Coates wrote in the earlier memoir. “All the great wars had been fought, and I was left to rummage through the myths of my fathers.” Coates has found his new wars, mainly by realizing that the old ones never really went away. And now “Between the World and Me” seeks to impart that consciousness not just to his son but to all of us.
The people are the slaves of Life, and it is slavery which fills their days with misery and distress, and floods their night with tears and anguish…I have followed man from Babylon to Cairo, and from Ain Dour to Baghdad, and observed the marks of his chains on the sand. I heard the sad echoes of the fickle ages… she is an everlasting ailment bequeathed by each generation unto its successor. I found the blind slavery, which ties the people’s present with their parents past, and urges them to yield to their traditions and customs, placing ancient spirits in the new bodies.
"The potency of myth is that it allows us to make sense of mayhem and violent death. It gives a justification to what is often nothing more than gross human cruelty and stupidity. It allows us to believe we have achieved our place in human society because of a long chain of heroic endeavors, rather than accept the sad reality that we stumble along a dimly lit corridor of disasters. It disguises our powerlessness.”
― Chris Hedges, War Is a Force that Gives Us Meaning