Reflections of the Soul
There’s a saying that the things you criticize most in others are your own biggest weaknesses. I’m not sure that’s entirely true, but it’s certainly true that things which bother me most about other people are things I utterly loathe in myself and try not to be.
That said, I’ve spent a great deal of time and effort working out what my motivations and the like actually are so that the narcolepsy-induced depression doesn’t eat me alive (for those not so familiar with the issue, being narcoleptic means that in addition to being constantly sleepy, I never get really good sleep. So I operate in a state more or less approximating coming off an all-nighter – medicated. Without medication it’s more like having been awake 48 hours plus. Chronic sleep deprivation causes depression. Therefore in addition to pure narcolepsy symptoms I get to “enjoy” depression. Go me).
I’ve noticed that with few exceptions (and most of the ones I know comment here, oddly enough), people don’t like having to think, and they really don’t like having to think about matters of ethics or morality. It seems to be a human default to want some authority to decree what is right and good as well as what is wrong and bad.
No doubt this makes things easier in a lot of ways, but it certainly doesn’t make things better. Instead of people figuring out what they approve of, what they can tolerate, and what gets a resounding “hell, no”, you get witch hunts. And if the authority in question is particularly shallow, today’s good thing becomes tomorrow’s witch hunt. Worse, since disapproval and even shunning doesn’t work on outsiders (and most of us here are outsiders more or less by definition. It kind of goes along with being Odd) doesn’t work that well on someone who isn’t in the group or community in the first place and doesn’t much want to be, the most vicious hunts are reserved for what might be called the fallen faithful. The traitors, in other words. I don’t think there’s a cult anywhere that treats the apostates who used to be faithful better than the designated enemy.
After all, the designated enemy is – by definition in most cults and a lot of religions – irredeemable. The apostate has a choice, and chooses to leave the fold. That, to the right mentality, makes them worse than the designated enemy, Great Satan, or (gasp) not-leftist.
The thing is, when this sort of thing happens, the loudest, most vicious persecutors are the ones who have doubts. They see their doubts reflected in the apostate who’s fallen from grace, and redouble their efforts both to prove to their compatriots that their faith remains strong, and to prove to themselves that they are still a rightful part of the group.
Orwell’s Two Minute Hate sessions show how well the man understood people: the Maoists in the Great Leap Forward (shame they were aiming for a canyon of crapsack world-building) made use of the same technique in their ritualistic denunciations, as did the Soviet show trials, and of course the Nazi rallies. Orwell just gave it a convenient name and imagined it as a rather pathetic ritual that would be followed by a nice cuppa with the neighbors.
These days the two minute hate is a hashtag and a handful of memes, usually recycled from somewhere else. And usually perpetrated by people whose souls are so tarnished by their lack of concern for anything outside their personal bubble all their actions reflect is the banality of evil. Yeah, I don’t have any respect for that kind of thing. It’s all rather contemptible, really.
The trouble is, when education is geared to suppress any kind of independent thought and all forms of entertainment are also aimed at suppressing any independent thought, and kids are being emotionally coddled in the name of “self esteem”, you don’t get adults who can think. You get overgrown emotional toddlers who throw tantrums when Mommy and Daddy Government don’t give them what they want. And everything they do and say reflects that.
Which is why indie publishing is good. Storytelling – as long as there’s a good story and said good story comes first – is an excellent way to spark thought. My earliest storytelling was shameless Mary-Sueing myself into the worlds I read about that I so wanted to be part of (in my defense, I was around 8 at the time). Then I started making my own worlds.
I’m tempted to say go forth and do thou also, but really since I’ve not been that good at writing lately, and I’ve been really shitty at getting what I write printed, I’d recommend that the writerly inclined go forth and do thou a damn sight better than me.
(Image By Oregon’s Mt. Hood Territory. – http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/byways/photos/62736., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=715348)