Up@dawn 2.0

Monday, June 12, 2017

Week one comment 2 June 12, 2017 - Don

Week one comment 2 June 12, 2017
Yesterday, I had the got fortune to enjoy and learn from Vega’s play, Liquor, Religion, and Slavery. It was a drama that combined both an external conflict between African-Americans in Memphis and the local police, and an internal conflict for an individual caught between the allure of money and poverty of principles. I won’t spoil his play in case you have a chance to watch it, but I’ll offer an analogous plot and see how you would respond.
Imagine that you are a new writer and you have just completed your first book. It’s a little salacious, thirty shades of red with some language which is tantalizingly close to vulgar. It’s become an overnight success and you have publishers offering to pay you a $2 million advance for your next book as long as it is written about similar material. While you are waiting to sign the contract, and basking in the publicity and imaging what new tools you are going to buy, you learn about a manufacturing plant in the city of the publisher has been polluting the local communities water. You join the protest and the next day, your picture is on the front page, you’re a celebrity, but the publisher notifies you that the publishing company is also owned by the manufacturer and if you want that $2 million dollars plus more to come with future books, you need to stick to the writing business and drop out of the protesting business. They tell you that you don’t need to worry, because with the money you make, you can move to a better area. You’re reminded that if you don’t sign the contract, you’ll be blacklisted by other publishing companies and you’ll wind up drinking the polluted water. You have a sick mother, a wife, and six children to support. Your brother and his wife have both lost their jobs and have not been able to find one.

Would you sign the contract? Imagine if you had been living in Detroit or Flint Michigan these last twenty years. Imagine if you were one of the screenwriters/actors who were blacklisted during the McCarthy hearings. Let the reality weigh on your mind as you make your case.


  1. That was a great example with the publishing company and the writer. Often times we as humans find ourselves in internal conflicts where we are forced to decide between doing what's right for ourselves and those closest to us, or whether we decide to do what's right for the greater good and help humanity, even if that means that we suffer personally. The battle that many face is that they feel as though, even if they do the "right" thing then the corporation (the government, the man, the system, etc.) will still win in the end, and so it seems pointless for them to suffer along with everyone else. The entrepreneur/rapper Jay-Z has a line in one of his songs where he says, "I can't help the poor if I'm one of them, so I got rich and gave back to me, that's the win-win". I think sometimes in those lose-lose scenarios like the one described above, it may actually make sense to take the $2 million dollar deal and use it to help people relocate from the neighborhood, or hire lobbyist for political and legal changes to the plant. It's a very difficult situation and tugs at the souls of men.

  2. Anonymous8:49 PM CDT

    wow that is a great post.The dilemma is a tough decision. If you sign and take the $2 million you would be going against morals and not helping your community. If you do not take it you are still poor but you are doing the right thing? Maybe Vega is right you can take the $2 million and help the community later, but if it were me I would turn the money down flat. Your home is your home and if this publisher is distributing tainted water he needs to be stopped bottom line. Your morals are your morals it makes you a person . No human should ever be denied fresh water or food no one!so no amount of money can buy me off to help contribute to a right for everyone to drink safe water. It is dispicable what happened in Flint, MI. The guy that caused that should be in jail end of story and the government should get their water clean as soon as possible no excuses. i do not care if you live in Iran , America or Africa. No one should ever as in all nations creeds races religions etc.. be denied fresh food and water. Cannot be bought off, will not stand for it!

  3. There is no easy decision here. There is only the decision that you can live with on a daily basis. Too often, people want to know how a person will carry the weight of a decision, especially if it differs from how they would care it. In this case, I would not think to long about this decision. I would adopt the ancient philosophy of "flip-ism" and let fate decide my fate. For if I am to be damned either way, then I will trust in fate.

  4. "I'm not a bad guy but I do bad things..." What would a pragmatist say? Or an existentialist? Well, whatever they'd say it's still on each of us to DO, and if we're not the sum of our acts I don't know what we are (besides very good rationalizers of self-serving acts). Anyway... Vega's a very talented guy. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MSejtLO78XY