Monday, September 6, 2021

A Common Thread

Many months have slipped by since my last published article. I can assure you, the mind has been fully engaged over these past months. "Overthinking everything", it's simply my NORMAL!

There's been a complete disruption over the past 18 months of the daily flow of people's lives, touching every continent, culture and community. The flu epidemic of 1918 endured for three years. Despite our current technical knowledge, tremendous biological understanding achieved, there is no definite end date insight.

Daily news events reveal social unrest in every corner of societies. In nearly all social groups, regardless of geographical location, populism understanding has been pushed past the breaking point. Outbursts and tempers circulate social media. This heightened awareness travels around the globe, fuelling more of the same behaviour.

What is the common thread? This global phenomena is simply a frenzy of emotion. Emotion driven by fear. Fear that the familiar social world of their daily lives has been forever changed. The populism view that unknown forces or agendas are the root cause. No amount of data or facts will sway the populist view. "A mob mentality / the Salem Witch Trials."

Can we alter the populist direction? My initial response is an unequivocal NO. Why? As a species, we share many traits that can be commonly observed in other species. "house-trained", the commonly understood social conditioning after bringing a pet to be a new member of the family. There are those in society that will spend thousands of dollars on a new puppy sending it to obedience school. Some members of our society spare no expense through private schools and individual tutoring for their own children at the earliest age of intervention. Conformity and predictable responses is the end goal. This is easily observable in the social structures of the elite in society. Perhaps it is not so easy to observe in the general population. Perhaps we cannot see the forest for the trees. In the general population, populism is the "order of the day". The hereditary biased perceptions of reality. Shaped by ethnic and cultural boundaries. What is observable across these ethnic and cultural boundaries through social media are the outbursts of emotion displayed. Common language and direct communication is not required. Simply the observance of others pushed past the breaking point. The "breaking point" need only be observed. Thus, a common thread of social unrest spreads. Individual out-of-control emotion seeks a quick fix. Populism is determined to solve the problem by the most expedient means available.

Many today are aware of the term "hyperactive". Over the past two decades or more, ADHD in our educational systems has been treated with prescription drugs. I stumbled across a crumb of information some months ago. Perhaps it could lead to some understanding and conclusions regarding educational systems needing to deal with behavioural problems of students. It goes: among North American baby boomers, perhaps 40% could be undiagnosed fetal alcohol syndrome. Our school system, therefore, has been burdened with the children and grandchildren growing up in households where fetal alcohol syndrome has been present. Now unravel the social unrest, the social predicament called populism around us. There is another twist to add to our social behavioural fabric. The spread throughout the fifties and sixties. I'm speaking of "Billy Graham" events drawing crowds everywhere. Subtly below the surface, travelling in the same social circles, the establishment of Alcoholics Anonymous groups. Here, the common thread has a slight diversion, however, a common general direction. The Billy Graham events drew people in by the thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands. The early beginnings of what we commonly observe as the "evangelical Christian movement". The other path, as social construct, a place of eventual belonging, by many that did not embrace the Billy Graham rallies. These individuals in society rebelled against conformity, eventually succumbing to self-medication. We commonly understand today that there are over 50 vital organ conditions which develop in senior years, which are directly because of alcohol consumption. The convergence of those with failing health, with the groups of faith-based newly formed alcoholics anonymous groups begins. Through social pressure, afflicted individuals are coerced to join these groups or succumb to being further social outcasts in the community. These AA groups have flourished for many decades. "The acceptance of a power greater than yourself, because you have come to the understanding that you can no longer manage your personal daily life." Many will attest, "I'm not religious, I'm spiritual." "Belonging to an AA group saved my life." It then comes to pass that during the decades of a seniors experience, there is a common ground, "a populism". A "common ground" solidified by personal experiences, and therefore immovable. No amount of logic or reason can dislodge these personal opinions from their own experienced and observed reality.

Mental health. What? What is it?

A sense of well-being. Comfortable in your surroundings.

The foundation of mental health, the amount of dopamine released into the bloodstream. If the levels of dopamine are low, perhaps you are depressed. If the levels of dopamine are too high, perhaps you are hyperactive or ADHD. Somewhere in there, we must attain a balance. There is another chemical released into our bloodstream. Adrenaline is released because of hyper or extreme emotion. These extreme emotions encompass all of our human states. From extreme fear to extreme attraction. These two chemicals are directly responsible for our mental health and our mood swings, in some, which can be excessive. The vast expanse of our social community construct of dysfunction on so many levels, no one knows where to resolve the situation.

That which is acceptable in one's social circle is perhaps deeply offensive to those in another. As history has shown us, these incompatible social circles bonded against "common foe" during the first and second world wars. In a time of extreme threat, a common goal was pursued. Perhaps this is why there has been a common thread in our Western-based societies that in social circles: "do not discuss politics or religion." There is no better common ground for this to be shown than in the establishment of Legion chapters. Military veterans gather to celebrate and reminisce. To relive the "us against them", good and evil. 
These groups exist on both sides of the conflict.

Continuing the common thread. Adrenaline and dopamine, responsible for our mood swings, and therefore our perceived mental health. There is a more sinister and underlying causation for these two chemical releases. Individual comfort or stress precipitates from a general understanding of our surroundings. If you are inquisitive by nature, this will immediately fall into place. If you need verification and acceptance, depending on your social surroundings, your future general knowledge can be severely compromised.

In the first instance, the inquisitive individual is capable of self-regulation of dopamine because of their own internal self reward because of learning and achievement. Once this lifelong cycle is started, it would commonly become a lifelong pursuit of knowledge. This is a lonely road, filled with social rejection. This path has the high probability of never belonging to populism of the time. Commonly labelled "the know it all", "over thinker". Populism finds these individuals the most antagonistic and disruptive people, simply because of what they know. It has been my conclusion that sharing of knowledge and experience does not require the insertion of authority or ego. Because this is a lonely road, isolation can lead to periods of depression caused by rejection. It was once stated by one of the ancient philosophers, "the greatest weapon is rejection." If on this lonely road, the cycles of depression cannot be self understood, then self-medication may overtake the moment. Once derailed by self-medication through substance abuse, many times leads to the downward spiral which never recovers.

The second instance, the individual that requires a sense of belonging. Perhaps from the earliest age possible immersed in a sport, probably a team sport. From this earliest age, the natural development of "inquisitive nature" has been diverted. A sense of well-being derived from closely managed and directed activities. Group activities that encourage the development of ego. In this social circle, the greater the conformity, the greater the stroking of ego, the higher the dopamine levels. In this case, individual self identity is shaped by the group through behavioural practices. The perfection of power and control elevates the individual status. Elevated individual status continues to be rewarded, and therefore, a vicious cycle of ego is developed. There is no foundation established regarding the natural world, which can be the personal arsenal of survival skills. It's all about populism and dominance. Self-medication and substance abuse is widely acceptable within these social circles, because "everyone knows" there will be a premature ending. Sports celebrities, entertainment celebrities, all examples of glamour and glitter, overindulgence.

This is the price paid to forgo naturally inquisitive nature. These paths are hereditary. Children and grandchildren following in the footsteps of many celebrities. Substance abuse and addictions abound. Some partially recover partway through their lives and turn to evangelical Christian movements as a means to sustain a meaningful nondestructive future.

I would summarize by saying that we have two choices. Allow the natural development of the individual, or impose a hereditary path. I would compare this to buying a computer with a predetermined "operating system". The hereditary preloaded operating system contains much self-indulgence which would inhibit any alteration to its future path. It is a path where the development in real time of "critical thinking" has already been sabotaged. For the self-development within the individual of their own critical thinking, will generate the natural dopamine as a self reward. The sabotaged individual is on a path of codependency for brief periods of dopamine. The latter being a life of continual acceptance and rejection cycles. This is the past for most of society, because society rewards conformity while rejecting individual identity.

Perhaps as a hypothetical example, the star hockey player in his early teen years, later becomes the star dominant alcoholic male at the local watering hole, then succumbs to sclerosis of the liver, and is remembered fondly by his peers as "a great guy". This is the life of the "good contributor to society". Because nobody wants a "know it all" around that makes us feel stupid.

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