It’s been a while. I want to touch on a subject that I’ve mentioned briefly from time to time. By now, many of you are aware of the murders by a possibly mentally ill man in Florida in which the murderer beat his victims to death and then started biting off the flesh of the face of one of the victims. So far, tests for illicit drugs have come back negative and the possibility of a mental “break” cannot be dismissed. The etiology of his bizarre behavior does not particularly concern me. However, if this is a case of mental illness, it resurrects the debate of the rights of the afflicted as contrasted with those that are “unafflicted” (or afflicted differently, at least). My position has solidified over the years, and I find that the only “fair” choice is for those that are being harmed to have safety from those that are doing harm or have done harm. Society does not need to justify a fair desire to remain safe. Is it possible that medication could help in similar circumstances with others that are mentally ill and violent? Sure. Should society have to take that risk when one has shown violence? No. Sometimes bad things happen that are irredeemable. Realization and restraint may come, but if one has shown that they are poisonous, no one has to take their word – or the word of anyone else – as sacrosanct and above those unalienable rights to safety that we all should enjoy.
These are strange times. My intellectual grasp of the interconnectedness of the world is at peak form even if I do not hold an emotional state toward others living on this earth. Cognitively, I realize that every action I take affects someone else in some fashion and that every action another takes may affect me. In this sense, the grand dance that is life is slowly being revealed to me. What will eventually come my way from such a focus on the intertwined nature of life is yet to be seen. I do not believe in karma, but I do believe that if one seeks to be part of the world, they must respect the world. By respect, I mean that the individual must realize that others have their own unique positions in life and that they exist separate from the observer’s point of view. There are times in which my selfishness and callousness shines through, but by and large, I am morphing into a new being. This is no accident. Months and years of meditating upon my place in the world have brought me to this point and a lesser mind certainly would not reach the same conclusions that I have. These are strange times indeed.
It’s been a bit since the United Kingdom voted, democratically, to leave the European Union. Whether they actually do or not, given that the Europeans practice a bit of “democracy when convenient”, is irrelevant, though amusing to me. The philosophical question is one that was theoretically answered by the U.K. population: who owns the right to self-determination? In my belief – and I hope with yours as well – it is ultimately the people that give the government power to determine the governed’s fate. That is, the ultimate power resides within each and every individual that a democratic government derives its power from. This concept of being able to chart one’s own destiny, is ultimately what brings me to this post. The punchline may be the same, but I hope this connection to real life sheds some insight as to who ultimately holds the authority in our separate lives: the individual.
Compassion should be considered a verb and not a noun. That is, I do not buy that people are inherently compassionate. There will always be exceptions to their alignment, and, often, the misfits of society need not apply for such compassion. However, compassion is a conscious choice. The person showing compassion is making an effort to give mercy where the situation need not demand it. Everyone is capable of compassion, but many choose not to show it. I propose that the healthy individual cull those that refuse to act compassionately. What gain is there to be had in associating with an individual that refuses to help another in need? Eventually they will choose not to help you in your time of trial as well. As I meditate and become more interconnected with those around me, I am making difficult decisions regarding those that I keep in close proximity. My emotional bonds may be non-existent at the moment, but I certainly do not wish to keep those in my life that will not be there for me when I need it. As the proximity to oneself increases, the bar to be cleared by those in such proximity must be made higher.
I rarely have any actual investment in the topics I discuss. Good things happen to bad people at times, and at other times bad things happen to good people. If I’m not the person being affected, or those in my life are not being affected, then I simply cannot care. What ultimately interests me are those processes under which the majorities of the world operate. These can be political majorities, socioeconomic majorities, or even majorities with respect to mental illness. I want to know how they function and what makes them tick. Often these groups can only remain cohesive through an act of mass dissonance. That is, the individual succumbs to the majority by separating their emotional states from their intellectual states. Further, the emotional state is given more credit than the intellectual state to alleviate the existential crisis that would arise from a state free of dissonance. Humanity needs to be less afraid of dissonance and must own it in order to make educated and reasoned choices to the problems man is confronted with. Embrace your pain.