"What we see depends mainly on what we look for." Ain't that the truth!
When I moved back to Fort Smith (now over ten years ago) I was perceiving it through and assembly of filters that I had acquired experientially in the thirty-two years that I had been away. My first evaluations of the city were quite skewed because of what I was desiring, wanting and expecting to see. While I superimposed my desires and wants over the Fort Smith I was observing, I, of course, saw what I wanted to see. For a time I became fixated in the ever so thin social veneer of the city and was mistakenly interpreting that as being the true identity of the city.
I did not bust through Fort Smith's social veneer abruptly. Instead, the more I had cause to interact with the city, the more I slowly pressed against its veneer and...like one continually pushing their hand against plastic wrap stretched tightly over a bowl of left overs and the plastic finally gives way and tears, so too did the thin veneer of Fort Smith eventually give way as I kept pressing against it. Once through the mild and seemingly friendly veneer I began to see a city that was in stark contrast to my envisioned desires and expectations.
After my bubble of wishful thinking had popped, the next hurdle I had to overcome was my own hubris. As I began to get a sense of the city's true condition (or what I perceived and interpreted to be its condition), that is; a condition seemingly antipathetic to anything that might possibly elevate the quality of life in Fort Smith and thereby cause the city to be more alluring to the outside world...I felt I could do something to change that and make a positive difference. I decided that if I was going to reside in Fort Smith that, rather than become an armchair critic, I was going to get involved and do what I could to, in some way, better the condition (better my experience). Well...with that decision I found and entered a classroom that was more like a sadistic boot camp than not. What I learned after spending a few years in this classroom is that I didn't know diddly squat about what I thought I knew. In other words, Fort Smith kicked my ass and good! But, in the beating I took, the city did me a great service because that's exactly what I needed. It woke me up to my own pretense, my own social veneer. Hubris, I discovered, is just another form of wishful thinking.
As I have observed and interacted with the city in the time I've been living here, the presence of an "unseen hand"..."man behind the curtain"...."kingpin"..."Mr. Big"...."Big Fish in small pond" and so on (however you want to symbolize this source of unseen suppression), has been unmistakable. At every turn, in every project it has been obvious that someone or some select few have been tenaciously holding the city back, holding it down and keeping it in a perpetual condition of almost. For example: Fort Smith almost has a beautiful Historic District except that it's dominated by slum lords and many of the once beautiful and impressive examples of architecture are in a state of sever disrepair; Fort Smith almost has a US Marshals Museum except that it has funding problems that could delay its manifestation indefinitely; Fort Smith almost has a thriving vibrant downtown except it doesn't; Fort Smith almost has a developed riverfront except that development just exists as wishful thinking; Fort Smith almost has a water park except the project lacks probity; Fort Smith almost has, or almost had...(please feel free to add to the list). I say 'almost had' because it is evident that this "almost condition" that Fort Smith demonstrates is a condition of long duration. I'm sure there have been many "almost" plans and projects that have come and gone over the years.
Even though my personal observations and experiences have continually pointed to the existence of an active "Mr. Big" (an entity hidden behind the curtain pulling all the strings of the city) being in full control of the city, the realization that the city has been in an "almost condition" for a long duration, suggests that there is more to the story. Also, the fact that there are so many folks who adamantly claim that the city is under the control of a hidden or, not so hidden few (many people have names of people, families, companies or organizations that they "know" to be the so called "unseen hand"), yet the condition continues to persist (if it's so well known why hasn't someone, over the many years, done something to put an end to it?), indicates that whoever the "unseen hand" is...that identity, or the folklore of such an identity, is being empowered by the very people making the claims.
I'm not saying that there isn't some "Kingpin" running the city of Fort Smith, indeed, I suspect that circumstance is highly probable. It's also highly probable that the notion is illusory. I suspect even more that there have been circumstances (belief systems) extant in Fort Smith that have predisposed the city to being a "natural" cover for sinister activities to be conducted that have nothing at all to do with the city. In other words, the city is being used as the hiding place for these activities. In which case, it would serve those activities, for the idea of a Kingpin running the city (whether true or illusory) to be perpetuated. But again, going beyond the notion of a Kingpin, there seems to be an inherent condition that exists in the unconscious realms of Fort Smith's collective mind. And this condition (a program running beneath the awareness level), is the actual "unseen hand" not a person, family, company or organization but an unseen belief system. This unseen belief system has aberrated in such a way as to make Fort Smith a unique hiding place for certain nefarious activities. A hiding place with its own built in defense system.
"What we see depends mainly on what we look for."
Up until quite recently I saw the city of Fort Smith as a city struggling like the dickens to get out from under a heavy hand of suppression. And, as hard as it struggles, as earnest as it is in its efforts...it continues to come up losing. No matter what it tries the Can of Fort Smith is consistently unable to overcome the Can't of Fort Smith. In other words, I saw Fort Smith as being a city that is under constant attack from within. Then, one early morning as my consciousness was returning from the dimension we know as "dreams" and readjusting to the dimension of wakefulness that we know as "reality," (I wonder sometimes if there really is a difference) I had this "what if moment." What if Fort Smith is not being attacked but is, instead, defending itself? Did you read my little story in part 14 (a) about "protecting" the chicken to death. Could be that Fort Smith is actually "defending" itself to death but doing so unconsciously.
As the old adage says....if it were a snake it would've bitten me. How could I miss something so obvious!? The most obvious clue as to what Fort Smith is being and why it behaves the way it does is its name! Fort Smith..."Fort"...what is a fort? What is the purpose and function of a fort? What was the original purpose and function of Fort Smith? It may sound preposterous but I suspect that Fort Smith is still very much Being, Doing and Having as an active fort and it has absolutely no awareness of it. Also, besides the "fort" program running unconsciously, it has become aberrated. In other words, it has become a psychological disorder within the collective mind of Fort Smith. Yes, it might very well be an absurd theory but absurd or not, I think it's a theory worth exploring. In part 15 (f) we'll do some exploring.