A pretty profound question is, “who or what would you kick an addiction for”. Now people religious enough will give Sunday School answers like God or Jesus. But for the rest of us this is a good question because the way our culture is addictions are so easy to fall into (alcohol, drugs, porn, internet, video games, food, etc..). And because of social breakdown we have less or no people we are intimate with. Some of us (like me) have nothing or no one we’d give up an addiction for. This idea is the backbone of the twelve step program. No matter what your feelings about the 12 step program who or what you’d kick an addiction for is an important question to ask—often without an answer.
Every therapist should listen to this podcast. All disallowing negativity does is silence those who speak truth to power. In fact if you take the idea there is truth away entirely than in the vacuum all that exists is what those in power command, in this case circuitously by banning negativity.
Great comment by phil on a NYTimes disability article:
Every person begins in a state of total dependence and most end life in some level of the same. one day I will be disabled.
I think the real problem is the wretched idea that the most human among us should be independent. I refuse to dehumanize another because their level of dependence on others is greater than mine. There would be no need for a pride movement among the more dependent if we started accepting our interdependence and if we humanized people, not based on their abilities, but based on their innate humanity.
Therapists demonize neediness and dependence. Somehow we are all supposed to live in a world where we can live a self contained hyperindividualistic existence. Unfortunately economic reality dictates that many of us can’t and certainly most of us with disabilities can’t. What we can’t help being is what we’re not supposed to be. If that isn’t ableism I don’t know what is. It’s even worse than religion. At least with religion if you submit to their tenants and perform their rituals they usually treat you as someone you’re supposed to be.
And why is dependence a bad thing? Calling someone dependent on others is almost a slur. If the capability to be autonomous wasn’t out of reach for a large portion of our generation then maybe you could make the case for it. But it’s not. It’s just another way to kick us while we’re already down. That’s what our culture is good at, kicking us when we’re down. Those on top are loved and lifted up. Everyone else can go die in a fire.
STIR article that says what I feel way better than I could:
When I say that I am against forgiveness, I am not judging individuals who choose to forgive. If doing so helps you, then by all means, forgive. What I abhor is a culture that places demands on victims and survivors, insisting that we are not whole until we forgive. Forgiveness culture implies that betrayers and abusers can expect to be forgiven — they can hurt and harm and rage — and should their targets decline to forgive, they can rest smug in the assurance that the refusal reflects a flaw in their victims, not in themselves.
Article on Christians’ reaction to the Orlando Shooting:
Believing that I don’t have the right to exist exactly as I am is hatred. Fighting against my civil rights is hatred. Believing that Romans 1 applies to me and that I’m therefore “worthy of death” is hatred. Referring to my existence as an abomination— which has happened to me multiple times over the last few days– is hatred. One man on my public facebook page told me I was abomination, that my existence was just as evil the eyes of God as mass murder, but then two comments later said that he “loved” me and “mourned the deaths in Orlando”!
Here are three poisonous vestiges of Christian implementation* that people who are no longer in the faith still often exhibit:
The protestant reward ethic. There was nothing wrong with the protestant work ethic initially, especially when one had a guaranteed way to be a gainful member of society. When there was a farm there were avenues to be productive by default. In industrialization where there were jobs as well. But as time went on implied reward for hard work became part of this ethic. Eventually the rewards were seen as more important than the work. A person who is working a tough retail job will be looked down upon in church while a person who got an easy better paying job through connections won’t be (little wonder working class people have been leaving the church). If you can’t find a job you’ll be treated very bad in the church, particularly if you’re male.
Intolerance. The intolerance and pettiness of Christian implementation is alive and well in those that have left the faith. Now these people are just directing their intolerance different places. Take the flak the moderators of the anti porn subreddit are getting. Or how shallow and vapid our celebrity culture is and how gleeful we all are to pounce on anyone who offers an opinion that differs from our subculture’s dominant narrative. The punk live-and-let-live ethos was never a part of Christian implementation (at least in America where people were Christian by default) and unsurprisingly is not part of post-Christian culture either.
Loaded metanarratives. Most stories are not neutral spaces, particularly the important stories in our lives. They are are loaded. There is a right side and a wrong side to them and you’d better expend all your effort making sure you get and stay on the right side of them. The most obvious of these is the Christian story which presents you with the right side (heaven) and the wrong side (hell), and a choice. What happened in the late 1800’s is evangelists had sons who went into advertising. Now the stories involved always being the bridesmaid and never the bride, just for not using the advertised mouthwash. Because of the massive amount of money to be made, the best of art and science got poured into advertising and it became so good that rebellion became commodified. Consumer culture may be even more pernicious than religion because by design it doesn’t allow doubt, but does so by making you think you’re thinking for yourself. The shame and rejection once characterized by hell is mediated through peers channeled from the mass media.
* I say Christian implementation because people defending the faith seem to think that Christianity was pure and got corrupted and thus the corrupted element (including Christians’ behavior) doesn’t count for anything when ascertaining the value of the faith
Suffering’s fallout hits men hard. It’s easier for women to have romantic views of suffering than it is for men. This is because, while suffering is horrible for either gender, the fallout of suffering hits men particularly bad. This is because suffering often makes a man a less vocationally successful member of society and there is a lot more stigma for being an unsuccessful man than there is for being an unsuccessful woman. Men are also expected to be strong and suffering saps strength and often engenders behaviors that in women would be rewarded but in men are seen as weak. Not that suffering doesn’t hit women hard, it does but in ways that I wouldn’t understand because I’m not a woman.
Suffering hits Christianity at its weakest line of defense. The problem of evil might not be the biggest problem religious people have to grapple with but it is one of the most existential and a problem everyone has grappled with. People running the faith made a calculation and decided the best defense is a good offense. So they turned the tables and called pain good. This works because generally the people who experience the least pain hold the most power. And those people drive the narrative.
Little disgusts me more than consumerist shaming. Looking down on people for valuing wealth and material things. This is so hypocritical because we all need to have a certain level of material success to be accepted in this society (especially as you get into your 30’s). You get all these articles saying how consumeristic people are using material things to fill some hole in their soul that could be filled with “love” or whatever the new vague in vogue trope is. Let’s face it, in American money is the state religion. People who are unabashedly consumeristic make us well aware of this fact and so we like to denigrate them because we want to feel better than them even though we would be the exact same way were we given more money.
Great NYTimes article on people always blaming themselves for toxic situations:
When people can’t live up to the increasingly taxing demands of the economy, they often blame themselves and then struggle to live with the guilt. You see this same tendency, of course, in a variety of contexts, from children of divorce who feel responsible for their parents’ separation to the “survivor guilt” of those who live through disasters. In situations that may seem impossible or unacceptable, guilt becomes a shield for the anger you otherwise would feel: The child may be angry with her parents for divorcing, the survivor may be angry with those who perished.
And a great comment by James H:
Sometimes people are depressed because the world is dying. Those who read the science of climate change and the politics of multinational corporations are trying to come to grips with the impending end of civilization and environmental diversity as we have known them since the beginning of human consciousness. How we approach those large possibilities should spawn a new entire new therapeutic focus that tries to help humans deal with their own extinction.