|Sculptor George Segal and his sculpture in memory of students slain and wounded at Kent State by Ohio National Guardsmen, entitled: In Memory of May 4, 1970: Kent State-Abraham and Isaac.
What is needed today, yet remains as elusive as time itself?
Every day, in the era of Trump, we struggle between virulent ideology and uncommon sense. Each day brings more deaths due to incompetence and one of mankind's most often sounded ideological excuses for inhumanity, "...it's us vs. them".
It has been 50 years since Ohio National Guardsmen murdered four and wounded nine unarmed students on the campus of Kent State University. Please go here for the story: When Demagogues & Incompetence Rule Innocents Die.
It is 50 years later, and we are still sacrificing our children to the god of "us vs. them" as John "Derf" Backderf's recent graphic novel, Kent State: Four Dead in Ohio, depicts.*
|Art credit: One page from Derf Backderf's book*. See Publisher's Weekly review here: Four Dead in Ohio: Derf Backderf On Kent State, Rob Kirby, 4 Feb 2020.
Back then, we were a nation deliberately manipulate and divided by politicians wielding their “us vs. them” weapon. The war in Vietnam had gone on for years well before Nixon’s extension into Cambodia. It was that “illegal” addition to the American blunder in Southeast Asia that led to student protests throughout the nation, including Kent State.
Protesting for an end to the war was conflated by the Nixon administration and Republican Party supporters as an attack on the ‘Silent Majority”, the “blue- and white-collar workers the "Forgotten Man of American politics" and on Americanism, the mainstream “us vs. them” philosophy of the time.
Sounds markedly like, Make America Great Again, does it not? That is because it is. It is just recycled “us vs. them”.
KSU "closure" will finally begin when, together, the student body, the Kent State University administration, the State of Ohio and the people of Kent, Ohio, bring back to campus George Segal’s statue, In Memory of May 4, 1970: Kent State - Abraham and Isaac.
Segal was commissioned in 1977 by KSU to create a memorial statue honoring the 4 May 1970 tragedy. But, in 1979, his work was refused by KSU administration as "too violent".
KSU needs to hold the memorial statue's dedication ceremony along with a Native American smudging or “cleansing”. Both of which should have been done back in 1979. It would be a major step forward for KSU, Ohio, the United States and humanity. It will help us confront one of our deepest, darkest truths: our national willingness to sacrifice our youth. When we do, perhaps, we will free ourselves of that terrible, haunting demon.
Segal’s, In Memory of May 4, 1970: Kent State - Abraham and Isaac can be found displayed outside of the Princeton University Chapel. This description is attached to it:
The artist depicts contemporary versions of Abraham and Isaac in an allegory for the May 4, 1970, tragedy at Kent State University. A poignant visualization of humankind's struggle between ideology and paternal love, it mirrors the conflict that led to the death of four students at the hands of the Ohio National Guard. Though Abraham looks poised to strike his son, the artist emphasized that Genesis 22 ends without tragedy, as Isaac is spared.
I hope that it works out that way for us today, the Genesis 22 way, and we spare our children the inevitable tragic outcome of a USA once again driven by "us vs. them".
Until then, I will be looking for the KSU – our USA - smudging ceremony, offering this prayer:
Native American Smudging Prayer
May your hands be cleansed
that they create beautiful things
May your feet be cleansed
that they take you where
you most need to be
May your heart be cleansed
that you may hear
its message clearly
May your throat be cleansed
that you might speak rightly
when words are needed
May your eyes be cleanse
that you might see the signs
and wonders of this world
May (we) and (this) space
be washed clean by the some
of these fragrant plants
And may this same smoke
carry your prayers to
the spiraling heavens
*WKSU, Kent State’s public radio station, is doing good work. This programming is an excellent step forward.