Is time wasted when you have no measure? Is a lesson wasted without a student? Is beauty wasted without the beholder? Is talent wasted without an audience? Time keeps going, lessons keep teaching, beauty keeps flowering, talent keeps making itself known. We keep finding reasons to be humbled by the effortless effort of the Universe to show us that life is its own journey, and worth every step.
Well, yesterday was something of a waste. Still battling with the pharmacy and the doctor’s office to get a maintenance prescription refilled. Pharmacy said they needed a new prescription from the doctor. They called, I called, finally got the new script delivered. Now, the pharmacy says they need a pre-authorization from the doctor, which makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. So once again, I am caught running between the bases trying to get the doctor to authorize what they’ve already authorized so the pharmacy can send me the bloody medication. Good lord.
I’m still processing all of this insurrections detritus, and more importantly, making the effort to understand how human beings can believe that actions like that can truly effect the change they want to see. This was virtually useless, except to provide an outlet for the culture of outrage to garner more initiates. Those of us who have not been motivated to go this route are left trying to make sense of this, and manage our the escalating fear of the inauguration, as well as the path forward. Those rioters have not walked into a disintegration chamber at the end of Pennsylvania Avenue in D.C., or anywhere else, and so they are still with us. And they’re still mad as hell. This is not over.
I’m fiddling with myself today, and yesterday as well. For a really long time, at least since adolescence, I’ve felt like I was nuts cllinically nuts (not quite the medical term, but it gets the point across). I continue to employ methodology for living that does not work for me, I continue to hide my head in the sand and expose my ample arse to risk of damage. This has been going on for decades now, and I have been somewhat obsessed with figuring out why, or at least the cause for it. I’ve gone back and forth with this, at least in my own head, and whenever I am starting relationship with a therapist, my biggest question is always “What’s wrong with me? What’s the diagnosis for this?”. The one I’m seeing now diagnosed me as human. If we had been face-to-face I might have slapped her. We just stumbled onto something recently, however, that sounds promising in my endeavor to point me toward answers.
The unintended waypoint that was discovered is “attachment disorder”, and nearly as soon as she mentioned it my senses alerted. The bell tolled, and it tolled for me. This could be what I have been seeking out, running blind through the DSM over the years with my ears pinned back like my dog when she runs. It’s mostly developmental, and seems to fit with my very early childhood experience when newborns attach to their mothers…or not. My mommy was ill for a large part of my very early development, and i think we missed some steps. From what I’ve read, and from what therapist says, it can be remediated, although it will take a minute. That’s fine. I’m old enough to accept the fact that it will not be exactly cured, but having a category for it helps my quasi-linear mind (i.e. the control freak part of me) have a point on the map to envision. It’s kind of an explanation that I needed to relieve myself of the self-imposed burden of hopeless insanity. And the guilt of feeling as though it’s something I’m doing to myself, something I’ve not had the strength to fix on my own. It’s easier for me to give myself a break if I feel that it’s something that needs a hand from a professional, something that is experienced by others, and something I didn’t cause in the first place. Like the Al-Anon mantra – I didn’t cause it, can’t cure it, and can’t control it. I can improve it, cope with it, probably compensate for it, but I can’t really control it. And I am working on accepting that. That might not make sense to anybody but me (especially the control part, which is a fine line to walk) but it makes sense to me. It makes sense to me a lot more than anything else has, so I’m sticking with it. To be clear (for myself, at least), I don’t think any of this absolves me from doing the inner work I need to be doing, the recovery work, the responsibility work, the work to unravel this big knot of Self.
On another note, but not really entirely divergent…I was reading an article about the radicalization of one of the insurgents who died during the January 6 debacle at the Capitol. It was sad. This was a guy who had been an Obama supporter, a die-hard Democrat, and then some things began to go wrong in the country, and he became convinced that more fiscal conservatism and GOP economic strategy was the answer to these ills and so he became a die-hard supporter of the 45th President and his perspective on the economy and business. He began watching more alt-right media sources, and became – by definition – radicalized. Believed the election had been stolen. Believed Congressional members had betrayed us all, and believed that some of those leaders should pay the ultimate price with their lives in order to get the country back on track, according to the radical right perspective of what “back on track” meant. He died in the unrest, suffering a heart attack while talking on the phone to his wife.
I am very interested in what transforms people from reasonable and tolerant human beings to radical and violent harbingers of hatred and blame. This man had been posting messages urging other rioters to bring their weapons to the insurrection and to “take back their country”. I struggle with believing that simply watching Fox News or News Max is enough to get somebody to participate in a violent overthrow of the government. Over the past few years, we’ve seen this radicalization in the Middle East, when radicals there were beheading folks. Government overthrow happened on the regular, and here in the west we muttered about “those people” and how savage they were. Looking at what’s just happened over here, though, I don’t believe we are that far removed from “those people”. One of the somewhat disgraced White House advisors commented that he WOULD behead a selected officials, and mount the decapitated heads on stakes that would be erected at specific points on the White House grounds. He wasn’t kidding. This man has the current President’s ear. I’m still finding that difficult to comprehend.
Us sophisticated folks over here believe that we’re far superior in character and intellect to those sand torn, ignorant, depraved jihadists in the Middle East. After all, they’re not Christians – that’s mainly their problem, of course. When racist ideologues bombed churches and homes in America during the 60s, many of us found this horrible, but there was a core group of people who found those acts to be … necessary. They proclaimed themselves uber Christian, and uber American, saving our country by whatever means necessary. Those battle cries still resound in the voices of the insurgents who attempted a coup on January 6th. Same as the jihadists in the Middle East. Same as it’s always been during times of revolution. Contrary to popular belief, the January 6th insurgents really aren’t that special.
I have believed for a while not that we’re well into a revolution in the United States. It’s proceeding in slow motion, and is characterized by moments of brilliance followed by longer stretches of abject stupidity, but it’s happening. There’s a polar shift going on, and in its simplest form it looks like radical change, it looks like glass ceilings shattered, it looks like Black Lives Matter, it looks like the fight for living wage. Change in a society appears to be predictably cyclic, like geologic change and volcanic eruptions. Those cycles, however, can span a lifetime, a generation, a century, or millions of years. Societal changes seem to follow much the same course., only slightly quicker. Slightly. Since the earliest recorded history, there have been major geologic upheavals on this planet, and the same for societal cataclysm. It must be a universal law, that nothing can stay the same forever, no matter how short-sighted we are. Global scale, and universal scale, are more than we can comprehend. Those church bombings I mentioned were a favorite tool of the white supremacist resistance during the U.S. Civil Rights era. The KKK fighters and some elected officials swore they would never allow school segregation to become a reality, or rescind Jim Crow laws. They were convinced that changes such as those would bring about the demise of the nation. Obviously, the nation did not fall due to de-segregation of schools, lunch counters, public restrooms, water fountains, public transit, the ballot box, or anything else that elevated Black people to full citizenship. But, in those days, the fear of change was pervasive that it became toxic, and some were more than willing to die in order to maintain status quo. Sound familiar?
We’ll be unsnarling the hatred and divisiveness of these past few years for quite a while. To do that, however, we’ve got to stop putting more loops in the ribbon. I’ve been saying for quite a long time that you can’t say it’s history if you’re still doing the same thing, if nothing has changed. It’s still current events as long as unarmed Black men (and women) continue to die regularly at the hands of law enforcement officers, or white vigilantes, or the health care system. It’s still current events when Black and Brown students are significantly more likely to miss high school graduation, and significantly more likely to be incarcerated by age 18. It’s a 100-year event when a pandemic strikes, but it’s business as usual when Black and Brown communities are impacted by such a an event at disproportionately higher rates, and have far less access to diagnosis and treatment.
So, none of this is news, but juxtapose all of that with the insurrection. The battle cry of “we want our country back”. That’s not new, either, although the guns are bigger and the instigators are more organized and better networked. This is not going to go away any time soon. It’s the same battle that has been raging since Europeans first showed up here. When Birth Of A Nation was released, the opening lines equated problems in the country with the arrival of the Africans. That sentiment hasn’t gone far – everything wrong here is because of non-white people. Crime, economy, education, morale – all bad, all because of non-white people. Even killer bees were “Africanized”. What to do, what to do??? Get our country back, that’s what needs to happen – we have to get our country back. Things were so much better before THEM … well at least before they started being able to do everything we were doing, like vote and go to good schools and sit in the front of the bus, and stuff like that. THEY are ruining everything, ’cause THEY don’t know how to act.
Hm. That’s pretty oversimplified, but it’s out there. Just like it always has been. The names have changed, the faces, have changed, but it’s the same caste, the same divide. Here in America, it’s largely divided on skin color and class, and there is overlap between those strta. In the Middle East, the radical jihadists fought against people who looked pretty much like them; the conflict was over religious and political ideals. Rwanda in the 80s – same thing (although the Belgians had a little something to do with it). Once again, it all boils down to power in the final analysis. If it wasn’t about skin color here in the U.S., it would be about something else – mental health, intellect, hair color, beauty, shoe size. Sounds ridiculous, but read Lord of the Flies sometime. When left to our own devices, and with a dearth of resources (or perceived dearth), we human animals will go wild on each other. Just about any animal will do the same thing – put its back up against the wall, threaten basic sustenance, and they will kill each other to survive.
We’re supposed to be the greatest nation on the face of the Earth, so why do we feel that our back is against the wall? Why are our people starving on the streets, while a short distance away a small number of people are living in such opulence they don’t know what to do with it all. Why are we at each other’s throats? Why do we question whether or not there’s enough? I contend it is because we continue to operate in a mindset of scarcity, believing our resource pool is a zero-sum game. If there is a finite supply of ‘stuff’, I’ve got to keep my stash protected, because somebody is going to want it for themselves and I don’t know if I can get more. If I’ve got to get the biggest gun ever made to protect my stuff, then so be it.
My feeling on all of this is … we’re addicts. We’re obsessed with the thrill of having more than the other folks, because that makes us feel good. Feeling good releases endorphins, so we want that feeling all the time. We’re addicted to having things outside of ourselves make the insides of ourselves feel good – drugs, big screen televisions, booze, clothes, sex. Sex and drugs and rock and roll. There’s a rush of adrenalin when one feels they’ve won some type of contest, some competition, some demonstration of being more than someone else. If excess wasn’t a commodity, we’d be much better off. If one upmanship wasn’t our SOP, we’d be eons ahead of ourselves. If we all felt secure in our inner most selves, we’d be happier.
So, right now, as of this writing, my goal is to make it through Wednesday. Earlier, I posted on social media that no matter what one thinks of the incoming President and Vice-President, they are going to be taking office on Wednesday, at noon. I’m very apprehensive about the potential for violence, and Washington D.C. apparently shares my concern because the city looks like a war zone. Thousands of military and law enforcement personnel are guarding the streets, roads are closed to vehicular traffic, there’s an early evening curfew, and the news media is so excited they’re about to pee on themselves. The people’s house is on fire, and most everybody is running away from it…except the incoming President and Vice-President and associated staffers. They’re the fire department, running in to put out the fire, as civil servants always do. They’re either nuts, or they give more than a damn about this country, about we the people. The least I can do is shout out a heartfelt good luck wish, and stay behind the fire line. The incoming President is hitting the ground running, slowed down just a step by juggling all the balls that are in the air right now (COVID, racial equity, the economy, law enforcement reform to name the big ones). But they’re going in, where angels and sensible people fear to tread. The rest of us should remain seated and keep our seatbelts securely fastened until the captain has turned off the seatbelt sign. Let’s do this.