We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
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Sunday, May 25. 2014
Psychiatry has little influence over evil. That's for theology. Evil fantasies are things we (and everybody, pretty much) deal with routinely, but actions are another matter. The devil is stronger than we doctors are. Some evil is everywhere, from boardrooms to government to priests and pastors to teachers to cities to campuses. Please do not tell me that this kid had "PTSD," or an "anger management problem." Some people lack a moral compass almost entirely, but that moral compass spectrum spans from none to spotty to obsessionally scrupulous and fearful. We can deal with the latter relatively easily, but not the former.
The truth is that some people are "born to be hanged," and, at the least, removed from the gene pool. We too often piously imagine that happy and good are default settings for humans as if we could get everybody there with a rearranged psyche and a right environment (we term that "psycho-utopian"). It's an evil lie and an evil vision because it denies the existence of evil itself. My life, and history, have taught me that sin has great power. For all we know, violence, deceit, and destruction of good cheer are the default settings, and civilized behavior a special, difficult undertaking. That happens to be what Freud concluded, and he was smarter and a deeper thinker than I am. Not to mention many prophets, and Christ himself.
It is a positive comment on our level of Western civilization that we are surprised by gross acts of evil rather than taking them for granted. Quite remarkable in human history.
Good and evil remain the basics, as they always have done.
Addendum: I realize that my metaphors sounded as if I believed that evil is genetic. What I mean is that some people simply seem destined for trouble.
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I like M Scott Peck's formulation of evil as "malignant narcissism," and his desire to see if something might be done to treat it. But he was an honest observer, I think, and did not pretend to have found much.
I see it as an entertainment choice that gets into the news via soap opera women being the MSM audience.
Wow. I would so rather hear that there's a window of time, perhaps, between two and five, where the child can be helped to modify his behavior to avoid growing up and hurting himself and others.
"Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying." Pr 19:18
We would all like things to be true that there doesn't seem to be evidence for. I would wish that the statements in Proverbs or elsewhere were indeed promises, as some claim, rather than "general good advice to be memorised as a preteen," as is historically more accurate. Or that there is a Critical Period between two and five when great changes can be made in the personality.
I have certainly paid my dues to that POV, adopting two children and becoming guardian of a third, paying lots of money for private schools, giving up career advantages in order to be present with my five boys. But I have to sadly say that the general evidence that genetics can be overcome is very weak. It's not non-existent, but it isn't strong.
Indeed it would seem there are some circumstances that cannot be overcome, but many times in meeting parents who have children who are big trouble I have heard them say "we've tried everything," only to learn as I get to know them that they haven't tried anything. The proverb above, consistently applied, is a good place to start if, that is, if one wants to try at all.
AVI, I'm not sure what genetic predispositions you're observing that are hard to overcome, but I have an awfully hard time believing it doesn't mean a great deal to be raised by thoughtful, loving, and honest parents who teach them good lessons about how to get along in life. Do you really think your adopted fellows would not have been damaged if, instead of being the person you've long revealed yourself to be online, you'd stayed drunk, been dishonest about all your feelings, taught them that people treat each other like objects, and conditioned them to believe that the response they get from people has nothing to do with what they do or need?
Mind you, I have no idea whether there are kids who are born sociopaths, about whom nothing can be done by the best parents.
Yes, but then how do we have a conversation about corruption? Sadly, it has become the norm in this great country--we had a moment when we had beat that evil, but so quickly lost the battle.
Shall we look to Hollywood? Shall we look to Wall Street? Shall we look to DC? Where was the paradigm shift that so quickly changed our value system?
A big problem with "morals" is that people tend to use the term to declare anyone with different ideas as heretics, unworthy of life, deviant, evil, and anything else bad they can think of.
With of course the obvious consequence that they want those people to be killed, locked up, discriminated against, forced into psychiatric treatment to "cure their immoral thoughts", etc. etc..
And that's equally the case for every side of the political spectrum, sadly even for libertarians who after all proclaim freedom in every respect (as long as you adhere to their idea of "propriety").
It is my understanding that a "system of morals" is the collection of actions upon which a community bases it's legal system. If we do not have agreement on that then we have nothing to stand on, i.e. do we agree that transparency in a contract is good thing? Do we agree that not stealing by ruse, or physical assault is also a good thing? If we cannot even agree on these basic guidelines then why bother?
This post reminded me of what my teacher told me before, that people are born with a moral compass, or something we call "conscience". Whenever we attempt to do anything bad, a voice in our head tells us that it is wrong. However, there are instances when we don't listen to our conscience. If done repeatedly, we lose that voice in our head, which leads us to committing more evil.
As the mother of two, I don't believe people are born with a conscience. Babies are innocent sponges and it is up to the parents to "civilize" them by giving them a moral compass and inculcating a conscience. As the child grows and at various points ignores or heeds that conscience (internalized parental guidelines), good parents stay very involved in the process and continue to monitor and guide for as long as they can. I feel that this is where most of the process of parenting breaks down these days, with parents not involved, interested, knowledgeable, or aware, and kids are left to their peers and their own devices without being held accountable or learning from consequences of their actions. Too often parents are too wrapped up in themselves to give much to their children besides money.
I know that I never read the book, nor chose to view the movie "The Hunger Games", and I believe that most here at MF are not familiar with this trilogy either. However, after reading about this weekend's shooting in Santa Barbara, and the shooter's relationship to that film, I thought I should do some research on that film.
This trilogy is written for the teen age and slightly older market group. The story (3 films) is about kids between 12-18 being forced into live or die one on one battles. They are chosen by some kind of superior power, etc. Reviews say it is graphic and brutal- I don't know how bad, because as I said, I never saw it. However, Saturday's shooter lived it while his father was the asst director on the film(s).
Now I ask MF folks--would it be ok to look at Hollywood's influence on Saturday's real-life shooting rampage ?
I grew up in a time and a place where corruption was common. Boston in the 40's and 50's. My mother would often describe someone as born to be either a cop or a crook. That is a lot of our cops were crooks and it took the same kind of aggressive type A personality or mental defect (take your choice) to be either of these professions. It has been my observation that some people are indeed born with mental defects that no amount of mothering, upbringing, not sparing the rod, or other sage advice can repair. It is common to blame the parent(s) for a child/adults failings but in truth anyone who has raised children beyound teenager knows they actually do have free will and a desire to rebel against whatever you teach them. That so many of us get past the age of 35 without commiting felonies is an amazing feat. The shooter in Santa Barbara (or is he a stabber or serial hit and run driver) was mentally flawed. I'm sure there is a multisyllabic name for what was wrong with him but we can all agree he was "crazy" and not in a good way like our movie stars and pop singers. Perhaps he wasn't breast feed as a baby or didn't eat enough hummus growing up. Maybe church would have turned his life around. Or maybe some people are just evil/crazy/broken and cannot be fixed.
I like the "born to be hanged" phrase. Here in Texas there is a legal defense to a homicide, captured by the phrase "He needed killing". More sophisticated Texans state that the decedent had a "lead deficiency".