A Societal Denial

So many issues and challenges surround our daily lives. Our level of concern for ourselves and society at large has continued as a perpetual buzz that lies slightly below our conscious awareness.

To become desensitized to the chaotic nature of these times is one response to the presence of fear. There are other ways to respond to fear, such as fight, flight, freeze, or fawn (e.g., people-pleasing). There is plenty of accessible information about these types of stress responses, and I do not mean to belittle the importance of this information; instead, I am shifting my attention away from the more abstract realm of psychoeducation and to that of societal analysis of the variety of ways these fear responses are presenting.

As calamities have accumulated, social norms have broken down or altered to such a degree that they are no longer recognizable to their previous versions. This change is just one indicator that our physical bodies, on the individual level, and our societal body, on the collective and symbolic level, are being reduced further and further down to the level of base needs and primitive reactions. The most central fear (reaction) to security concerns (need for safety).

Similar to the individual needing the safety provided by having shelter, the citizen (i.e., the “mass man” as Carl Jung describes it) views the government as being the protector who provides some level of security; in fact, this is the most basic agreement of the social contract that connects government with the people it governs.

But what happens when components of one’s shelter break or deteriorate? When the A/C breaks in one’s house, stress levels rise as the discomfort sets in and frustrations build, as patience must be exercised while waiting on someone to fix it. What if a break in the mainline and the house’s water supply is disrupted? Would this result in the same kind of stress as that of the A/C breaking?

The responses are likely similar, but a house’s water supply disruption would evoke far more fear than the A/C disruption (in most cases). Moreover, in both cases, the hope of someone coming to fix and repair these issues allows for this stress, fear, and associated negative emotions to abate.

While most people might opt for some skilled professional to come and repair these types of issues with their shelter, the someone who fixes the problem and eliminates the associated fear needn’t come from the outside. That is, it could be the house’s inhabitants who fix their A/C or broken water system by taking matters into their own hands. Of course, this could also worsen the issue due to the lack of professional knowledge and understanding.

Say this situation happened to you: the water system to your house is malfunctioning so that the supply is disrupted, and you decide to take matters into your own hands to fix the issue, only to compound the issue, making it far worse than the initial issue.

What do you do? Would you be developed enough to recognize the error in your decision and reach out to ask a professional for help, or would you double down on trusting your own abilities to fix both the initial problem and the problem that emerged from your attempted remedy?

To extend this line of questioning further, which of these responses would most likely lead to a reduction in general distress, both for the person who is attempting these repairs and those witnesses to it?

It seems relatively clear-cut within the context of home repairs, but what if the context is transposed to the societal plane involving the relationship between citizens and their government? Sure the citizens may be able to identify breaks and/or deteriorations in their societal shelter, but does that translate into having the necessary understanding to attempt to remedy the situation by taking matters into their own hands?

As the saying goes, “be careful what you wish for because you just might get it,” and what then? What happens when you are the person attempting to fix a problem but refusing to acknowledge your incompetence and need for cooperation because your fear of being embarrassed is blinding you? What happens when you decide that the citizens are the only ones who can successfully remedy the complex societal problems yet only make matters worse with each successive attempt to remedy these ails? The dripping leak within the system turns into a raging torrent of your own making.

But is it actually your fault if you were only trying to help? If there is already water dripping from a crack in the system, how is it your fault if it worsens when you try to fix it? And away we go – swooshed up and transcended from these terrible and frightful discussions of matters of reality and into the realm of argumentation, semantics, and logical fallacies to pacify as illusions for the weakened (or undeveloped) ego to, once more, evade looking into its shadow avoid taking responsibility. Both to ignore the damage it has done through over-estimating itself (ego inflation) and for denying the seriousness with which the reality of the situation demanded.

It is not an excuse to say, “I didn’t know that would happen,” when trying to perform home repairs on issues you are not qualified to do. Neither is it an excuse to perform fallacious lines of questioning in such a way as to distract from the real issue at hand and then pretend as if the distraction is a solution. Nor is it one to become entrapped in perpetual argumentation about the right solution does not resolve any given problem in itself.

Whether it is performing home repairs or seeking to address societal issues, operating from an inflated sense of self-confidence, blind sense of duty, and uncompromising stubbornness in admitting one’s mistakes not only does nothing to work toward a solution, but it also actively resists the necessary cooperation required for any meaningful and sustainable solution to be achieved.

Image: “Arrogance, Fear, and Pride.” Self-created image using AI Generator: https://nightcafe.studio/

Now What?

And who can argue for the living when confronted with the grave need to litigate for the dead?

Where do we go from here as we look off the face of this ledge?

Walk away, shake our head, go to bed and blame the issues on what’s wrong in other peoples’ heads.

What good does this do for the land of the living? Where are the debates of the corporeal? And why is it that those with whom we disagree somehow reside in a lesser reality?

Why bother to debate about the unborn or where we go when we die when the land of the living has become but a standstill, where even reason has found its capacity to cry?

“Oh, let’s have a debate,” they’ll say, but it disintegrates the moment of invoking things of the transcendent. We muddy our own waters with our dual-mindedness of both wanting to be right and to prove others wrong – yet, we like to nod our heads and go along with all those with charisma who play the song: it’s not us who are lost but them. Thus, it’s not me who is lost but him. Thus, the problems that exist are among those things outside of myself.

How dangerous it is to live in the fantastical lands such as these, where behind every door there must be some new mystery? The search is never over; the investigation never done, and the anticipation of the revelatory moment somehow still yet to be won…

But, alas, as to be expected with such things—we mustn’t concern ourselves with these things—rather, look another way to find a friend, and together we’ll find our fellowship in scapegoating a common foe.

We’ll vent and fume before sighing and saying, “What is life but full of woes?”

Oh, how we sow and sow—sometimes even forgetting to reap…even secretly, restraining ourselves from making a peep about the disharmony of the cycle. Why have we become so maniacal? Because of our love to sow and bask in the flow of more and more – after all, what is all of our work for?

This question takes a dark turn when the sowing has been overdone. There’s no land left to till, and no straw to continue to feed the spinning wheel—what is one to do when idleness creeps into one’s hands? Exercise patience, sort the harvest, and pursue leisure as a source of gain? A laughable notion, as absurd as turning water into rain, fears into pain, and grain into gold…but, then again, we are all getting old; it’s possible the same rules no longer hold…to venture closer to the edge and peer a bit further or to stay and stand firm in the trust bestowed from the ground beneath our feet—what if your feet begin to sink?
Would you fight and climb or say everything’s all fine; cry out to the world, “are we all losing our minds?” Then turn back around and continue with the dinner table discourse.

Voices of the Collective

If only we changed this single aspect, then these types of tragedies would be reduced or elminated; it’s too much of that and not enough of this; it’s actually too little of that and too much of this.

In fact, it’s not so much either this or that but rather another singluar aspect that hasn’t been taken into account appropriately: mental health. Actually, saying this is only a way of scapegoating the real issue of gun control and is even harmful to the work to destigmatize mental health.

I think it’s the effect of these new and extremely life-like video games that are normalizing violence, even encouraging it. Actually, the research doesn’t support the connection between violence in video games as a predictor for the committment of violent acts.

It’s probably the constant coverage the news media provides that serves to amplify the perpetrator and allow for others to seek that kind of recongition, especially because of our culture’s emphasis on celebrities.

Whatever cause or combination of causes that resulted in the action does nothing to erase the actuality that it happened, and it hurts — it should hurt because it is a tragedy.

Often we become lost in muddled arguments and too quick to avoid genuine engagement in them. However, without the proper usage of argumentation and discourse within the public square, nothing has been processed nor any action taken toward the prevention. Consequently, we are just taken back to where we started; another repetition completed.

What was gained this time around?