An administrator (old family name BTW)who regularly rendered himself unable to do his job, a Director who couldn't attend meetings for years and represent her ward (even though it was a plus) stayed on, another Director who didn't even live in her ward but since she was married to the police chief...oh come on it is not all our fault that that we think small here!

Past Luxuries

With the loss of industrial generated tax revenues, we simply cannot afford mediocrity, mismanagement and corruption anymore. There was always something left over in the good old boys'trough after the feeding frenzies in the good old days. Not so anymore.Game over.

Thanks Gen4

still rolling on the floor laughing from reading your comment and its just sooo true! its better than Saturday Night Live and when the professional actors grow and leave the show, there are always replacements waiting in the wings for their shot at prime time in Fort Smith.

hate

is an evil poison. The vitriol for others, this city and even person unknown has reached an intolerable level. Those so infected with hate need a remedy for their sour dispositions

remedy for sour disposition

Anon, hate is the absence of Love. Hate is a manifestation of fear. Fear is fragmented and it fragments. In other words, fear only acts to separate, split apart and divide. And as it does so it both attacks and defends (two sides of the same coin). Blaming, judging and condemning others is fear's basic modus operandi. Love, on the other hand, joins things together. Love unifies, collaborates and cooperates. It is probably the only truly viable remedy for sour dispositions and a remarkably efficacious way to administer it is through forgiveness void of any judgment.

Hate Created

Could you imagine what it would be like trying to support your family in Fort Smith in the present job market and not being able to find a job? It could be one of the main reasons for the sour dispositions and the rise in crime.

Excuses

Not having a Job is not a good excuse for committing a crime and it about as bad of an excuse as city leaders wanting to raises taxes because they can't control their spending.

Beyond the gene pool

When I read the comments referring to broadening the gene pool, I was reminded of a conversation I had several years ago with a person who had, after many years of travelling and living in other towns and cities, moved back to his hometown in AR (not too distant from Fort Smith). He shared with me that to once again be living in his hometown was proving to be a most severe and abrasive reality adjustment for him, especially with regard to the prevailing mindset of his fellow citizens. His thought was that the most expedient remedy for what he viewed as being such a perverted, backward mindset, was for the town to quickly engage in a sperm exchange program with numerous and diverse cities in locations far from his town. We laughed, but he was quite serious about this. He had come to believe that this was the only viable solution available, otherwise the town was doomed to remain imprisoned within the limitations of its own design. I do understand what this person was experiencing and on more than a few occasions I have certainly had the thought that his proposed remedy, did indeed, have the highest probability of being the most workable long term solution to exploding Fort Smith out of its incredibly tenacious mental inertia. In reading the comments I see that I'm not the only one that has thought this way. However, that noted, I have changed my perspective about this. The viable solution will not be found in the blood (the physical realm). It will be found in beliefs (the realm of thought). Fort Smith does not need a change of DNA it needs a change in mind. It needs a change in its thinking as all doing originates from thinking. It is the conscious and unconscious transference of nonviable, contra-survival beliefs systems from generation to generation that I see as the problem, not the transference of genes.
When I read the comments referring to broadening the gene pool, I was reminded of a conversation I had several years ago with a person who had, after many years of travelling and living in other towns and cities, moved back to his hometown in AR (not too distant from Fort Smith). He shared with me that to once again be living in his hometown was proving to be a most severe and abrasive reality adjustment for him, especially with regard to the prevailing mindset of his fellow citizens. His thought was that the most expedient remedy for what he viewed as being such a perverted, backward mindset, was for the town to quickly engage in a sperm exchange program with ...>> Read the entire comment.

the same idea

When I refer to the gene pool I mean the mind set that seems to be genetic. It is the mind set and it can only be changed by an influx of new people with a different way of thinking about things.

the mindset can only be changed

Observer, I did get that you were thinking of the Fort Smith mindset when you referred to broadening the gene pool in your earlier comment. But, in your bringing it up, you presented me with an opportunity to address the physical connotation and thereby emphasize the nonphysical. If the mindset can only be changed by an influx of new people with a different way of thinking about things...Fort Smith is in for just more of the same. I say this Observer because, like particles attract like particles. Therefore, the extant mindset of Fort Smith will continue to attract to it those people and businesses that embody a like mindset. And, if someone happens to arrive here that is not a like particle...well, they won't be here long. I believe the only viable way the mindset of Fort Smith can be changed is if it occurs from within. A line from June Jordan's, A Poem for African Women, is, I think, appropriate to use here: "We are the ones we have been waiting for." But...where are we? It appears we need to find ourselves - our real selves.
Observer, I did get that you were thinking of the Fort Smith mindset when you referred to broadening the gene pool in your earlier comment. But, in your bringing it up, you presented me with an opportunity to address the physical connotation and thereby emphasize the nonphysical. If the mindset can only be changed by an influx of new people with a different way of thinking about things...Fort Smith is in for just more of the same. I say this Observer because, like particles attract like particles. Therefore, the extant mindset of Fort Smith will continue to attract to it those people and businesses that embody a like mindset. And, if someone happens to arrive ...>> Read the entire comment.

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