Telling her story is difficult, both, because it’s a sad story in parts, but also because it is not mine to tell.
And yet it is, because she shared it with me when I was still forming the meat and metal of who I was eventually to become. So now, I feel entitled to tell it, or at least a portion of it, to you. Because to understand anyone, really, is to also understand those that taught them.
Therefore, I speak these words freely in the hope that they help inform the person that you are becoming. After all, we are all forming and reforming the substance of ‘who we are’ with each and every encounter. (May this encounter only bring you blessings of the highest order.)
Anyhoo… on with the story.
(Out of respect, I’ll call her Mrs. B.)
Mrs. B was my English teacher for a couple of literature classes, and one media class, and so, I spent a lot of time with her over my four years of High School. And during those four years, I pieced together a bit about her life through the various stories she’d often lapse into – after a bit of prodding from us students, who were looking to avoid as much of the planned lesson as possible.
First off, I’ll say that at the time I knew her, Mrs. B was a single parent to a college-aged-boy, who was loved - more than life itself. And secondly… I should begin where Mrs. B began, with her teaching career, during the mid-fifties.
Of course, this story… was told only to a select group of learners, and only in a dimly lit class, after a lecture on the female voice in literature, so I ask of you all who read it now to take it in as solemn of nature.
You see, at the tender age of 21, Mrs. B began her teaching career, at night, to a group of adult men who wanted to earn their GED. And what a rowdy bunch she said they were. Hard to get them to settle down, and pay attention, it was. Hard to get them to take anything seriously, she told us.
And it was on her face, from the moment she’d opened her mouth to speak, the visceral pain it all still held for her. Some were several years older than her, and some had criminal records.
But it was just one that held her down and raped her, right there on her desk, after the rest of her students had gone home for the night.
Back then though, things were different, and so the cops were never called. Instead, her pa and her brothers made sure the rapist, a repeat offender as it turns out, was never able to come back to class, or… you know… walk straight again.
But that first year of teaching had changed the woman that sat before us, her face as ashen as the ten-year-old tile told each and every one of us that.
Why does this matter? What pertinence could this have to ‘Integrity & Media Studies’?
Well, everything… as it so happens.
Because it all comes down to a word nobody seems to question, and yet… we all desperately should.
And that word is:
You see, the media has felt entitled to use psychological devises to influence not only you, and your children, and your neighbor, and your doctor, and your lover, but also other nations.
And it all began long before I was even born, and I am certain actual studies will date the actual beginning of this ‘media-influenced-psychological war’ that we are all currently partaking in.
I’m just not going to speculate on any of those details now, as it really isn’t relevant to the points Mrs. B made.
“Bring in a magazine, or ad of some kind tomorrow, that you believe is using subliminal advertising,” the woman with the wild white hair instructed us, always with a great deal of commandment in her voice.
This woman… was not one to be reckoned with. So, that night I paged through one of my mother’s ‘People’ magazines and quickly found an ad for alcohol, that had a semi-naked woman sitting on the edge of a tub, with another naked women subtly in the background. Back then, in the 1980’s… this was a bit more than risqué. It was GAY!
I mean, we couldn’t even stand Ellen DeGeneres back then. Remember? The alcohol company was using the subliminal message of 'taboo sexuality' and the ‘threesome fantasy'… right there... in 'People' magazine. It was plain as day if you really paid attention.
“But who really pays attention?” Mrs. B drilled into us, and not always in the friendliest manner. “And who benefits?”
“The alcohol company,” I told her, and the classroom, quite confidently.
“And?” she prompted from her perch on a stool at the front of the room.
Did I mention that by the time I knew her she was a full-blown hippie? Brilliant, but… a ‘peace-love-and-harmony-woman’ through and through… she was.
So, when she laughed at me it stung, but I also knew she meant it to hit home, so I would never forget.
“Always follow the flow of profit, up the ladder,” she said, prompting me to figure more of it out on my own.
But I just shook my head.
It was then that she placed a flow-chart of ‘Who Owns Who’ up on the overhead projector.
“And remember she said, the flow of profit isn’t always money, it’s back-end deals, and marketing schemes, and the coordinated use of misinformation in order to mold the crowd into the consumers they need. Because this country,” she said, with a raptor like gaze at each of us students, “is built on profit.”
We watched then, over the course of the next semester, all the ways the media was steering our thinking, and always… it seemed to me, and to my friends… ever downwards, towards the lowest form of thinking.
Always… the sexual undertones, the subjection of the feminine, the over-hyped dominance of the white man, the criminalization of the black man. They gave us the lazy Latino, and the brilliant but weak Asians… and on, and on, and on.
And for the past forty years this entitlement the media (and related entities) has assumed has grown - to the point that CNN and FOX out-right lie. And still people believe the next story they tell, and then next, and then next, without question.
I mean, no longer are they even trying to hide the complicities’ - the bricks and fake EMTs.
No, we’ve gone from the subtle innuendos of forbidden sexuality to IN-YOUR-FACE LIES. And most people are shrugging their shoulders like, meh.
Why is integrity not a requirement for news sources?
Or our politicians (ON ALL SIDES)?
Why do we let the worst kinds of people represent family brands?
Where has our moral compass gone?
I can honestly say that I don’t know the answers to any of these questions. Not fully, at any rate.
Only… that I intend to find out.
I also intend to find others with integrity, and probity, and real values, and morals, those with a real North Star…
and I’m going to highlight them here, from now on, as often as I can.
Because it takes people like Mrs. B, who didn’t give up teaching even though someone felt entitled to take the joy of teaching away from her.
Instead, she used that experience as fuel to figure out why…
Why people feel entitled to take what’s not there’s.
And why some freely give their power away.
And more than that… she taught us kids… how to take our power back.
By noticing when we are being played.
By not participating in known cons.
She taught us to always look for the flow of profit, to always keep an eye towards who gains what, and who pays the price.
That’s true empowerment, and that’s how we start taking our lives back.
Say no more to liars.
Say no more to scum.
Say yes to loyalty, honor, duty and valor.
Because our kids are going to need it now…
more than ever!
© Raena Exe 2021
*All rights reserved.
Raena's Wellness Facts:
1. I am healthier and in better shape now, at 48, than when I was at 25.