Train Them to be Terrified
Hundreds-of-thousands of words written since August 2018 but not a single essay birthed to the internet.
Guess that's cause I'm determined to be Queen Hipster™ and only write in paper journals so those words will probably never see the light of day unless I'm put in some kind of solitary confinement and get so bored that typing them out and putting them on the internet will be a relief from the torture of staring at white walls.
I'm sure there's a lot of gold in those journals.
Same Shit, Different Poop Bag
No travels to report on, really. I've been to a few cute places and have even done some things that have a good shot at the Best Basic Bitch on Instagram Award, but nothing an intelligent and sane reader such as yourself would give a fraction-of-a-fuck about.
So today, Dearest Reader, let's explore some psychological-slash-philosophical things.
Out-Pontificating the Pontiff
I joined a philosophy meetup group and finally have other deep, intellectual, ruminating nerds with whom to dissect topics into infinite, microscopic, pointless – yet fun – pieces. We meet weekly to nerd. It's grand.
Last week, in a beachside coffee shop, the topic du jour was Power. For the most part the topic was discussed and debated in the physical sense. You know, politics, war, and the like.
But then...all eyes were on me. I went straight into arguing the psychological uses of Power because, to this contrarian, psychological power is as powerful as physical.
To illustrate my point I referenced The Villiage, a movie I saw...Jesus, must have been 10 years ago? I guess a synopsis would help here, so very briefly...
[SPOILERS!!! AVERT YOUR EYES NOW IF YOU'VE NOT SEEN IT CAUSE I REALLY LIKE THIS MOVIE AND IT'S BEEN GREAT FODDER FOR LOTS OF PONDERING SO I'D HATE IF SOMEONE HAD SPOILED IT FOR ME BACK IN THE DAY.]
The Villiage is the story of an isolated group whose leaders use fear to keep other members of the group from leaving or falling out of line.
I loved this film the first time I saw it. Call me simple but I love unexpected twists in stories. I never see them coming.
Certain films have an afterburn; a period of days to years wherein I can't stop the tennis match of ideas they spark, and this film is one of them.
At first I was horrified by the tactics the leaders used to keep the village together:
What kind of monsters could do that to children? This is what happens when the elites in society get drunk on power, man! This is what happens when they want to control our minds, man! They're just a bunch of power-hungry white men, man! (No, wait, that was a quote I saw on Twitter.)
Anyhoo, after grappling with the underlying themes in the story I came to a disturbing conclusion: Yeah, I'd do it.
It's not easy for me to admit it, but I would. I don't have kids, but if I did, I'd be damned if they'd be spending their days on phones, internets, and in front of TVs. Sometimes I'm utterly in awe of our willingness to outsource our societal duties to a bunch of psychos on the other end of a fiber optic cable. It makes me sick to my stomach to imagine strangers who would make my children feel ashamed of their bodies, who would prey on them, who would sway their behavoir, or who would influence their precious little lives from far, far away.
I don't know if I'd quite go to the same lengths as the leaders of The Village, but I'd figure out a way to reach the same ends and still be able to sleep at night. Why would I go to these lengths? Because that's how I was raised, of course!
Teach Your Children Well
My adoptive mother raised us on true crime shows. Kind of a strange thing to be enjoying with your kids, ages 7-10, but ya know, she did her. And boy she scared the living pantaloons off us by showing us what's out “there”.
By the ripe old age of 10 I knew as much about Ted Bundy as I did American history. Could I crush a spelling bee? Well, no. But I could take home a gold f'n medal in a Jeffrey Dahmer trivia contest. Has it fucked me up psychologically? Absolutely it has. Buuuuuut...
Am I still alive? Yes.
Were her girls always safe? Also yes.
Did she teach her girls to presume everyone's a murderer and/or rapist until proven otherwise? Absa-freakin'-lutely.
Did her girls develop the ability to read and predict people like top-shelf carnival psychics? I dare you to try to lie to one of us today.
The lesson here is, she had a job to do and she succeeded spectacularly. How could you argue with the tactics? The point is, she was a woman in the mid-90s who had to work ten hours a day. That means her chickadees had to go out into the world and fend for themselves. I think we can all agree that a mother's number-one mandate is to protect her children, and that's precisely what she did.
I suppose she could have done this in a number of ways. She could have hired bodyguards for us. She could have demanded that we were confined to the home and sent a tutor to educate us. But those options were financially impossible, so she went forth, with her mandate in hand and was forced to get creative.
Remember there were no cell phones or tracking devices for children in the mid-90s. If you were lucky – and a maybe little douchy – you got a pager around 1996 and your parents were able to send out a Bat Signal. It was on you to get in touch with them. They had no ability to see where you were or spy on your activities.
Granted, I grew up in a nice place, but it was an incredibly dangerous place. I can't believe I made it out alive.
Faced with these predicaments: dangerous world, no ability to physically protect your children, what do you do? Seriously?
You train them to be terrified.
Fear is Avoidance
Fear works. I'm no biologist but I can't help but regard fear as the most powerful force acting on every creature in Kingdom Animalia. Imagine that, instead of God, it was Nature barking orders to Moses up on Mount Sinai. Her commandments most certainly would have begun thusly:
1. Thou shalt stay alive. 2. Thou shalt keep your children alive. 3.. Thou shalt insure your children have children. ...
These are Nature's laws, not ours. They're no joke. They are so powerful and so deeply ingrained in us that we will do the damndest things to keep them.
So here I am today, pondering the thought of scaring the shit out of my kids to keep them safe, while conflicting thoughts scream, what kind of monster could do that to children?
Color-me-monster, I guess.
I'll revisit my previous question: what other choice did my adoptive mom have to keep her girls safe? I have thought about this 'til my brain melted and I can't think of one.
Sometimes These Things Backfire
The mission has been accomplished. The Second Commandment of existence has been successfully defended. I am still here. I am still alive.
With a distrust of people and a belief that the world is dangerous and full of murderers and rapists I live on. I breathe 25,000 times a day. I eat. I shit. My heart beats and my nerves signal.
However, there seems to be a small problem: I didn't breed. Because the world is so terrible and dangerous and full of rapists and murderers, I refuse to bring another life into it because that would be cruel. Breeding requires trust and closeness and an ability to be vulnerable.
My genes have reached the end of the line. I will not be able to keep Second and Third Commandments.
Nature has a funny way of self-correcting. Those of us with no fear die off (and if lucky, receive the coveted Darwin Award).
But those of us with the most fear die off, too.