The power of images has been with us since Park Avenue discovered how it can get us to salivate when looking at photos, making us prone to purchase products that appeal to our titillated preferences.
Or our sense of unworthiness. In the '60s, on the Southside of Chicago, were Cadillac billboards with black man escorting platinum blonde damsels, the GM exploited status symbol at the time! In the CNMI, we watch big boys fight over who gets credit for benefits from Obamacare!
Images come in big pictures that provide context for feelings, thoughts, and deeds. The more comprehensive the picture, the broader the parameters of our freedom. I post the image of the blue planet Earth on the back wall of my classroom, calling it my hometown, avoiding being cramped in the confines of nation-state allegiances.
Small pictures at the local level determine personal expenditure. The more detailed the image, the clearer the depth of authenticity and responsibility. Acknowledging myself to be male, on the 5th turn of a 17-year-per-phase journey, irrepressibly fearless of adventure, continually in awe in the awesomeness of human existence, and acting as the perpetually awed one, well, you know how my rhyme goes.
I could not find a clip of the opening scene of the John Travolta movie Look Who’s Talking, where countless sperm race to get into the good graces of a single ovum, but this term I located an actual physiology clip. I show it to my students. I tell them that my father gifted my mother 200 million sperms in a moment of dalliance, one of them getting through the crust of the egg to fertilize what came out to be me.
I do not tire of telling this story (I’ve written about it often in this page). At the moment of conception, I was already a winner in the biggest lottery of my life, and the fact that the ovum was actively involved in choosing who gets into her warmth, I was conceived also in an act of freedom. Free choice and a winner, I am. Then I turn around, point to members of my class, and say, "so are you, and you, and you ..."
Though scientifically accurate, this is pure theatre, though not the gung-ho rah-rah-rah variety. We deliver an image to a throng of young minds whose heretofore context for their individual identity is that they will have to first pass a test to qualify as humans worth of respect and dignity. Or rely on their palms to determine fate and destiny. Baloney, I thunder! Your challenge is to live the winner-ness and freedom you already are, I sanctimoniously intone, and invite them to 16 weeks of Oral English lessons to explore the wonder of it all without needing to apologize for "speaking poor English." ChEnglish is fine, we add.
The wily human factor in life’s existence creates images. Our use of the term "human" does not come from prescribed or ideal definitions. It is simply the recognition and the celebration of just what is. Just as I am without one plea, we sang in our youth.
Religion has been the vehicle for freighting powerful symbols in history, like the crucifix, the empty tomb, the Hindu Om, the star of David, the Taiji (yin-yang), tantric practices, and others.
Unfortunately, religious zeal falls more often on the limits rather than the possibilities of the human spirit. The swastika remains a symbol of Aryan supremacy, Masonry hides behind the veil of esoteric rites and rituals (we were a DeMolay in our youth so we know from whence we speak on this last one). Fundamentalists derive energy in the lucidity of their faith but tend to be exclusive and parochial. Hillary and the United States chant the "We are No. 1" refrain to the world!
We have been actively foisting the image of "glocalization," merging the complimentary polarity of the '70s slogan "to think globally, act locally." The Nihonggo dochakuku, making the global local, was used in the '80s to refer to the manufacture of something locally from a model elsewhere. This was translated into English as "glocal" that started showing up in the Harvard Business Review.
Separately, we started using the term at about the same time but were not too serious about creating a new term until we started writing for this paper. Tired of using quotation marks, we Googled the term, and sure enough, its use was already in vogue among developmental economists.
Glocalization now has its own Wikepedia writeup, but the reality of thinking globally, acting locally remains a rare occurrence. Jingoism stands in the way.
My daughter’s response to an article I forwarded from this page was: Dad, you really are off the grid! Indeed, being glocal means stepping out of the familiar into the cutting edge of what-is-not-yet! Being global in perspective, and local in imperative is, for now, being off the grid.
Pedagogical image-making is our vocation. Humanity created demonic ones. My top 10 list includes: 1) Earth’s indestructibility, 2) democracy’s inevitability, 3) fossil-fuel’s invincibility, 4) benign population growth, 5) primacy of patriarchy, 6) racial supremacy, 7) necessary theocracy, 8) just wars, 9) equitable banking, and 10) tolerated poverty.
Happily, they can be uncreated, off-the-grid!