Monday, July 25, 2011

What I realized today: We're all crazy, and that's okay

The title is a little simplistic, because it isn't entirely true that I realized this just today. Rather, it's the culmination of something that has been building up for a while. And it's a pretty "no-duh" realization, at that. This grand revelation is that deep down inside, everybody in this society and maybe the entire world is a howling lunatic, and that's just the way it is. And yes indeedy-do, this includes yours truly. That this worldview includes me might lead some people to say that perhaps I'm just generalizing from myself onto the rest of society. To that I can only say, it's certainly possible, but based on what I've observed, I rather doubt it.

I'm not saying that this is a reason to harbor hatred or animosity towards other people. Misanthropy and bitterness for its own sake are never good things and not attitudes towards which I aspire. There was a period in my life in which I did hate myself and other people. I am appropriately ashamed of that period, but at the same time, I'm not going to dwell on it. What would be the use of that?

If anything, it's good in a certain way that everybody is basically nuts. Why that's the case make it necessary and important to look at why everybody is nuts. The world today isn't a good place. It is completely corrupt and dysfunctional, and heading towards a historically unprecedented crisis due to the fact that energy and resources are becoming increasingly scarce. Our societies and our mass psychologies are simply not set up to deal with something so drastic, inevitable, and comprehensive.

The result is something called cognitive dissonance. If you don't know what that is, Googling it will certainly provide quite an education, I'm sure. An example of cognitive dissonance are the Tea Party types who loudly proclaim as a matter of quasi-religious faith that there are and will always be plenty of energy and resources, and any information saying otherwise is part of some Evil Conspiracy. When you look at the totality of what these people believe in comparison to the reality of the world in which we live, you can see that what they're doing is sealing their minds inside the cultural myths that have traditionally sustained them, even if that means believing ideas that are essentially factually false. In the most extreme cases such as the Tea Partiers, cognitive dissonance becomes a fundamentalist religious mindset that must not be challenged. And if you don't believe me, go ahead and see what happens when you do try challenging it!

Certainly not everybody is as extreme, aggressive, and fundamentalist in their existential cognitive dissonance as the Tea Partiers. But such is the troubled and troubling nature of the world in which we live that even people who are mostly intelligent and fact-based engage in cognitive dissonance to some extent, and I have arrived at the conclusion that this condition is nearly universal. So how is it a good thing, you may ask?

Well, if the world is insane and headed for catastrophe in a way increasingly difficult to deny, normal human beings are going to be very freaked out by this. And that's good precisely because that is a normal human reaction. If people were not freaked out, then that would be something about which we should be very frightened. After all, generally only sociopaths are the ones who can remain eternally unaffected by the unfolding of dire events. And there are already more than enough sociopaths in this world, especially in the ranks of those who rule this planet!

On a practical level, that everybody is nuts is more likely to have detrimental than beneficial effects. People will cling to inappropriate courses of actions and self-defeating fantasy-notions about how to deal with the unfolding crises. But while there are things we could be doing on the collective level that could mitigate our predicament, once again, our institutions and mass psychology are not really set up to accomodate such courses of action. But on an existential level, it means you should love and accept people "warts and all" and do your best to constructively work within the realization that everybody is nuts.

After all, just because we the commonfolk may lack agency to do anything about where the world is heading doesn't mean that our existences lack inherent worth. So just do what you can to make your little corner of the world a little brighter for those with whom you have interaction, and if they're not in a place where they're able to deal with hearing about the harsh realities of the world situation, then find something else of substance about which you might converse with others. When one has no agency on the collective level, one is left to do what one can on the personal level. My advice would be to try and do so in a spirit of, well, Love and Light. :-D

Oh yeah, and also don't take the Internet too seriously. As Darva Conger of "Who Wants To Marry A Millionaire" infamy said eleven years ago, "America is high school and the Internet is the bathroom wall."

1 comment:

Loveandlight said...

Testing comments, 1, 2, 3. :-)