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The Fort Smith Experience Part 11

“A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”   ~ Albert Einstein

Instead of using part 11 to delve more into secrecy and secrets I've decided to wait and use part 12 for that.  I want to use part 11 to examine some earlier statements I've made and see if they are still viable and then see what that flows into.  That said, I'll begin with a couple of lines from the first paragraph in part 1.  

"...even though Fort Smith is included in the title of this blog and even though it may appear throughout this blog, Fort Smith is not the subject of the blog. Instead, it is 'experience' that will be the focus of this writing." This statement isn't exactly accurate is it?  It seems to imply that Fort Smith and the experience are two different things.  However, Fort Smith is the experience and it is the experience that we're exploring.  And while the experience does seem to be the focus of this series, it is really more about what is causing the experience (the belief systems and the choices) that is the actual underlying focus.

Another statement made in paragraph one part 1 is:  "And although the subject I will be addressing is quite obvious and known, like many things that are obvious and known, it generally goes unobserved and unrecognized." I consider this statement to still be viable. Everything that has been addressed thus far in this series, even if it might seem new, is nothing new for anyone who has taken the time to read a post or two or even more. However (and this would be my hope), perhaps the experience for you, the reader, has, at times, been somewhat like standing in front of a window and looking out to the view beyond, where just a slight shift in body position can significantly alter the perspective of what's being seen out the window. Ever so often, it's just a slight shift in our point of view and/or focus, that is all that is required to make a world of difference in how we interpret what we're viewing.  And that difference in interpretation can sometimes dramatically change the trajectory of our life's journey.  That noted, it just might be, that if we were to change our point of view from which we view the city of Fort Smith and change what it is we focus our attention on, our interpretation of what we perceive could significantly alter the trajectory of Fort Smith and thereby change the Fort Smith experience.  Whether the altered trajectory would be for the good or for the bad would, of course (as it always does), depend on how we choose to respond to the experience.

At the end of part 2 I had this to say: "This blog is my way of sharing how I finally came to have a viable (for me) understanding of the Fort Smith experience."  Well...that statement still holds.  This series is primarily just my peculiar way of sharing a bit of my Fort Smith experience and commentary with regard to how I understand that experience.  I  have no desire, need or want to convince anyone of anything or incite anyone to do anything other than suspend, for a time, some of their preconceptions, beliefs and conclusions. If you, the reader, are willing to make such a suspension, it is hoped that by doing so, that your mind will recognize that as an invitation to open further so as to allow even more possibilities and probabilities of thought to safely enter.

I do admit, there are things being mentioned, things being pointed to, within the posts of this series, that is only for those who have the ability to hear the melos (the song), in the blank space between the notes and see the meaning, in the blank space between the words.  As I mentioned in part 9, I rely heavily on your ability to extrapolate and willingness to do so. That is as it has to be in this time and space for there are far too many things that I cannot just come right out and openly state within a blog posted on The City Wire.  Even if I did make an attempt to do so, such a blog post would never be approved by TCW, nor should it.

Some say it's better not to disturb a sleeping dog, instead, just let the sleeping dog lie.  The folks from this camp of thought also don't want anyone to rock the boat they're in and they much prefer for others, as well as themselves, to leave, what they interpret to be, 'well enough' alone. Some of these same people many times believe that, by only accentuating the positive, thinking only optimistically (always see the glass as being half full not half empty), by only looking for the best in everything...they can, at the very least, circumvent and escape the negative, and at the very best, totally eradicate the negative from their memory and/or experience. I'm very familiar with this belief system as it's one I used to adhere to myself for quite sometime. And while it's a very good system in many ways (certainly, it's far better for one to look for the best in things, accentuate what's positive and think optimistically about outcomes), it sabotages itself by fooling itself that it can avoid or vanquish the negative without confronting it.  It's basically another version of one keeping their head buried in the sand instead of responding.

So many times with humans, when their choices result in a negative experience, instead of taking the time to really look at what occurred and get it all sorted out, the experience is covered over with some sort of pretense (we can get very creative with this).  While the pretense might help to mitigate the impact as well as help the person to seemingly forget about a negative experience, the experience doesn't go away. It drops down into the unconscious mind where, because it's not being looked at, grows in harmful potential. That, which is in some way considered to be negative, that is not looked at and released, will eventually and inevitably become enormously detrimental to the one choosing not to look. Indeed, something negative going unconfronted will become a person's self installed hidden booby-trap that can be unknowingly triggered and explode into view when least expected  (always seems to happen at the worst possible time). Or, the 'booby-trap' might take a different form such as a steady drip of 'bad luck' that the person is unable to explain or escape from.  Because the so called booby-trap exists in the person's unconsciousness and out of their field of conscious perception, and because they continue to choose to ignore it, not only are they unable to connect any dots that would reveal it was their choices that led to this experience, they don't even see any dots to connect.  The only thing they can do for some relief is blame someone or something as being the cause of the negative circumstances they're experiencing. Of course, this response just perpetuates the adverse condition as it keeps the source of the problem (the person with the problem) continually separated from the solution of the problem (the person with the problem).

Here on the pages of The City Wire, much of what is interpreted, by one or more, to be negative about Fort Smith, most definitely does not go unnoticed.  Much that is negative about this city, many times over, gets thrown onto the table and looked at through comments contributed on these pages.  However, that noted, the 'looking' does not evolve into asking why.  Asking something why it is the way it is will eventually open the door to that secret hallway that leads to the "unseen hand" or "the man behind the curtain."  And, like in the Wizard of Oz, when the curtain is pulled back and the hand pulling the levers is revealed, the mysterious source that has been causing all the difficulty, will instantly become impotent as all its power was both derived from and held in place by the mystery.

Until such a time when the cloak of mystery is pulled  away to reveal the basic "why" that truly explains the condition of Fort Smith being what it is, Fort Smith will continue to exist as an almost city.  An almost city caught in the equilibrium existing between the opposing forces of can and can't. The most likely probability is that the 'cloak of mystery' will endure and maintain its integrity.  The city will probably continue to be split in its response to its declining condition. Part of the city will live in fear of what is to become of it tomorrow, the next year, the next decade while another part will choose to escape into the wanna be fantasy imagined by wishful thinking.  Wishful thinking that  Ad agencies and PR firms can cook up into seductive copy peppered with statistics artfully arranged to impress and entice.  Of course, as a critical component of the promotional package, strategically staged graphic images will give the promise of a tangible experience just like what is being described in the promo. All intended, of course, to lure unsuspecting and gullible visitors into an illusory version of a city that appears to have something going on but, in reality, is stagnating in a mentality petrified by chronic fear and seemingly lost in an eddy of past memories associated with what are recalled as being 'better times.'

It is not likely that Fort Smith will choose to ask "why" it is the way it is and then follow that line of questioning through a gauntlet of possibly deadly ordeals to its source and in so doing free itself to rise like the Phoenix from the ashes.  But, imagine IF...IF, Fort Smith did somehow manage to free itself from its lengthy term of self-imposed imprisonment and then go on to become a thriving, progressive and prosperous city....wouldn't that make a great movie?!  

Five Star: 
Average: 5 (8 votes)

Comments

Flight of the Phoenix

A great story where against all odds the Phoenix rises again and soars above the desert sands and saves all that believed it could be done! Do we have a Jimmy Stewart type leader in our future who will not accept failure and rally the troops to come together and fly like a bird to bring Fort Smith back to greatness?

Fort Smith back to greatness?

I wonder anonYmous, was there ever a time when the common perception of Fort Smith actually had Fort Smith and 'greatness' seen as one and the same or...is that just a case of wishful thinking that eventually became interpreted as being a past truth? As for a Jimmy Stewart type leader existing as a possibility in the future data base of Fort Smith...well, such a leader has certainly been postulated numerous times by many good, frustrated and hopeful citizens of Fort Smith, therefore, I'm sure such a leader exists very solidly as a future possibility. However, the probability of a leader like that actualizing in the present is, IMO, remote at best. But, if the Jimmy Stewart type of leader did arrive on the scene, I suspect that Fort Smith's autoimmune disorder would make quick work of that individual.
I wonder anonYmous, was there ever a time when the common perception of Fort Smith actually had Fort Smith and 'greatness' seen as one and the same or...is that just a case of wishful thinking that eventually became interpreted as being a past truth? As for a Jimmy Stewart type leader existing as a possibility in the future data base of Fort Smith...well, such a leader has certainly been postulated numerous times by many good, frustrated and hopeful citizens of Fort Smith, therefore, I'm sure such a leader exists very solidly as a future possibility. However, the probability of a leader like that actualizing in the present is, IMO, remote at best. ...>> Read the entire comment.

The Best Ever

Over 50 years ago in a far away country, I was having a conversation with an old Army Master Sergeant about where his best duty station was in his career that covered almost 30 years. Without a pause, he said Fort Chaffee and Fort Smith, Arkansas. Of course my next question was why and he responded quickly by saying that "Fort Smith had the most friendly people in the world and there was great entertainment and a little something for everyone". Does Fort Smith quality of life still echo in the minds of people who have visited the city or maybe lived here or have we somehow lost the secret of how to remain that echo in the minds of people that have passed thru our gates?
Over 50 years ago in a far away country, I was having a conversation with an old Army Master Sergeant about where his best duty station was in his career that covered almost 30 years. Without a pause, he said Fort Chaffee and Fort Smith, Arkansas. Of course my next question was why and he responded quickly by saying that "Fort Smith had the most friendly people in the world and there was great entertainment and a little something for everyone". Does Fort Smith quality of life still echo in the minds of people who have visited the city or maybe lived here or have we somehow lost the secret of how to remain that echo in the minds of people that have passed ...>> Read the entire comment.

perspective

Happy, how something is or how something isn't all comes down to one's perspective (interpretation of perception) doesn't it? When an Army Master Sergeant recalls his best duty station as being a base near a city that he interprets has having the most friendly people, great entertainment and a little something for everyone...it makes me curious about his perspective. I would've liked to heard some anecdotes from this person about his time at Fort Chaffee and Fort Smith.

The Old Sarge

The old sergeant had risen to the rank of bird colonel during his combat years of World War 11 and after the war was placed back at his permanent rank of Master Sergeant due to huge cut backs in the military. He talked about Fort Smith like it was a heavenly place because of mild temperatures, great fishing, friendly people, great shopping, low cost of living, great schools, relaxed life style, and a community where everyone was welcome to live their life without a lot of regulations. He appeared to be about 50 years old at the time and must wonder how he would judge his favorite city today fifty years later?

Why

Pilgrim, I really value your insights. I have boiled down your comments to a few lines. "The why truly explains the condition of FS being what it is....an almost city...caught between two opposing forces of can and can't...The city will probably continue to be split...part will live in fear of what is to become of it...while another part will choose escape into...fantasy imagined by wishful thinking...(Fort Smith) is in reality stagnating in a mentality petrified by chronic fear and lost in an eddy of past memories of...better times." I can't wait for you to reveal the man/men behind the curtain. I think he or they are but a fraud and the mentally stagnating chronic fear is entirely self contained the same as the cowardly lion. The city just needs someone to draw back the curtain, Pilgrim?, so we can see the fraud. Will a Jimmy Stewart leader be able to fly the plane? Probably not. I have seen no one with the courage to take the controls. As you pointed out that person would most likely be a victim of not so friendly fire. And that is a tragedy.
Pilgrim, I really value your insights. I have boiled down your comments to a few lines. "The why truly explains the condition of FS being what it is....an almost city...caught between two opposing forces of can and can't...The city will probably continue to be split...part will live in fear of what is to become of it...while another part will choose escape into...fantasy imagined by wishful thinking...(Fort Smith) is in reality stagnating in a mentality petrified by chronic fear and lost in an eddy of past memories of...better times." I can't wait for you to reveal the man/men behind the curtain. I think he or they are but a fraud and the ...>> Read the entire comment.

insight

Observer, it's interesting that you mention 'insights.' It was by in-sight (looking inward) that I was finally able to make some sense of what I was seeming to perceive outward. As my concepts were being reflected back to me via you, Observer, my "inner voice" (that is not really a voice at all) had this to say: There is an earlier beginning...there is more to the story...nothing is what it appears to be...it's not about what you think it's about. When I awoke this morning I glimpsed another layer to this unfolding that I had not seen before (the 'inner voice' was right). As a result, my transitional state of understanding once again transitioned. The "man/men behind the curtain" is not what I was thinking it was. That said, part 12 is on hold for a bit while I sort through this.
Observer, it's interesting that you mention 'insights.' It was by in-sight (looking inward) that I was finally able to make some sense of what I was seeming to perceive outward. As my concepts were being reflected back to me via you, Observer, my "inner voice" (that is not really a voice at all) had this to say: There is an earlier beginning...there is more to the story...nothing is what it appears to be...it's not about what you think it's about. When I awoke this morning I glimpsed another layer to this unfolding that I had not seen before (the 'inner voice' was right). As a result, my transitional state of ...>> Read the entire comment.

Alternative Landing Site

Whoever takes over and switches off the auto-pilot will simply make an emergency landing anywhere but Fort Smith. Maybe they will even ditch land the craft at the Riverfront for symbolism.

Can and Can'ts

Interesting comment Observer! Who are the "can and Can't" people that you mentioned and are you part of the "friendly fire" Group? Its clear that Fort Smith needs many more small business start ups and job creation with a more business friendly city administration so fire away Observer and tell us what you really support. Mr. Swink answered your question on what "business friendly" should be and would really enjoy reading your insight and how to solve some of the cities growth problems. File your flight plan and give us your opinion on what Fort Smith needs for take off!

Cans

You question me about a comment made by Pilgrim in his blog. But the answer is those who are investing their time and money in our community and those in the forefront of building. The names Steve Clark, Richard Griffin and the Westphal family comes to mind. As to the can'ts you guys need but look in the mirror.

Can'ts

Thanks for your reply and explanation but isn't an Observer just someone who observes and comments about the activities of others? Are you being critical of people for just doing what you always do? Just asking if you see your image in the mirror also? Will agree that the Westphal family has done many good projects for the community along with Steve Clark, Mr. Griffin and The City Wire for giving all of us a voice in the community and my hat is also off to any business person that creates jobs and opportunity in the community.

Hats Off

Small business start ups are the key to growth in most communities because small business creates more jobs than all the big corporations combined. People in a community need to shop locally and patronize locally owned businesses because the business owners are the real job creators and my hat is also off in respect to these people that risk their life savings to start their own business.

It's gonna take logic..we're in trouble

At a time when we should back off, it's full speed ahead like nothing's wrong. A direct quote from a business owner..."We could move to NWA where they don't hassle you to death for trying to run a business." It's the Code Ranger ma'am, he's working this area. Someday a tourist might become hopelessly lost, drive by this obscure part of town and see that stack of broken pallets. It would ruin the whole thing for him. He has hit several businesses around here that aren't perfect, one it took me two weeks to find myself. A lot of times it's either accepting less than what you want..or an empty building and less people working. With what we have in the mix and it doesn't look like compromise, I can see more empty buildings for Future Ft Smith.

Bureaucratic Officialism Proliferation

When the officials become more important than the people that generate the cash to pay their salaries, you start to see many empty commercial buildings and if I remember correctly, the Fire Chief himself stated that the Fire Department was a bit over extended because they had to keep a watchful eye on almost 500 empty commercial buildings because the homeless people would take refuse inside during bad weather and sometimes build fires to keep warm. I would rather see a small business start in a empty building with the owner given a time frame to bring the building up to code than the "Code Ranger" harassing the new business owner because of some minor violation. A little common sense and direction in enforcement may be the key.

Selective Enforcement

It happens. If insurance companies are satisfied with the condition of a building enough to insure it, then what's the problem. That's private enterprise. If the city is going to enforce the codes for one, they need to enforce the codes for everyone....or don't bother at all. If it's about safety for firefighters, then the city had better get busy. There are too many old residential properties which are virtual tinderboxes with faulty wiring to spark ignition. It is not about safety though. It's about creating work for crony contractors. But you know what, most contractors are too busy to bother with the little guy. Get a list from the city for who to call, then wait for a response from the contractors. Go on vacation and come back....you might get 1 out of 8 leaving a message. He might give you a bid but will never show-up as long a Chaffee and NWA are busy. Other cities allow owners to do the work until the work passes inspection. Not Fort Smith. You gotta own it and live in it. If you own it but don't live in it, you gotta hire somebody. So tell me, is it less safe or more safe if you live in it. If you don't know what you are doing and the inspector misses something, then it could be less safe in your own home. It ain't like if your house burns down that the city is liable. It's is simply all too arbitrary and inconsistent. How does anybody plan anything? Why should a newcomer, business or resident be compelled to modernized to code overnight when the city has neglected to enforce sufficiently in the past. Who would be liable after all for injuries or destruction of property, the city or the owner? Again, ultimately the code theoretically lessens the odds of danger for fire fighters. But brand new structures are just as susceptible to arson or accidental fire. Gimme a break !!

Specifics

"We could move to NWA where they don't hassle you to death for trying to run a business" -- where does this erroneous idea come from? Fayetteville and Bentonville in particular have very high aesthetic standards enforced by city ordinances, property maintenance codes and a criminal nuisance abatement board. Please provide specific examples of rules that apply only to Fort Smith. To get started, here's a link to Fayetteville's voluminous city code: http://www.accessfayetteville.org/government/city_clerk/city_code/index.cfm

Pigs vs. Hogs

Maybe Fort Smith property owners could clean up without ordinances........Then there'd be no feeding at the municipal trough for bureaucrats.

Give them a code that they can live by..

What we have and have had for years here is a couple of individuals driving around various areas and taking advantage of an anonymous complaint allowance that most likely one of them got worked in when on a committee themselves to begin with. Understandably no one else on the committee even imagined somebody would be this extreme with that kind of power. A particular style of house, a location, something on a route he traverses, a business he doesn't approve of, he can smell something, etc...time to hit #1 on speed dial. This rule desperately needs to be changed due to the one's taking blatant advantage of it and here's a suggestion..one anonymous complaint per RECIPIENT every five years. No regular citizen should have this much power to wreck havoc over others. Why bother to look at the link when how strictly it's enforced is the key? It would be interesting however to see if NWA allows the same degree of underhandedness in their complaint process.

looking in the mirror

If it is true that all doing comes from thinking, that all experience is preceded by choice, that life's experiences are but reflections of what we believe and disbelieve (and if this is not true please explain to me how it isn't)...then we are never not looking in the mirror. However, more often than not, we do not acknowledge, or even recognize, that we're looking in a mirror that is showing us, not only our conscious thoughts, but also our unconscious thoughts, thus, we are continually assigning cause to 'others' for that which is being reflected in a mirror of our own making.

Institutional Control

Waiting for an answer from the observer but my thoughts are that Fort Smith has a city government that has no institutional control and has run amok with city department heads all competing for just a little more control on the power scale. The overall supervision and direction of departments seems to be missing and the City directors are mostly kept in the dark because of the information void. When there is a internal quest for power and authority within a municipal organization with no direction, it could cause excessive rules and regulations to be placed on property and new business that strangle growth. Just my humble opinion on why there is very little business growth other than from big business that has the money and the know how to get the job done and dance around the road blocks placed there by people without real business start knowledge.

Finicky Firepower

When the rules for business success in a community are controlled by an authority with Finicky Firepower then its the governing power that is able to pick the winners and losers in the business world rather then letting the consumer make the choice. The question to be asked is who is more important to a community, the governing body or the people who support the structure and substance of the community by earning wages and paying a fair amount to support government itself? It seems that the communities that achieve success are the ones that are intelligent enough to balance the oversight controls with the needs of the private sector to grow and prosper. Balance is the key and cities and communities that have found that balance seem to be very successful with growth and prosperity and the communities and cities with finicky Firepower seem to struggle in this current economy.

no institutional control

anonYmous, in my not so humble opinion, I think your observation and analysis is spot on! However, that said, in my now humble opinion, we need to look for a deeper cause. The insanity that is strangling rational growth in Fort Smith is pervasive extending well beyond the confines or reach of city government. I believe what is at the root of Fort Smith's "Can't Be, Can't Do and Can't Have, has been extant for a very long while. We keep mistaking symptoms for the cause. Remember, the best place to hide a darkness is in the light. We're looking right at this thing but have not yet seen (recognized) it.