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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Tuesday, April 24. 2007
We forgot to link the Peggy Noonan piece on VT, at Opinion Journal. Better late than never. A quote:
Read the whole thing.
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Where are the grown-ups?
Not in DC. We should however quietly seek out the grownups, wherever they may be. We may need them some day.
In many places, yes, we have forgotten how to make them. But they still exist, though seemingly few are found in the right places.
The Noonan piece is good. As is your appeal for grownups. BUT the balancing act I can't figure out is how to preserve the freedoms so precious to us all, whilst protecting people from the murderous impulses some harbor towards themselves and others. So forgive this sophomoric rambling, because I find myself flipflopping, and with no satisfactory conclusions, only contradictions. Where is Socrates when we need him?
First, will you agree that Cain was wicked when he objected "Am I my brother's keeper?" We are not our own, we occupy our bodies rent free courtesy of God, and are only here to serve others. So, at least for a believer, all freedom is given in the context of responsibilities to God and other humanoids and especially the dogs.
Having said that, I think God practices a certain benign neglect and allows us to cherish our fond toddler illusions of freedom. So we should probably allow others the same leeway. For example, I believe that everyone should be free to live as they please, even if I find their habits bizarre or repulsive. However, at what point do their freedoms impinge on mine? As, for example, if they pour toxins into my fields, or fill my children's school curriculum with arrant nonsense? Or smoke and drink to excess or become obese and become a charge on the community? If they develop TB or an STD and feel free to spread their diseases without guilt? Or if they feel free to abuse my religion and my gender, prey upon children? Or if their freedom allows them to rampage manic and/or paranoid and/or homicidal?
To take the most immediate example, one much in the news.. Am I free to kill myself if I decide that life is miserable and hopeless? I would say obviously not. Despair is the ultimate sin. To doubt the providence and mercy of God is wicked. What makes me human, that spark of the divine that resides within even the most feeble, witless and discouraged of all of us, is the ability to sacrifice my freedom to take up my responsibilities towards others. So, even if it weren't a sin, suicide is a crime because it hurts one's family and dependents, lets down everyone counting on one.
Adolescents screech for freedom. Grownups keep their commitments. Jesus told us how in seeking to save our life, we would lose it. How those who wish to follow him must take up their cross. That doesn't exactly sound like a ringing endorsement of "I've just got to be me" variety freedom.
I am tired, so forgive the bad writing, and loose argument. Basically, I agree with what you write regularly about freedom from governmet control, and how grownups should take care of themselves, not look for handouts or pablum opionions. When we are shocked by tragedies like these, your warnings about not using it as a grandstand and exhortations to be grownup about it are good ones.
But I also believe that under certain circumstances, all of us can and should have our freedoms temporarily abridged. Censorship is necessary during some wars. A homicidal person should be locked up to protect their potential victims. A suicidal person ditto. A violent person ditto. When any of us become dumb, witless, vicious or out of control, we should lose our freedom. When your kid behaves badly, they are grounded.
I have often described the melodramatic family troubles that highlight for me the difficulty of balancing an individual's right to self-determination versus the right of society to be safe from insane aggression and paranoid, manic disruption of the life of those around one. Not because my situation is unique, but because I have never known when I am being an officious busybody (as now,for example, trying to figure out how to protect a manic relative's parental inheritance from being squandered), and when it is my duty to intervene (as the several times when I have had to commit furious and homicidal relatives who thought nothing was wrong with them but everyone around them was an assassin or, in my case, a traitor).
Depending on the person's diagnosis, as you BD well know, someone essentially harmless can sound dangerous (if they have an active imagination, obsessively repeat things they like the sound of, but never in life have even stepped on an ant) and someone truly dangerous can seem calm, in control, even charming...Women are raised to beware the handsome, charming stranger who offers them a lift, lest he turn out to be a sociopath.
Finally, I hope that you won't throw rotten vegetables at me or start to snore, but I do think that inadequate "funding for mental health services in the United States." is a huge problem. It wouldn't have stopped CHo, but colleges are full of walking wounded kids who need more and better care than they are presently getting. Children of selfish parents, kids of divorced parents, kids raised by the help, addicted kids, depressed kids, confused kids, etc. It is my belief that the reason why student mental health services are so skittish about serving even the obvious threats like Cho, is that if they admitted their responsibility for the violent threats, they would also have to help the far greater numbers of kids who perhaps could be more productive, healthier and happier with some well-timed mental health care.
Obviously, most people can do just fine without either therapy or meds, but they ought to be easily available to people during the time of life when the major disorders are likeliest to most dramatically affect a young life. A child living with loving parents can be protected, educated and cared for, even psychotic. A young person away at college thinks they are grownup, but does not yet have the brain development, let alone the wisdom to get themselve out of the hold of, say, a suicidal depression on their own. One breakdown and their life can dead end.
Enough from me...
R. I agree with much of what you say. But it is a fine line, as I see it, between trying to assist everyone that needs assistance with life and coddling those who just need to get on with it. Sorry for the pedantic, but the only guarantee in life is that it will eventually end. Obviously there are many who through no neglect of their own need and deserve a helping hand through life. And we should proffer it. But for many more a life of hard knocks, mistakes made and lessons learned will likely lead to hardier and more responsible adults. I am not quite so old as too not remember the vagaries of youth. Deep depression, desperation, anger, all the many symptoms of angst you mention. And I am not without certain issues today. But honestly, I never listened to a damn word of those who tried to help/direct my life to a better way. Not that they were wrong, they were not, just that I was too damn stubborn and wrapped in my ego to truly listen. I think that that is a conundrum we are dealing with yet. Kind of funny really, the socialist/leftist/communalists believers in all for the common good, at least in this country, are also the loudest proponents of the sanctity of self/ego over all other demands. No wonder the confusion. The freedom you describe above re those who place us at risk brought to us by the 'its all good' folks.
Not grown-ups we still love:
Good points. And reminded me of one beloved and coddled teenager I know well who drifts despite incredible gifts, perplexed family, expensive therapy and meds for near killer depression. The worst of the illness now relieved but she won't buckle down to work. What she needs now is a job as a cashier in a supermarket with rude, in a hurry people making demands of her. I think that will get across to her the virtues of hard work and good grades in about two days, better than any lectures her parents can deliver...Most of us need those reality checks...I remember once, back when the rocks were young and dinosaurs roamed the earth, lobbying relatives to support me while I did an unpaid year's training in my profession. They looked blankly at me "You're a grownup, find a way to do it" I ended up scooping ice cream minimum wage to earn enough for my beans and rice and rent, and got a lot out of the year. Took a while to like the stingy relatives again, of course, but that's another story...
Good comments here. Thanks to all.
"When there is no wind, row."
I won't comment directly on the counseling center at VA Tech because I really have no way of knowing what they did or did not do in the course of dealing with Cho.
I will say more generally that college counseling centers have become bad jokes on students. They are often filled with careerists who are light on clinical education and heavy on trendy identity politics. I've personally encountered open disdain for serious clinical work (sneeringly referred to as 'medical model'), while the critics of solid clinical work seem concerned with little more than internal politics and climbing the administrative hierarchy by wearing politics on their sleaves as substitutes for clinical expertise.
Most often, the politics are some trite version of feminism along with some showy but vapid declaration of support for gay students (pink triangles on all the office doors at one counseling center I know... bound to scare off a paranoid student most in need of help), and an emphasis on phony multiculturalism pleasing to accreditation board visitors on all expense paid evaluation junkets/vacations.
I personally know of an entire class of interns at one center who could not speak English well enough to grasp the cultural and linguistic nuance of the majority of the students who would show up for counseling, but that didn't matter because the counselors were Asian... what kind of Asian didn't even matter because Asians were just what the the deans and the accreditation board ordered. It doesn't matter, for example, that a Thai intern who speaks very poor English is no more culturally attuned to the Indian graduate student seeking counseling than an Inuit therapist might have been (they would have loved to have had an Inuit therapist). It was all about appearance.
Another trend at these counseling centers is to talk about spiritually based treatments. One counseling psychologist I knew would actually wear a Wiccan pentagram on a chain around her neck. She is now the head of the Counseling Center at one of the most prestigious universities in the United States. (She also had a habit of confusing the door to the women's washroom and men's washroom and repeatedly walked in on me while I was attending to business).
Another "counselor" at the same center believed in 'changlings.' What is a changling you ask? Best I could tell they were some sort of little sprite that worked its magic on clients... but one must know their changlings because there are good changlings and bad changlings. Did I mention that this counselor failed her licensing exam three times but was kept on with repeated adjustments in her title to avoid legal issues? Why was she kept on? Because she was a minority (that isn't speculation on my part... that was the position of the administration).
The kicker is that any staff member who was part of a racial or ethnic minority or gay, but didn't make that their raison d'etre, could expect to be under constant assault for not being out or not doing there part for minority students.
Being a capable clinician is the last thing in the world that matters in many of these college counseling centers.
Thanks for the insight. IOW's they are counseling centers of victomology and unreality. Furthering the gestalt of 'white' oppression. Our institutions have been infiltrated and overcome by socialist mantra. FDR made a wrong decision in '33.
"they are counseling centers of victomology and unreality. Furthering the gestalt of 'white' oppression"
Luther, that is what is interesting and disturbing. Referring to the "gestalt of 'white' oppression" or, as some people might say, the 'meme' of white oppression, is more to the point than describing these settings as 'anti-white' or anti-male. There were shared illusions that, underneath it all, no one genuinely believed in. These illusions were used for career furtherance, rather than to address injustices, whether real or merely percieved. I never felt that anyone I knew was anti-male, anti-white or anti-straight... as I said, even a gay minority would have been under assault if that individual didn't subscribe to the gestalt or meme of persecution. It was about a self-serving use of a 'gestalt' as you put it. It was all about false virtue and the appearance of virtue for career advancement.
I don't think I knew anyone who was actually a racist, nor did anyone really believe we were dealing with serious racism. And, the feminists were anything but, considering how frequently I'd here remarks like 'I want my turn to stay home and do nothing. In one instance such a remark came from a childless, self-proclaimed, feminist colleague whose husband had never had his turn to stay home, so I don't know why she thought she had a 'turn' to stay home coming to her.
So, when I hear all about the resolve to prevent another Cho Seung-Hui in the future, I have to shake my head and chuckle... if you only knew how every effort in the world to actually make a difference in dealing with some future Cho will be thwarted by incompetence, empty pronouncements and a preoccupation with advancement of administrative careers rather than furtherance of clinical competence to deal with a Cho who is referred for assistance. Leaving aside the question of the counseling center at VA Tech and the victims of Cho Seung Hui for a moment, I am thoroughly convinced from my experience that there are many students who have killed no one else, but who lost their lives in suicides that were absolutely preventable but for the failure of counseling centers that have strayed so far from assisting truly troubled students as opposed to treating trivial and imaginary sociological ailments.
Dr. X. This..."thwarted by incompetence, empty pronouncements and a preoccupation with advancement of administrative careers" reminds me of the 12 years I spent in Federal civil service before quitting out of frustration in not being able to influence the rot. So are we dealing with an insular, self critiquing bureaucracy with no outside checks and balances? IOW's a scenario for blandness and knocking down those who try to rise above it.
Your last sentence is disheartening. Though I know better, yet another example of the breakdown of personal responsibility and the integrity of professions which I hold to a higher standard. I still submit this started a long time ago. The subversion of our values, the stealing of our very language. Orwell was a smart man. Apologies for incoherence, just back from a business trip and my brain is still 'back there.'