The dominant (by far – not even a close second) culture of Fort Smith is a fear based culture i.e., the fort/fear mentality/mindset. The dominant culture of Fort Smith is its psychosis and while it is readily observed, it is not readily recognized or acknowledged for being what it is.
Fear, as has been previously mentioned, does not unify; it fragments, separates and divides. In a fear based culture…lies, secrecy and conspiracy thrive and are considered to be standard operating procedure (SOP). Fear at its best is suspicious and at its worst vicious. Fear does not embrace, it rejects. It is not open, it is closed. There is no trust in fear but there is always betrayal of trust misplaced. This is how the dominant identity/personality of Fort Smith (its BE) appears. And its behavior as a city, both in the subtleties and extremes, reflects its fear identity.
On previous installments I have posed variations of the question…"What is it that the city of Fort Smith is so desperately trying not to lose?" As of yet there has been no one that has offered an answer to this question. Perhaps, though, you have answered it for yourself. But, rather than than make a public utterance, chose to keep your answer to yourself. In any case, I'm going to go ahead and offer you the answer that, for me, keeps coming up as the answer. That answer: control. The city of Fort Smith is desperately trying not to lose control. Control of what? Control of the status quo; the way things have always been, and how the lion's share of the citizens of Fort Smith, truly believe they want them to stay.
I feel that It is an error of some magnitude to think that the various administrative agencies of the city are the ones actually controlling the city and keeping the controls of the city tightly in place. The controlling force of the city originates, not from the agencies, but from the populace of the city (that portion of the city population that lives in fear). The administrative agencies of the city are but an extension of the dominating populace and these agencies reflect the fort/fear (psychosis) mindset of this populace. The extant agencies were born out of this mindset and are continually empowered and kept in place by this mindset in order to protect it from all its imagined fears.
There exists a hierarchy of fear where, like in most hierarchies, any given level has dominance over the levels existing beneath it and will often times (in the case of fear – always) prey upon those lower levels than itself and therefore subservient to it. At the top level of the fear hierarchy that exists in Fort Smith, there are a select few that are enormously adept and adroit in manipulating all levels of fear beneath them (the bulk of the city population) in all manner of ways, both overt and covert, so as to serve the interests of the select few at the top. Because the dominant culture of the city is a fear based culture, the "select few" that are at the top of the fear hierarchy, have complete run of the city and are free (there's no person or group that can effectively resist or better them) to exploit all the resources of the city as they see fit and when they see fit.
For numerous reasons, It is inevitable that the city of Fort Smith will continue to grow, however, rest assured, that as the city grows the 'select few,' operating at the top of the fear hierarchy, will do whatever it takes (they have the complete fear hierarchy at their disposal) to ensure that business as usual in Fort Smith stays business as usual. In other words, they stay in control at all times.
If an idea emerges on the scene that is perceived to pose any threat to the status quo, that idea, and the one or the group originating that idea will, in one way or another, be terminated (all the wind will be quickly taken out of their sail). The more threatening the idea is imagined to be, the more vicious the means will be that are used to stop it. Essentially, this is the city's default auto-immune system disorder at work (at work throughout the entire fear hierarchy). Because this auto immune system disorder is the default system of a fear culture, it can be used as a reliable index to how potentially good, viable, and sane a particular idea is for the city. The better the idea is for the city the greater threat it will be interpreted to be (a real threat to control) and the more forceful will be the resistance that is used to halt any forwarding of the idea. Of course, this same index can be used to identify what ideas are perceived as being safe to the fear hierarchy (no threat to their control) as they are the ideas that move forward and become manifest without any genuine resistance.
Soon after I moved back to Fort Smith I met a gentleman that had, because of his work, moved to Fort Smith and had now been a resident of the city for a few years. This man most definitely did not have a fort/fear mindset but he told me about his incredibly memorable run in with it.
Because of his position in his work this man had access to some of the movers and shakers of Fort Smith and he had a few good ideas to share with them. The response he received from the folks he presented his ideas to was refreshingly favorable and supportive. Eventually, one of his ideas, with the help from his new collaborators, became manifest and went into operation. The management of this operation was delegated to a particular administrative agency of the city. The idea for this operation was envisioned, intended and designed to fill an obvious community need and be of assistance to those individuals in the city requiring this particular kind of service. However, what happened, under the control of those managing it, was disastrous. The agency administering the operation turned it into a bait and switch operation where what appeared, on the outside, to be help was actually, at its core, abusive.
Obviously, this man's idea was perceived as a threat by the fear hierarchy and it was sadistically terminated. Of course, this experience was a severe reality adjustment for this man. It was an enormous betrayal of trust. His conclusion was that if the culture of Fort Smith was ever going to change, it would take many generations to do so.