I had the honor and the pleasure of listening to Russell Brand and Cornel West in a Youtube video titled, “Neoliberalism is Dying.” Several weeks ago, I made a comment on Russell Brand’s Youtube page. He asked the question: “Who would you like to see as a guest on the show?” I suggested that he bring on Cornell West because for some reason when I listen to both of these men, I am inspired by their honesty and authenticity. In and effort not of my own, I too am headed on a journey seeking truth. It sounds so simple, but in reality, truth is often hidden. One often has to dig deep in the mire of what we believe to be truth to find it. I started on this journey by journaling my feelings and thoughts after reading scriptures. This process was suggested to me by my counselor a few years ago. For the most part the journey was individualistic, I have found prayer to be an essential component. While in prayer, I have been able to be more in tune with the voice of God, as well as my inner thoughts and feelings. While I highly suggest this protocol for anyone else embarking on a similar path, I would make one suggestion: stay open to the opportunities for collaboration, even with those who may not hold your same ideas.
Russell Brand’s interview with Cornel West was eye opening and enlightening. For the first time in a while, I felt warm and understood. These men speak to audiences who may have opposite views of the world, but they were able to agree on some key issues. We are all our mother’s children. This is a thought that humbles all of us. As much as we may think that we have arrived, we all came into this world the same way, through the womb. We are products of our environment, cultures, and social class. We must acknowledge and live with the building blocks that make us who we are. In an attempt to move on from our past, we must accept our building blocks as the uniqueness that shapes us. Although we have various colored and shaped blocks, we should have the ability to find commonality and communication across the aisle. The second idea that I agree with is the concept of spirituality across religions which have the capacity to build moral structures. This idea encompasses the notion that there is something deeper. As Cornel West states, “Look at the eyes of your daughter.” We want to make this world better because of our children. This notion, he states cuts across race, gender, and religion. Russell Brand humbly and venerably admitted to the sense of fear and selfishness that we all face. He believes that the love breaks the back of fear, allowing all of us to unite and agree upon what really matters.
I agree with Cornel West that as Christians, we do not have a monopoly on all that is good and beautiful. Russell coined this as a puritanical view of Christianity. Sterile perspectives that keep us from being able to understand each other are often inflexible and unrelenting, no matter what the religion or creed, creating a vast ocean of separation. In my opinion, this is hopefully where we are moving from currently. In the meantime, some of the structures and supports that have been created to make a better society have in certain instances have started to work against us. There is a need for redemption and unification, not at the surface level, not multiculturalism, but a sense of a spiritual, moral, and human connection. Instead, what we are witnessing is finger pointing and fault finding. For the most part, we want the same thing. We want a sense of belonging, we want to be safe, none of us wants to live in abject poverty. Do we have the ability as a society to put down our selfishness, our fear, our hatred, our inflexibility to make this world the best world that it can be not just for ourselves, but for those who will come after us?
Russell Brand introduces the idea of a celebration of idiocy where nothing means anything. Cornel West further expounds on a society of people with cold hearts, chilly souls, and numbed minds. Which leads us to the concept of materialism. We are part of this material world with certain needs and desires. The question is how much does materialism take the place of the spiritual? Depending on your beliefs, the definition of the spiritual may differ. Cornel explains the spiritual as the songs that he heard at Shiloh. Some may say that their connection to the spiritual is meditation, or a walk in the park. No matter how you may define your own spiritual quest, the connections are rarely ever found in the superficial. Cornel highlights the difference between professional managerial knowledge vs. the wisdom of everyday people. Older black folks used to call this mother wit. There is a dire need for a sense of integrity in all walks of life. “We must have a moral critique that pierces through our tribalism,” states West.
Cornel states, “We must learn how to die daily.” We are going to make mistakes; we are going to fall down. Russell asked the question, what happens when we err? West states, “We don’t want paralysis, but we do need analysis.” None of us have arrived, but there is no need to wallow in sorrow when we make mistakes. I found myself in this state at one point. I find it comforting to understand that when I feel marginalized or broken, I have a mediator in Jesus who I can run to and ask for forgiveness. It is imperative that we remain steadfast in our approach to analyzing our own behaviors while moving forward in humility, hope, and love. Brand stated that we must, “…seek the truth in love.” The conversation was deep, compelling, and transformative. I hope to witness more conversations such as this, I hope that more men and women will bear their souls and break down the walls that divide us all. Perhaps we can use this conversation as a model.