Sitting at the laptop at 5 AM!
Captain, do we have a problem here?
(... Sometimes you need to just get up, and get back at it! Perhaps a little slow, only two years later)
And so begins my morning.
There is no outline to follow, this at best, will be a rambling of thoughts.
Perhaps to set the tone for this, I will go back to January 4 of 2022. An idea! The title!
The reoccurring thought, "are we capable of saving ourselves from ourselves?"
Are we capable? Yes, but… Why the "but"?
Because I'm going to say what nobody wants to hear. We are capable, but we probably will not. A sad state of existence, the repetition of history. Cycles that never and. Perhaps best showed and brought to light by Plato. From Plato's Republic, "the allegory of the cave".
Without a higher academic background, I simply didn't know any better. I stumbled across this while scrolling YouTube videos with an interest in philosophy. I watched a particular video more than once, and I've shared the link to others many times.
Plato's writings brought into focus many observations over a lifetime. Without the proper terms to describe, I simply remember patterns of behavior. It has been nearly a decade, and things fall into place. There are overlaps, there are alignments, and there are close but not quite. If this sounds like an obscure riddle, I will continue to ramble on. I hope it creates a picture in your mind. To quote someone that I met a decade ago, he said: "I can explain it to you, but I can't understand it for you."
We have an illusion, or should I say delusion. Every one of us has the opinion that we are, in our moment of reality, the epitome of our species. It is simply called EGO. Communities and social groups exist everywhere, and within each, they establish pecking orders of authority and autonomy. A simple quote many times repeated, "people gravitate to their highest level of incompetence". Thus proceeded the Salem Witch Trials. We could create an endless list, the death camps of Nazi Germany. Within a recent recorded history, this perhaps tops the list as the worst.
Can we identify a pattern? Recorded history, predominantly from the conquerors, is the best evidence we have. But I'd like to suggest an underlying thread of continuity. Conquerors? Let's begin there. I have imagined a three-legged stool. Yes, it is stable. The stability is because of geometry. The best, the strongest. The number three. The triangle.
What do we have in common to establish this, Trinity? The first three that come to mind: colonialism, capitalism and Christianity. The common thread of exploitation throughout all continents in recent recorded history. Strong enough to obliterate everything that it touches. A proponent of democracy. Really? Can we suggest that the common thread in this Trinity, which emphasizes the utmost importance of democracy, is in fact a theocracy? And lies the problem. Within theocracy, there can be no democracy. It is authoritarian; it is absolute. Absolute authority rises to position, pushed by the majority. As with any pyramid, it is broader at the base. Therefore, the lowest levels of the social group form the dominant majority, and as a result, they create authority based on emotion. Logic and reasoning played no part in the Salem Witch Trials. Nazi Germany, before the second world war, the leader appeared on the cover of Time magazine. The best example of a socialist regime, "for the people by the people". Everything that followed was democratic and, therefore, declared a legal process.
Repeated pattern appears the leaders are a product of a social process to elevate the most charismatic ego to the highest position of authority. Through this social process, repeated many times, genocide simply becomes a legal process.
Yes, we have a substance problem. The pandemic, thousands of lives lost. The solution? Many are proponents of safe consumption sites. Yes, that would save many. But there is a broader view of our social situation. Perhaps the greatest addictive substance throughout human history has been alcohol. It's legal, we have safe consumption sites. Through the democratic process, people attain what they want.
It's legal, and there are safe consumption sites for alcohol. As a result, we have widespread dysfunction. Within organized sports, recently media brought forth "toxic masculinity". That's nothing new! Perhaps we could just describe it another way? The British would say: "stiff upper lip, my boy." From Victorian times, "the woman's place is in the home". One cornerstone of historical colonial power. A once great empire. How do we make such social control and power? Legalize the substance that facilitates the social cohesion by the obliteration of individual logic and reason. Can we not now view alcohol as a necessary instrument in the establishment of once great financial empires built on rum and slavery? Yes, we had sugar and spices, but rum and slavery were the major driving forces of the economy.
Recent experiences, observations. Here in the local community, a safe consumption site. Occasionally attending a Sunday afternoon music jam, however, the choice is that it doesn't happen often. Why? Sure I could socialize. Just as with the allegory of Plato's cave, here is a social group that would eventually destroy the outsider. "We don't like the way you think." It is simply a matter of time, that human behaviour repeated over and over and over in the social groups everywhere. Yes, a good place, a safe place. Yes, a safe place for toxic masculinity to remain deeply rooted in the community. Many would say this is an unfair assessment. Step back and look around, exposure in the media of toxic behaviours in organized sports. Fees collected used to pay off in silence people with settlements and nondisclosure agreements. During our many hours spent together over the past decade, an acquaintance stated: “over 80% of the women in this community have been victims of abuse.”
Over a lifetime, of a could write thousands and thousands of lines of similar stories to the above paragraph. In a broad context, we simply have social dysfunction, the root causation to be legal in every context. Repetitive cycles. In the past I've stumbled across a statement, "there are over 50 medical conditions in the aging population, a common correlation being alcohol."
Now perhaps, let's say that we had a community along a stream. The community realized they had a high percentage of their community with a common medical condition. Probable causation, correlation, could it be something in the water? To establish beyond a reasonable doubt that the common thread is the water source, the community would investigate upstream to find the source of the contaminant. Everyone would agree! It's logical, it's reasonable, it's rational. Find the source of the problem and fix it.
But we don't! We have the knowledge, we have the understanding; we have the correlation. The most destructive substance on the face of the planet for our species has been alcohol. Our current social and economic structures of the "Western way of life" depend on the revenue stream. The two most common legal substances, alcohol and tobacco, are the cornerstones of gambling, health and pharmaceutical, general consumerism. The substance cravings interrupt, or have completely replaced, reason and logic, thus to highjack individual's ability of "long-term" goals and planning.
Yes, there has been some measure of achievement. People have socially accepted and recognized "Mothers Against Drunk Driving", MADD. As a society, we simply refused to go upstream and find the source and put a stop to the carnage. The business of medicine and psychiatry will never put itself out of business, a revolving turnstile of never ending clients. A pandemic of dysfunction where we know the cause, but we are helpless to do anything about it. "The court of public opinion", maintains the legality of causation, regardless of the continued escalating financial costs, fighting fires of social dysfunction. Protect the institution's fine name, "suck it up", and drag it out through the courts for decades. Pay out millions, and established more nondisclosure agreements. Sweep it under the rug, and bury it.
From the time I finished high school, for many years, I tried to get my mother to quit smoking. It never happened! Her words: "it's the only thing I enjoy". Well, it wasn't the smoking. She enjoyed her daily living of being a little tipsy. Sometimes to the point of slurring her words, but usually just a consistent "happy state". It was because of the alcohol that her liver finally caused her demise. She could have easily had at least another 20 years. For both my parents, this was the only daily existence they have a knew.
So what after two years prompted a 5 AM start? Perhaps everything begins with a heightened state of emotion. As long as things are going smoothly, there is no reason to change anything. It's just continuing with the usual. Well, perhaps a week ago, there was a conversation that was simply tuned acceptance of into daily reality and existence. Shared circumstances, just the way it is. Shared emotion and understanding. A few days later, went to an event, the passing of an acquaintance, someone I knew almost nothing about. On the way, I thought dropping in and picking up a sympathy card for the family was the right thing to do. I found the most fitting card for the circumstance, but I walked around the display. Oh yes, those February 14 cards. It is that time of year, isn't it! Well, I had a weak moment, and it didn't take long to find a card that "hit the nail on the head"! All about silliness, laughter and joking. How fitting, I thought. Pick the card up, "this is perfect". To some degree of perfection, all emotions are under control. Not so fast! Made it two-thirds the way to the checkout, and stopped. We went back a few steps, stopped and turned around and proceeded to the checkout again. Will this isn't going well! Probably at the third moment of indecision, I returned and put the card back in the display. Now, many days later, I'm up at 5 AM pouring out some thoughts. I need to get up and write about this, but I need to embed it further down in the paragraphs. So I guess I'm just talking to myself, but others reading this may relate and understand. A couple of days of past and I realized the indecision returning the card to the display was the right thing to do. I realize now in another newer conversation, the person who triggered my emotion a week ago is not this person of today. And therefore, by returning the card to the display, I did the right thing.
In all of us there are moments of reality, but predominantly moments of a perceived reality. Today's society perhaps requires that we all wear masks to protect our true selves from the toxicity and dysfunction so commonplace around us.
"Can we save ourselves from ourselves"? But some would say, why would we want to? What is the point?
To be continued.