The Hurt That Never Goes Away: The Bias of Empirical Knowledge

This is all Louis’s fault.

My dear Louis, and to his beloved, May g-d rain the oil of blessings upon your crowns as you walk this earth together. Shalom!

I am writing this because Louis has been bugging me about another article. He took the chance that it might be, this time, definitively nihilistic—as those who have health and sustenance tend to be when bored—but, this time, just this time, I might surprise him.

We talked about a few things. I got the idea to write it out, to process through writing, rather, the seed of what he called my “prejudices” against the male gender, against humanity, and ultimately against the Creator. I recognized in my pattern for all my thinking was a conflation of negatives, a ripened fruit rife with worms. I seemed to catastrophize. I especially directed my negative energy towards the very groups of people I so wanted to attract. Why? Because I couldn’t attract them. Rejection is at the heart of every bitter thought man has ever had. And, this, is what I had to work out for myself, so I could at least live my remaining decades in some sort of constructive way, that instead of creating misery, I’d be healing it. Pardon me if I don’t reference Jung. I know of him. I know some of his terminology. But, I’ve never read the man’s work. No, I don’t intend to before writing this article. I want to say what I think, not parrot someone else’s thoughts. If after writing this article or series of articles, I feel I have come to complete healing, I’ll listen to a few audiobooks to see if there were any concurrences. I resist only because I know if it is a collective unconscious that we share, I’ll get as much credit for writing on such things as he has already.

Life is a bitch. No, let me rephrase. Humans suck. Yeah, better. Golden retrievers are the best. Yes! Anyway, I’ve come to realize that dwelling on the issues in this whole inner dialogue I’ve been occasionally posting on my blog is a stupid way to live. Yes, as the infamous Woody Allen famously quipped, “Therapy is spending thousands of dollars to find out ten years later that in the end, it was all your parents’ fault.” (Paraphrase mine) There is no way out of that one. It is true. It is incurable. It gets in the way of everything you do even if you are an artist with singular gifts. IT informs every decision you make.

But what if it doesn’t have to be this way? Isn’t Salinger’s ending in “Catcher in the Rye” with Holden watching his sister grab the brass ring descriptive of everything we go through, and the merry-go-round the whole epitome of our existence on earth? “Life is a game”, the old professor tries to tell a damaged Holden Caufield. He searches desperately for the innocence of childhood in his coming-of-age. Most idealists make the greatest cynics, not in the philosophical term for I cannot claim to know anything about that, but in the vernacular. When Holden finally gets it, he gets manically and fatuously happy. He comes of age through mental illness.

So again, what if it doesn’t have to be this way? Can we, like the mythical Chiron heal our greatest wound and become a wounded healer, thus our greatest strength? I make a pitiful example of a Christian for I still find the narratives in astrology applicable in the metaphorical sense. I have come to embrace every story that rings true…even if it has to seduce my soul with its beauty. Plato, in his concept of the true republic, would have been horrified. There is no greater villain to his version of a utopia than the poet and songstress, for they seduce with their sublime beauty what no man can ever reason back and overcome. Plato wrote bunk.

And again, what if it doesn’t have to be this way? Louis said something to me that I thought at the moment was trite. “Nothing can stop me from doing what I want.” Where haven’t we heard that before? I mean I am sure he lifted it off some basketball team motto. No. He didn’t. The fact that we can act differently informs our nervous system which then informs our emotions and eventually produces feel-good chemicals in our brain, if I am correct. That in term produces motivation that leads to incentive to repeat to do even better. Soon we have a habit and then a different way of living. Do this often enough with enough things, and even those of us pining for better lives will marvel at how we whined until the Louis’s of our lives came along and scooped us out of our merry-go-rounds, plopped us onto a forest path and told us to find a way. Because we can and will if we want to, providing we are not arrested in our heads by a chemical imbalance that only a good psychiatrist can fix…before meeting our Louis’s…and finding that change is possible, despite the morose attitudes we’ve held for 45 years about our childhoods.

Thank g-d for Louis! Shalom.

Systemic Discrimination: We Mad People Count

So much has exploded in the news lately about systemic discrimination of every stripe and polka dot that I felt someone from the silent 25% had to weigh in. One in four Canadians and Americans are mentally ill. Hold on, hold on. Before you click the X consider this: One in every four of your family, friends, colleagues and other acquaintances have, or have the potential to have, mental health illnesses or conditions. We don’t like to advertise it (OK, so I’m a bit weird that way), but this isn’t Complex PTSD which is what is all the rage these days in the news about COVID survivors. It’s the pre-existing, age-old, persistent, pervasive, and always discreetly disrespected, illnesses like Depression, Schizophrenia, Borderline Personality, and all the inglorious descriptions in the DSM-V. They are brutal, nasty and incurable.

There are no known cures. Imagine. You have a rough start in life because, as most of these illnesses go, genetics rule our fate, and you learn by observation and immense self-control to keep it together until you hit the first break from reality. It could happen at six, thirteen or twenty-five. It doesn’t matter in terms of stigma. You are FUBAR. Rough, hey? Oh wait, let me elaborate on that acronym. You suffer from a brain disease that ravages you ability to think, feel and act. To your family, you are a burden. To employers, useless. To society, at the bottom of the bottom of the bottom of the food chain. It doesn’t matter how well you performed on your entrance exams to university. It doesn’t matter how popular you are on your dating profile. It doesn’t matter if you’re naturally gifted and turned them into transferable skills. The label “CRAZY” is all people look for when they try to schuss you out. They want to know if you’re crazy right away because then they can have the option to reject you. Or, if they’re less than righteous, take advantage of you. Life after CRAZY destroys every shred of social approval you might have had previously.

But the problem is not that people hate you or don’t give you a chance. It’s that while other pariah groups are given a voice, given multinational coverage, and hundreds of hours every month with a platform to air grievances, crazy people only given a byline, royal assent, or 5 seconds of a anchorperson saying “Please support the mentally ill. It’s important. Too many people suffer in silence.” Then, nothing. No follow up, no effort. Texting for raising awareness and donating 5Cents of every text to mental health groups doesn’t help either. We need to de-stigmatize these illnesses and escalate finding science-based cures. Right now, even before COVID-19, the emphasis was cosmetic changes to older drugs, like turning a pill into a wafer, or injection, or sublingual, types of medicines. Why would a drug company pay good money for a cure that kills their cash cow? A cure would do that. Maintenance costs taxpayers and private insurance, out of pocket expenses billions each year. And profiting of that is far better than using drug company money to find a cure, only to have a stop to their reliable income stream. It’s not Big Pharma but Smart Pharma.

Let’s face it. Mental illness is not a sexy issue. Athletic stars will give a small boost to kids’ hospitals. People run pledged marathons for cancer. Mental health? Oh, well, the dedicated facilities for that in a country as advanced as Canada will only triage the very discombobulated or those with comorbidities, i.e. are drug addicted and in distress. The walk-ins who self-identify as medicated mentally ill who look perfectly fine but are suffering still are considered the walking wounded…falling through the cracks of the system as they lead desperate lives. They may never end their lives through suicide. They may never commit any crime. They may even finally go back to university and finish a degree. What’s their problem? They think every small noise is their landlord upstairs talking about them. They can’t go through one day without ending up unhappy. First-World Problems, you reply. So we suffer in silence. Wishing for an end to our life not by suicide or aggravation, but just to end all the damn trauma as soon as they wake up until they go to bed.

Of course, I don’t expect you to care or give us the time of day. You’re too busy. You don’t have time for all this. And most of you are faith-based in some way. Yay. After all, we get everything we deserve, one Christian blogger said of the mentally ill. I wonder if his opinion would alter much if it happened to his kids.

Social Distancing And the Schizophrenic

In less exceptional times, when people practiced social welcoming, there was always the outlier: the schizophrenic. You know, that lurking, dark presence that seemed so out of place with his restlessness and psychotic staring. You never knew if he was ready to jump you or jump in front of a moving truck. You just wanted to get the hell away.

That’s the ultimate social distancing. Not this wussy I-feel-so-sorry-for-myself-because-I-have-to-be-quaranteened-fourteen-days gig. Try fourteen years. Or in my case, try going on thirty.

There is nothing like social distancing to trigger the resentment of a person with schizophrenia. While you stand on your balconies to bang pots and catcall first responders, we stay inside—mindful that your attempts at socializing probably doesn’t apply to us, anyways.

We know you don’t want us around. We know you don’t want us to even pop out onto the balcony to stick out like a sore thumb in your solidarity within social distancing. You wish us away. Even our lit and curtained balcony window stands out to you as an anathema, a rebuke within its expected and sanctioned place in the pecking order. You wish us dead or institutionalized.

That is the problem with the dearth of eugenic planning. You don’t prevent this while in the womb or egg or sperm, you get a lifetime of trouble, instead. It should be universal knowledge now that schizophrenia has no evolutionary purpose, no religious blessing, no ontological meaning. It is simply a bad, genetic/epidemiological defect. It should be dealt with in the womb, or tested in the genome of each person, so as not to proliferate through procreation. Once your child has it, s/he has it. Then to add insult to injury, literally, they are reviled, bullied, beaten, misunderstood, stigmatized, and condemned to a lifetime of isolation on top of the ravages of the illness. It is, simply speaking, vile, social neglect.

So if you think 14 or 28 days is a loooooong time, just pray and hope in your agnosticism that you kids or grandkids won’t get a thirty year sentence of schizophrenia. Or even you, yourself or your S.O. It would be such a pity.

©️Vic Young 2020 All Rights Reserved

Excluded From Normal Society, Expected To Pull Own Weight

“Please note that X Counselling does not have the resources needed to support clients who have an active addiction, are mandated by the courts, have acute trauma, are suicidal, have a diagnosis of a severe personality disorder or a diagnosis of schizophrenia or other major mental illness, have a recent (less than 2 years) history of psychotic episodes or hospitalization, or have very severe depressive or anxiety symptoms that prevent the client from attending work/school, or significantly interferes with usual eating or sleeping patterns.

We do not provide ongoing counselling for chronic or recurring mental health issues.”

Well, to be frank, I didn’t want them either. Now, I really don’t want them. Not wanted. No, they’re not.

The question remains “Who will take care of the mentally ill?” Especially, if the Access & Assessment Centre at the Joe Segal Family Clinic won’t unless you’re high on drugs or actively psychotic or have tried suicide in the last 45 minutes? They won’t triage a distressed schizophrenic with first world problems. (Sorry, we DO live in Canada?)

I call in because I have chronic issues of depression and negative symptoms and suddenly, I’m not acceptable for triaging? Go home? After 3 hours of waiting? Come back? Well at least they had the decency to tell me over the phone not to bother coming—twice. See, no one in the Lower Mainland will see an emotionally disturbed, stress-adverse schizophrenic who doesn’t pose an imminent danger to themselves or others. The system is stretched and the people who are supposed to help send you on a runaround.

I’ve wondered whether they would question me on my self-therapy through craft-making. I’ve been in love with paper crafts for years. I was once boarding a bus with some top-notch paper (Here, it’s either that or cheap paper that bleed or fade. This loud woman in sassy heels and heavy makeup, yelled out, “Did you see that girl? She has a welfare bus pass and has art paper with her, and it’s the expensive kind!” I was so embarrassed. I slunk into my seat a bit lower. Honestly, if I have no therapist, the AAC won’t see me, and my GP isn’t trained to do mental health therapy, to whom do I turn? People in my city can actually be quite mean for being called Canadians. I wanted to go up to her and take my paper blunted pencil out, and shove it in front of her meticulously made-up face, and say, “THIS IS MY THERPAIST.” But, I resisted that temptation. Aggression by a drunk idiot is excusable in these parts. Aggression by a mentally imbalanced person carry a lifetime of consequences and is by default, your burden.

So, with my expensive paper and even more expensive tools, I started quilling. In fact, I’ve gotten good reviews on facebook. I even had my first customized request. I don’t call it a commission. I did it for free. The recipient was so happy with it that she gave me a big hug and words of gratitude. Isn’t that the best kind of therapy? The least harmful? In keeping with the Hippocratic oath, which that career bus slut probably didn’t know about, I am, by keeping well, doing the therapy a therapist would do. My expensive paper actually saved the biatch and all taxpayers “real” therapy money ($195/hour every two weeks), just not mine. In the end, everybody wins. What’s the problem, Madame?

You know, having said all that, I remember watching a program that featured published authors, where one interviewee was a writer researching “the clinically insane” and the attitudes towards the mentally ill, as well as the manifestations of the illnesses in patients. She studied the medieval times, when records of biological topics became more reliable, up until her present time. She mentioned with a lilt of surprise in her voice that “you want to know something? So-called insanity and its manifestations have not changed much at all over millennia. What’s even more interesting is that societal attitudes towards mental illness hasn’t changed at all or very little.” (My paraphrase.) Interesting? Surprising? Nay, it’s downright discouraging and defeating. But yeah, if you want to pique it, observe it as a social scientist. Hard to do as someone with the illness, but, heck, we’re used to cognitive dissonance and entertaining two opposing thoughts at the same time. (How else do you think I passed three years of IB English?)

I’m convinced that I am going to heaven at the point of death sometime far in the future. Why? Because every preacher who preaches makes the schizophrenic an exception to their preaching. Yes, both Billy Graham and A.W. Tower mention it specifically in their sermons. So, though I’m circumspect, I am glad I know that now. That mention of exclusion can also be noted in speeches made by motivational speakers, instructors, mentors, well-meaning relatives, etcetera. I can just give up on money management gurus and any kind of normal instructional pep talk because even these speakers make exceptions for us by saying, “We’re not talking about the mentally ill or psychotics.” O.K. I get it. So now I can turn you all off and listen to my gut and heart. And my religion goes as far as praying and worshiping, both privately. My witness doesn’t count, not only because I am female, but because my experience is exempt from qualifying for normal discourse. So go away. I am not listening to what to me is literally nonsensical, even by your standards.

Why is mental health such a hot button for me? Because I know no matter how much I impress you, once I say I’m Paranoid Schizophrenic, all my other excellent attributes become enshrouded under the pall of dismissal. The real question is, what if this happened to you?

©️Vic Young 2020 All Rights Reserved

Baby, It’s PC Outside

Political correctness doesn’t always mean respect. Sometimes, it just means replacing one set of customs with another under the guise of benevolence—almost always coercively.

A couple of Christmases ago a “professional” musician and her sidekick tried not only to rewrite “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”, but attempted to ban the original version as symbolic of the Me Too movement’s definition of sexual harassment. It is not. It is negotiating banter between two consenting adults with one party worried about how it would look or turn out. Not at all surprising for the 40s when this song was written and much prurience existed in the gossip and legal consequences of dating Americans. Abortion was criminalized then, and contraceptives illegal in most states.

Written by Frank Loesser in 1944 to be sung originally with his wife at evening parties among friends, it had run into seeming setbacks in 1949 when, popularized, NBC thought the lyrics too racy for the air. A re-evaluation found no prurience and the song soared in popularity into this century as one of the best 100 songs of all time.

How people interpret the 1944 song’s material or context is their right. But banning something from the airwaves and then replacing it with a graceless version of the same song, in the name of “mutual respect”, is, at best, laughable.

But it wasn’t just the absurdity of it; I immediately went to download the original song from my music provider because, well, NOBODY tells ME what to do. I resent any heavy-handed attempt to dictate what I could or could not consume. Offering a new version would have been more welcome if it wasn’t done in such a patronizing and paternalistic manner. Ironically, the songstress was aiming at the same vault that institutionalized harrassment she presumably so opposes has done from the very beginning: coercion.

Maybe it’s just me. Maybe it’s because I’m a Scorpio. Maybe my father didn’t hit me hard enough growing up. My point is, it isn’t the way of democracy to decide what materials citizens get to access. Although far from perfect, our Canadian way up north doesn’t include writing out histories, opinions, or facts. It certainly doesn’t mandate what we have to listen to, or not at all. Musical pieces are part of history. It’s OK to provide alternate opportunities, but it should remain just that: an alternate opportunity. If it had been well-written, I even might have gotten to like the new PC version and switched. Now, they’ve shot themselves in the foot by attempting not to give me a chance, literally.

The only acceptable reason I can ascertain (if you could call the least degree of stupidity relatively smart) as to why they’d attempt to ban from and replace it on the airwaves is because they wanted to capitalize in dollars what the MeToo movement could almost only do in sensation. In other words, they were financially opportunistic. If she did have honourable motives, then it was stupidly handled. I am a feminist. Feminism is about liberation, yes? Well, no man or woman tells me what to do. Ergo, if I don’t adhere, I support harassment. Having my fem-sister tell me what I can’t listen to, especially under the guise of upholding the values of the MeToo movement, is manipulative.

I must assume, for my sanity’s sake, that this artist was doing it for the money. The sheer stupidity that the idea this woman had to record and plug her song as the only version that a good feminist would ever listen to makes me go blind and deaf with rage and disgust. Chica-sis, the sex wars may never blow over, but you lost this battle. ~V

©️Vic Young 2020 All Rights Reserved

Zeitgeist 20s

In our day and age, the one conclusion I’ve come to is that it is possible to interpret the present times as one where there is no authority higher than ourselves. With existentialism being passé and Romanticism being junked for cold, hard reality, we are living in a Zeitgeist where the individual self-references. Is it good for me? What do I think? What do I believe? Isn’t God’s Word just so boring and irrelevant? Wait a minute…that is existentialism and Romanticism. Eh?
We live in a world full of rhetorical questions. The oppression we see across the world countered by our own “do-what-feels-good” makes the intelligent woman or man question the validity of rules, laws, regulations, commandments, and even truth, itself. “Fake, fake, fake!” cry the counter-media. But there are deeper questions than what can be tweeted in 280 characters. The question might be, if our border allows all those within it to do this thing, then why would I be persecuted when crossing the imaginary line to the next country? Aren’t there absolutes? Aren’t there any fixed points of reference? What exactly is a universal, human right? When does it apply when the “authorities” of the land says it does not? Or what do we do and whom do we believe when the very Nobel-winning face of a champion of human rights allows for so many deaths, so much suffering, and reprehensible ethnic persecution? Are we being fooled? And how do we know when to trust a leader, even if she is a “Canadian” three times over? But as we will see, such questions most likely will not find answers. The all media (pro-, con-, or alt-) not only does not see everything; more precisely, it does not see all angles, and it does not present objectively all of the time.
I had the same problem when watching what was touted as objective reporting. I still don’t know when our civic and national news centres are feeding us a spin or exaggerating the sins of important people. I mean, how much of the truth can you really pack in a sound byte? We all know that recording a history of something, someplace, or someone is fraught with problems about its veracity. People forget. People lie. People have an agenda. People have loyalties. People have no loyalties. People are patronized by certain groups or by the wealthy and the powerful. People might have a gun to their head or their families may be in jeopardy. People are misguided. The list of possibilities continues. The point is, history itself isn’t objective, and nobody knows what really happened since we take it by artifacts and theories and hearsay. Even historians can’t tell at that moment of action because of the vast scope of unknowns, of which they only know their own point of view. Sure, we can synthesize, but synthesis implies “artificially” stitching disparate parts together that overlap somewhere, at times. Reality is not knowable; we simply weren’t there, nor at all possible angles.
It is the same with reporting. Nothing is knowable. Well, ok, that a man was shot point blank in the chest, while being pinned down, and that he was black and the officer who shot him was white, we can literally see that, nowadays. We can even watch little white guys in sunglasses gang up and choke a big, black man to death even when he’s done nothing criminally reprehensible or provable but have a short rap sheet of petty crime and saying he couldn’t breathe. We can watch systematic racism in a democratic nation as people of Hispanic and African origins are deported, while the British, the French, the Italians, the Slavs—all Caucasian races—breathe a collective sigh of relief. After all, as one policeman put it while being recorded by his own dash cam while stopping a frightened Caucasian couple for speeding, that they weren’t to worry; they should know from the news that “we only go after blacks.”
Is God interested in our lives? Furthermore, is there something inherently wrong with that paradigm? I experimented, for about half a day, with the thought that perhaps no leader, no authority figure, no clergy or family member, is above me. I am my own highest authority. I felt very uncomfortably out of my skin while trying to live that out. By the end of the day, I was back in my shell, begging God to please forgive me for erroneous thinking, much of which was influenced by seeds sown by my betters and by the situation of the free world. We can depend on “sunny ways”, yet the law is the law. We have tremendous freedoms, if we stay within current mores. We have a nation rich in tolerance and diversity, but now the PM has appointed his childhood chum to have vague and overarching powers over the “misinformation” espoused by “third parties and advocacy groups.” Then he appointed enough friends of this friend’s to be members of the Supreme Court Justice to ensure his brand of justice from the highest and entirely “independent “ level: the judiciary.
Does anyone else see how much power has slowly been sucked up by the PM and his cronies? Within a social democracy and constitutional monarchy, we are guaranteed freedom of speech. It is still touted, but it is no longer as a Canadian reality. Slowly, we are experiencing the erosion of this Canadian value as cronyism does its dirty deed to concentrate the ultimate powers in this land into the hands of the ruling few. It is an oligarchy. No Canadian is guaranteed the contents of Charter of Rights signed in the last century by Pierre Elliot Trudeau in front of Her Majesty The Queen. We do not have a true democracy. It is a muted, tone-deaf democracy that may be well-meant, but not well-expressed.
You know, at the end of the day, we can witness for ourselves by the wrangling on the international stage that it is the man, yes—man, with the most powerful gun/nuke who is the ultimate authority figure. By extension, I can see the day when all hell breaks loose and we devolve into tribal warfare. This world is not heading into a very good way. I hope most of us still remember to say our night-time “Now, I lay me down to sleep” prayer, because it looks like now we’re going to need it more than ever.

©️Vic Young 2020 All Rights Reserved

From The Archives: Who Gets To Go To Heaven?

Too many Judaeo-Christian scholars and clergy, mostly men, give blind praise to kings David and Solomon. Unlimited wisdom. A man after God’s own heart. Righteous men, right?

Most Jewish and Christian clergy would say so. Of course, they don’t take into account how David married many wives and had many concubines. He was so righteous that he had to lock up his defiled concubines with an eunuch so they’d never have a man again after what Absalom did to them on the palace roof. And he demanded Michal back, even though she was already long unloved by David and married to another man, who loved her deeply. All in the name of godly righteousness. Kudos, Dave.

Solomon had 600 wives and 400 concubines. He was favoured by God. 1000 women? Really? But the Jewish and Christian clergy have no problems with this as they blithely sing their praises to these two men. Really???

Thing is, what do we make of God, then? Is he fair? Is he righteous? Does he care about the welfare of women? Well the prayer of thanksgiving that Jewish men from the ultra-right goes like this, “Y-w-h, thank You for not making me a woman.” That is the first thing they utter every morning as they get up from their marriage bed. Nice going, dudes.

Recently, some bloke told me his boss was harassing his female employers to the point they cry and/or quit. I asked, quite logically, if your boss hates women, why not hire all male staff? He responded casually, “Because girls work harder,” and then qualified it by saying his boss is a good guy and just trying to get by like any other boss in the country. He also said he said some consoling things to the girl, but it was in vain because she was already married. WHAT? Excuse me? He also said that he hated doing the ironing, the only other task he had besides patrolling the premises and napping on the couch.

He would Skype me after taking his meds and before falling asleep. I got the sense I was a past-time for him and deleted him. Our mutual friend then advocated for him, saying he found me good entertainment value and that, geesh, does every guy have to be assessed for his marriageability? I thought that odd, coming from another woman. Then, I realized, she shared his values and also liked the company of men better than women, hence the passionate advocacy. (She swore on the life of her two kids that this guy was harmless). Whatever.

Is God friendly, if he isn’t going to be fair? I had a good look at Genesis the one time I was searching specifically for the curses God put on Adam, Eve, and the snake. The curse was that a woman’s desire will be for her husband and that he shall rule over her. Take that, Eve, for eating the forbidden fruit. Ouch. It’s not whether it is fair or not in contemporary times. It was an ancient, ancestral curse that God justified. So, in the end, it seems God can’t even take it back. He is then justified despite the unfairness of how we as women suffer. It is the way it is.

I don’t blame the ultra-right Jews for their prayer. If I were a man, I’d be praying he same thing.

©️2019 Vic Young All Rights Reserved

Keeping Your Enemies Closer

I’m the kind of person that only learns from a good scolding. My parents figured that out long ago, and, to this day, they still use it though sparingly. When some people in your life act adversarially, don’t worry, they’re telling you the truth—about yourself.

For instance, I did not quite catch on to the truth about credit, though I could recite the golden rule of compounding interest. It wasn’t until the checkout woman at the clothing store watched me swap from using my debit card to my credit card that she commented, “Credit? That just means you pay now or pay later.” She didn’t like me much, and yet, she woke me up to the evils of credit. Without that unpleasant exchange, I would not have embarked on my angst over being in debt.

Why is this so crucial? Your enemies are trying to hurt you. They pick on your weaknesses to do this. This helps, believe it or not, because you need to have your weaknesses exposed constructively to grow. Constructive doesn’t mean coddling. It doesn’t mean positive reinforcement. It means what will reach you at your core so that you change. For me, it takes disciplining and scolding. That is simply my personality. I don’t think much when someone says something positive or when I’m complimented. I double-take, though, when someone is negative. Somehow, that is a method of learning that works really well for someone as stubborn and narcissistic as myself. Well, I must not be that stubborn and narcissistic if I can change with discipline.

One thing that discipline does which people like me find difficult is that it puts you in your place. But, you know, I respond to that too. I’m not above the rules of human nature. That’s why this article title is about keeping your enemies closer. Yes, friends are wonderful. The sensitivity some friends show is beautiful. But what really goads us to change is the harsh truths of reality. Only your enemies are ruthlessly honest enough to show you that.

©️2019 Vic Young All Rights Reserved

The Bitter Truth About Lying

We all don’t want to be found out. Those skeletal remains in our proverbial closet haunt us every morning as we wake up and try to live a normal or nearly normal, well-adjusted life. It is our ruin.

Why don’t we simply clear them out? It is easier said than done. Some of them are attached to other people’s welfare. Others are attached to our own. Either way, it seems, we lose.

Enter normalcy. The simple truth is that everyone has a secret.

It’s just that most people pretend that they don’t, and hence, the urban myth that there are normal people and then there are sociopaths. The truth is that in their private moments, the average person has watched porn, desired like the dickens to poison someone else’s coffee, and lied to a loved one.

It is actually the so-called abnormals who admit to their guilt when their conscience won’t let them rest. But even then, there are promises and secrets which even lucid abnormals will take to their grave.

What seems to be a transgression is actually a mercy. What seems to be, as what our society stigmatizes as, a “liar’s” undependable and irascible nature, is erroneous. If you go to more sophisticated societies than ours, lies are understood as an accepted part of daily life. Lying, along with diplomacy, comprise the social lubricant to peaceable coexistence in many societies. It’s only the primal part of the brain that insists on truth-telling. Well, the good news is that we have evolved and added on cerebral layers. And, these days, some or most of the time, lies allow people to live just that–peaceably.

Basically, everybody lies.

I’m not saying to go out and deliberately cause trouble through lying; that is rarely, if ever, a good thing. Nor am I saying that the manipulation that goes on with lying is good. But it’s just that this entire tell-the-whole-truth thing, unless under oath, is not representative of everyday life. It is abnormal. It’s comical watching different factions of society accuse each other of being liars, regardless of which camp they fall into. It’s amusing because while a seemingly rather insignificant, lonely, trigger finger points warily and witheringly at the suspected liar, three other inconspicuous ones naggingly and firmly point back at them. Meanwhile, the opposable digit does false homage to their Deity. In short, individuals and institutions fall short of the moral standards they so readily espouse. This is why political smear campaigns from the many camps don’t work on more self-aware people of any walk of life.

I anticipate there won’t be many likes for this article. I anticipate it won’t be widely shared on Facebook. People are so afraid of the stigma of being associated with lying and “liars” that they are willing to lie about how they represent themselves to others. And, the irony of it is that this may just be a good start.

©️2019 Vic Young All Rights Reserved

About That Bucket List And The Meaning Of Life

Anyone who tells you there is meaning, any meaning, vague or specific, any purpose to life, is either brainwashed or trying to sell you something.

Be real. Life is, indeed, a phenomenon. It is ontology itself, by definition. However, this does not entail that there is any meaning or purpose to it. Quite to the contrary, it is fraught with basic anxieties in the whole need to whittle away the time in order to not go mental while we wear down the years that ravage our bodies and minds without mercy.

Spiritual folk look to a Higher Power. The more funky of us think aliens are going to give us enlightenment and answers. Both may answer a few questions. The truth is that even if you found such Being or beings, neither could take away the everyday realities of existence specific to humans.

It is ironic that at our advanced stage of technological science, that we are living increasingly meaningless lives, becoming more brutish, and, yet, living longer. In fact, we live such long, brutish and painful lives that we have introduced the right to die clauses in the constitution of many nations. Those that don’t have an assisted dying law practice methods of eugenics that range from crude to sophisticated; they are often uncontested as it is the elderly, the diseased, the disabled, the mentally-ill, the criminals, and the unborn who get snuffed. The only exception is that pro-life/anti-abortionists are active for the case of human fetuses, but whether they can honestly say that they care beyond the abstract principle of not killing is dubious, as no one protestor can attest to an attachment to something they can only see on grainy film. Other than the mother who might develop an attachment, the rest is theoretical until the baby is born. Besides, most of these same pro-lifers go on to various forms of abuse towards children, drive these children to delinquency and self-medication with street drugs and booze, lead them in a life of violence, only to incarcerate them out of “tough love”, and, ultimately, express desire to reinstate the death penalty. Hurrah! Aren’t we humans fearfully and wonderfully made?

We look to Nature for answers to our meaning to life. Another irony. Both Creationism and Evolution agree that we are the highest and most developed of creatures—so, why are we looking backwards? I am not referring to, the stars forbid, to question the legitimacy of animal welfare. Rather, I mean that we are not doing ourselves a favour in debasing our natural complexities to the level of lesser developed lifeforms. Science, in that sense, and theology in other ways, too, are based on speculation. Nobody knows anything for sure. Repeatable results only prove that something is repeatable. It doesn’t make the hypothesis and its conclusion indisputable truth, and it certainly tells us nothing normative. Theology deals in speculative directives, also unprovable. Nobody has proof that the dead contacted by mediums are only demons in disguise. Nobody knows what heaven is like since nobody has gone there and come back, and even when they supposedly had, such as the Apostle John, he was forbidden from speaking about it, and the mystical scroll was rolled back and sealed or swallowed or closed again. It was the same with the Apostle Paul. So, good luck Truthseekers and Mythbusters, alike.

Perhaps the only sure thing that probably a slew of philosophers before our generation have elucidated is that of personal, lived experience, and even then, it is only true to our filtered understanding. In other words, lived experience, or truth, is subjective and, hence, relative. That is a sad state of affairs, perhaps. And yet, good to finally know since we can all start on the same page…that is we all are in different proximities. There is no absolute truth or reality or rules.

What works for me may work for you if altered to suit your lived experience. Inalienable rights, advantageous to the survival of diversity in the human race, are couched in normative terms, and “seem” politically manufactured. Even if acceptable to most, they are instilled in us by socialized brainwashing and not personal experience and understanding. That is our mistake in pedagogy. Then again, if there is going to be social brainwashing, inalienable rights of all persons and life forms is probably the only one thing worthwhile brainwashing others into advocating.

When you start to question and investigate further, suddenly, we don’t know anything for sure. Suddenly, we’re fucked in the head. This is one reason why philosophy is mostly not harmless.

The one human gift that abides with me from childhood is the ability to appreciate abstract beauty. It could be in a measure in music, or in a literary turn of phrase. It could be as eternal a beauty as a wistful fairytale, or as fleeting as a comedian’s punchline. In any case, it is what gets me through the dreary days, while addicted to my phone, to YouTube, and to the mall wifi, and that whittles away at what has proven to be a life that is too long, and moments of beauty, too short.

©️2019 Vic Young All Rights Reserved