Attachment to outcomes is never a good idea, yet in our culture we receive messages from all sides telling us we are absolutely, personally responsible for the success of every movement that we support. The messages quite often are formatted in an “if, then” way. “If our effort doesn’t succeed, then disaster looms and so each of you are responsible!” Nonsense. If a movement or a cause requires a group of people working to achieve it in order to succeed, then no one person can be responsible for the outcome – good or bad. Moreover, believing that we are personally responsible for the outcome increases our stress level, making us more prone to all manner of illness and disease, and decreasing our levels of happiness satisfaction, and well being.
What we can control is our effort. We can do our best, but then to remain well we must learn to let go of how everything works out. When we consider all of the factors that must fall into place we can see that no one person is the fulcrum on which the success of the project rests. Believing that we are is a bit narcissistic, to be honest. Ask yourself, “am I really that powerful?” If you examine the situation closely, you will see that you aren’t (none of us are) and that blaming ourselves is factually inaccurate. When we hear someone say, “only I can fix this,” what we are hearing is the overreach of the narcissist. What is around the corner is that same person blaming everyone else for their failure to deliver on their messianic promises.
In these days of pandemic and isolation, what we can control are the choices each of us make on a daily basis to wear a mask, practice social distancing, avoid large gatherings, and to recognize that our actions do impact others. What none of us, even the best scientists, can do is cure this virus by ourselves or hasten the arrival of the end of the pandemic. All natural phenomena must run their course. In the middle of January we may wish we could hasten the arrival of summer, but winter must run its course. No one accuses another of personal failure for their inability to cause the seasons to change more quickly. Don’t let anyone succeed in making you feel responsible for what you cannot control.
Seriously? What would make us think such a thing was even possible? Who would choose a name like that, a name that implies that truth no longer exists? Of course it means that in our world today many people believe that opinion matters more than truth. I reject that notion! I reject the idea that truth can ever not matter, or matter less than opinion. What we have is narcissism run amok, including in the office of the President. What we have is propaganda passing as news, bald faced lies being presented as alternative facts, and attempts to confuse and distort in an attempt to do whatever we want to do without being held responsible for it.
If this is a post truth world, then I think those who assert that notion must be willing to put the law of gravity to the test. When I was a teenager, every now and then someone would drop acid and decide they could fly. Some of them climbed up onto the roof of their parents’ home and “flew” off. The results were predictable and swift. The next week the family would have a ramp built to the front door so that when young Orville Wright was discharged from the hospital his wheel chair could get into the house. Believing you can fly doesn’t make it so, R. Kelly.
Have you noticed how often millennials begin a sentence with “I feel…” and then go on with content we would have introduced with “I think,” “I know,” or “I believe”? Linguistically, for them, feeling is fact. Except feeling isn’t fact, it is feeling and can be influenced by any number of dubious factors. In fact, feeling doesn’t require fact at all, it’s completely subjective. After the big football game, the fans of the winning team feel happy. The fans of the losing team feel sad. Those who are fans of neither most likely don’t feel much about it at all. The fact is that one team beat another. There are not three underlying facts.
The notion of a post truth world cannot be allowed to continue unchallenged. We must have the courage, when we encounter someone who believes their opinion is equivalent to or more important that verified fact, to challenge that idea for the nonsense it is. We might assure our feeling friends that their feelings are valid and we would be happy to discuss them – while reminding them that they are not, in fact, facts. There is much reeducation to be done, and we need to start right away. We don’t want to build any more ramps.
All the brave protesters shouting "I am free,"
Spinning in their box for some pigeon feed.
Rage on their faces, rifles at their side,
"Don't mess with me because I know my rights!"
Convincing themselves much ado about nothing
So much better than a little blue pill.
Spending all your time compensating,
Still at the Statehouse you find time to kill.
A woman in charge simply will not stand,
At least not if you're an impotent he-man
So hide your face because you're brave
And play to the camera your freedom to save.
God knows it isn't easy to be effete,
Another 'Murican gone down to defeat.
Screw the dog, kick the wife,
Nobody can tell you to get a life.
Unfortunately, the last guy was found to be too damn stupid to continue, so we had to replace him with this box of rocks, which has been verified to be a very stable genius with very large hands.
Yesterday, President Trump actually suggested that a light – either inside the body or outside – might cure corona virus. The he suggested household disinfectants, since they clean surfaces in only sixty seconds, might be injected or ingested as a cure for the virus. CNN suggested that he was reaching for a quick solution. Nonsense. As I watched the video of him making these suggestions to physicians and telling them they should check these things out with medical doctors (does he not know these people are “medical doctors”?), I was struck by the fact that he most resembled a five year old child engaging in magical thinking. This isn’t a man grasping at straws, this is a man engaging in magical thinking at the level of a preschooler and pulling ideas from his intestines.
The truth is that we were warned about his stupidity. The rest of the truth is that a significant percentage of Americans either didn’t believe he was stupid or didn’t see it as a problem. That would be evidence of the stupidity of those people. You may not have to be a genius to be President, but you do have to be able to grab your own ass with both hands. Trump can’t even grab other people’s asses (an easier task), but apparently is proficient at grabbing their “pussy.” The fact that such behavior wasn’t a problem for American voters is evidence of a societal problem of epic proportions.
As I have written before, intelligence – like every other naturally occurring phenomena – is distributed across a bell curve. Average intelligence falls in the middle. Half of the people are of above average intelligence and half are below. For every brilliant person you meet, there is an idiot somewhere that balances them out. Currently, one of those idiots is occupying the White House until the above box of rocks arrives to take his place. What do we do about this?
I believe the biggest thing we can do is insist that education is fully funded. No more defunding education to please the wealthy and provide a docile working population. No more encouraging ignorance to please manipulative politicians who want to be able to convince the voting public they have their best interests at heart as they steal their wallets. No more. We need to reclaim our power and demand better from the selfish pricks we have elected to national office. Nothing else will change our situation.
Can I be honest for just a minute? I am talking about being brutally honest and pulling no punches. If this corona virus has taught us anything, it has taught us that we are surrounded by ego maniacal, delusional, narcissistic assholes. There really is no other way to put it that does justice to the level of dysfunction in this country from the White House to the last hillbilly loading his weapons and heading to their Statehouse wearing a mask because they are a curious blend of bravado and cowardice.
You see, normal healthy individuals don’t just decide they don’t give a care about other people’s health and lives, knowingly putting them in jeopardy. Make no mistake about it, that’s exactly what these assholes are doing. They have been presented with the evidence repeatedly yet they choose to ignore it. Healthy, psychologically intact people simply don’t do that. If you need more evidence for the large number of narcissists among us, just look at the ratings of Fox News. Despite encouraging their own employees to do the right things – social distance, stay at home if they are sick, frequent hand washing – their personality-less personalities go on the air and preach the exact opposite. Significantly, their narcissistic audience responds in an overwhelmingly positive fashion. Why? Well, because they are narcissists for whom facts don’t apply. They are people who honestly believe that whatever little nonsense bangs around their twisted brains is more reliable than science, more reliable than fact. My question is, if they are so sure they are right then why are they wearing masks? Shouldn’t they be proud, bravely showing their faces? Surely they can’t be covering their faces because of the virus, because the virus isn’t anything to worry about, right? So what is the issue?
Some well meaning but blissfully ignorant people tell us we need to heal the political divide in America. They say we can’t go on with the status quo, but anyone who was raised by a narcissist or married to one knows that they aren’t interested in coming to an understanding but rather expect the world to see the brilliance of their bullshit and fall in line. Much like trying to debate a drunk, trying to reconcile with a narcissist is a fool’s errand. Absent extensive psychological intervention, they aren’t going to be able to change, much less be interested in changing. Instead of trying to rope the wind, what those of us who have contact with reality need to do is mobilize. We need to mobilize to get out the vote, mobilize to pressure our elected officials to make responsible decisions rather than pander to narcissists, and actively protests those individuals and companies that do not comply. It is the only way we will ever see change.