Transitioning Dead Zone

I think we can all agree that society’s relationships are continuing to transitioning from Martin Buber’s I and thou to I and it.  But the transition is like the dead zone where your cell phone is trying (and failing) to reach the outermost periphery of your wi-fi network but doesn’t know well enough to give up and connect to the cell phone network.

It is a recipe for depression when you are expected to believe you have innate worth (I and thou) while experiencing the opposite (I and it).  The culture and modern psychology in general is so disingenuous about this.  Can’t we just admit that physical appearance, money, status, and charisma are the most important things.  Can we quit pathologizing low self-esteem and learn to see it as an often correct self-assessment.  The whole concept of self-esteem presupposes one has innate worth which is untrue for all but the luckiest of us.  We need to move to the way it was in pre Christian times where people were open and honest about one’s value being tied to their station.

imaginary love

Great article, questions that killed my faith:

The idea that there is a God who wants you to feel loved by him simply isn’t true. Some people are good at feeling imaginary love and other people aren’t. It’s another placebo. For some people the effect is strong enough that it really helps them feel happy on a day-to-day basis; other people get nothing out of it. If it works for you, they will say “great, isn’t God’s love amazing?” If it doesn’t work for you, “just hang in there and keep trying, God won’t give you a bigger dry spell than you can handle, he really does love you, don’t expect that your needs are going to be met in any specific way because that’s arrogant and God’s ways are beyond our understanding.” If we believe that God will absolutely draw near to us if we draw near to him, and he isn’t drawing near to us, then clearly we aren’t doing a good enough job of drawing near to him.

 

Yellow Flag and Privilege

In racing there are different kinds of flags.  During many of them such as the yellow flag, drivers are not allowed to pass each other.  Now imagine in this flag situation the opposite of rubber banding (where in Mario Kart where the AI racers behind are placed closer to the player playing than they should given their performance) was happening.  Pretend the car in first place was allowed to go faster and each car down the line was allowed to put 150 feet between them.  It would make the race more unfair obviously.  I feel that’s what Trump has done to America.

The people of privilege have put distance between the rest of us and now there is more separating us as one goes further down.  The people in last place (refugees and immigrants) are driven further back because everyone has put distance between them.  As a man with a disability my interactions with men of privilege are noticeably different.  We just don’t have much in common.  Until Trump got elected I used to obsess over my closest friend from college but that has all but stopped now.  Because we are utterly different people, our experiences singular.

the biggest problem with good things

I think the biggest problems with good things is you don’t notice them.  We just tune out systems that are working properly.  Kind of like how you don’t think about your washing machine at all until it starts malfunctioning.  A lot of people didn’t vote last election because they just assumed the government would keep running fine without their input.

Help and Those Further Down

Help is of less help to those further down in society.  Some reasons why:

Psychological help often presupposes one has the resources to make a change.  Resources like:

  • A ride to therapy, the doctor, and the pharmacy
  • Money or insurance to pay for care and medication
  • Stable housing and relationships where one has the option to get out of without losing their housing
  • A friendship group that doesn’t revolve around vices and addictions

Therapists often have a poor understanding of those whose problems are beyond their control.  This is especially true because often these people have had middle class upbringings and have never been poor.  Those on the bottom know hyper individualism well because they are on the exhaust end of it!  Hyper individualistic solutions aren’t much help for those on the bottom because in order for their needs to be met (like a ride to the food pantry) another party is going to have to perform a sacrificial act.

Therapy (particularly Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) presupposes one’s negative thoughts about them self are distorted.  The further down one is the more one’s poor self image is validated by those around them.  Belief one has innate worth ends up becoming an impossible psychological burden when everywhere one goes there’re bombarded with the opposite.  Then they’re guilted for having negative thoughts about them self and goaded with the idea that somehow their life will be better if they just had a positive self image.  But positive self image is a key that unlocks the value one already has, it doesn’t create value in and of itself.  For example a pretty person has a lot to gain from going from poor to good self image but the improvement in self image isn’t giving the person anything extra, it’s just causing their good looks to shine more brightly.  This is because the expression of positive self image is charisma and charisma disproportionately helps those who are young and attractive.  If you are male, 45, and making minimum wage, more charisma isn’t going to get you dates or guy friends.

Therapy doesn’t work as well on those brought up in a disciplinarian environment (like many of those further down are).  It takes a good (translation: expensive) therapist to reparent a person who had a harsh upbringing.  Therapy has a different way of seeing things than someone brought up in a disciplinarian environment so a lot of times things that could help end up going over one’s head.  When one is brought up with the idea that everyone is basically evil and needs correction and punishment to set them straight and then they go to a therapist who says people do good because they know it’s the right and healthy thing, not out of fear of punishment it is bewildering.  It would be a good thing to have therapists that had extensive training on shepherding people who hold a disciplinarian world view (while not trying to change it) for those brought up in disciplinarian environments because many of these people are never going to change their ingrained views.

One must realize that in therapy for those further down often the bond with the therapist is more important than whether they are disseminated the precepts of psychology.  That’s the only thing that ever worked for me.

The Discipline of Stigma

There is a good case to be made for the stigma surrounding mental illness, at least for those in power.  For one, it keeps money that could go to the rich from reaching social services.  The second is harder to explain.

We need to start seeing shame and stigma as a discipline because that’s the way those in power see them.  The discipline of stigma keeps people in line, following oppressive social mores like not divulging their pay or playing along with the culture’s ruse of meritocracy (the idea that there is a path to success for everyone provided they work hard enough).  The thing about stigma is the worse it is the more people under its thumb live in fear and those in power have a deep desire for all of us to live in fear so we don’t rock the boat.  If we were to conquer the monumental stigma against mental illness we would upset the discipline of stigma not in the least because we would turn our attention to conquering stigmas in other areas which would scare those in power.  Kind of like how after climbing the tallest mountain one can turn their sights on smaller mountains because of the confidence boost of successfully climbing the tallest one.

Penguins

Great post on loving yourself:

Telling someone who hates themselves that their life will be better if they learn self-love is about as helpful as telling a penguin it can fly if it just flaps its wings. Sure it sounds good, but no matter how hard a penguin flaps, its feet will never leave the ground. Just as there are birds that can’t fly, there are people who can’t love themselves. But, if you told that penguin to jump in the water and flap its wings, that little guy would be swimming circles around you. I’m not saying that self-love isn’t important, only that it is not the only way to feel whole as a person.

We Christians like to talk about Hell a lot, so let’s talk about Hell a little.

White Christians who Voted for Donald Trump:

This is the personal Hell we’ve unleashed upon our people this week. 

And if you’re a white Christian and you voted for Donald Trump: You need to fix this. Now.

You comprise the lion’s share of Trump’s elevation to the highest office of our country.
You knew exactly who this man was while you held your noses and covered your eyes and endorsed him anyway.
You are fully responsible for the flood of personal sewage now engulfing children and adults of color, those in the LGBTQ community, those in the Muslim community.
And you, white Christian, better get you spiritual shIt together and figure out how you’re going make this right.

Or, you can step out into the school hallways and bus stops and coffee shops and Twitter feeds and bring the bold, loving, redemptive presence of Jesus you’re always claiming you want to be in the world. You can actually step into Hell and bring the freakin’ love of God.