Adulting, Ideas and Musings

Delusions of Goodness

Hidden Violence. Violence that might not seem like violence. Violence that might seem righteous. I’ve been thinking about this a lot. Okay, I’ve been obsessed with it, mainly because I’ve seen so much of it.

Interesting Times

There is an old Chinese curse, “May you live in interesting times.” I think that applies to the reality of today. We have someone in the White House that defies all that have come before. Some are excited about it, hoping that he’ll bring order and stability. They hope he’ll eradicate corruption and “Make America Great” again.

Other’s think he’s evil incarnate and that he’ll end up destroying us all.

Either way, people have become polarized. I mean, we are naturally polarizing critters, but now it’s even more so. To the point that many people have completely lost their minds.

I’m going to be talking very generally here, and about what I’ve mainly seen.

For the Trump supporters, the attitude tends to be “Our candidate won! Why are you acting so crazy about it?” when referring to many of the liberals. This attitude is the same one every time the Republican candidate has won. It’s the idea of a competition. One wins, the other loses. Be a good winner and be a good loser.

What the Trump supporters don’t understand is that this time, the winner is seen as evil by the other side. Believing you are fighting evil, well, as a few Trump supporters have found out, means getting a beating just for voting the way they did. Even though being able to vote for whoever you want is a democratic right. Or getting death threats, as Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert, did.

Adding the idea of ‘evil’ into the mix opens doors for judgment, self-righteousness, and vlolence.

There are many doors to violence.

Tendency Toward Violence

I believe that humans want to be good.

I believe that humans want to be perceived as being good.

But I don’t think humans are naturally good.

Whenever someone commits violence, I think it’s rare to have them admit, “yeah, I wanted to bash his head in.” No. There is always a reason, a justification. Being bad is never the perpetrators fault, in their own eyes, and sometimes in the court’s eyes.

A spouse batters their mate or children and what do you hear? “They made me angry.” “They made me do it.” “They know not to do that because I’ll …” “It’s for their own good.” “I had a hard day at work.” “I had a hard childhood.” The list goes on and on…

An altercation happens and someone dies. “I had to kill him.” “It was me or him.” “She wouldn’t stop.” “There was nothing else I could do.”

I knew one guy who confessed to me of raging and throwing things around, scaring his kids. He tried very hard to get me to believe that it didn’t matter because kids are resilient. That it doesn’t really affect them. The fact that he confessed it to me told me he knew different.

My own father keeps telling me that what happened to me in childhood should not affect me at all. That I’m completely responsible for myself. And I understand why he wants me to accept that.

For all the justification and self-righteousness being thrown around, humans are some pretty violent critters. And very, very, self-deluded.

Delusions

There are a lot of delusions being passed around, people and communities. I get it. If others think X, maybe I should think X. 1 million people believing Y, well Y must be true.

I took Logic in college, but I was in the Philosophy and Religion department at UNO and it was required. I don’t think it was required in any other major. It should be.

Here are some of the main delusions I’ve been witness to:

  • I feel like a victim, and this feeling must come from something outside me
  • I’m a woman, or any other sub-group, therefore I’m automatically less powerful than any white male
  • There are times that I have no choice, even if it seems like I’ve given consent
  • I’m the center of the Universe, therefore everything relates to me
  • It’s other people’s responsibility to validate my existence
  • Any action is justified if it’s coming from my sense of self-righteousness
  • I’m so helpless that the disparity between me and another is so great, that any level of force is reasonable
  • All members of a group are…<insert stereotype here>
  • Those who are in power have all
  • I have the right, and duty, to monitor and correct others
  • Other people know more than me
  • So many people believe Y, it must be true

I’m sure there are many more…

Every single one of these delusions leads people to believe less of themselves. They end up with less self-esteem or may require outside validation. They ignore the fact that every person on this planet is different, with their own trials, beliefs, and strengths.

They are all as bad as any other stereotype, or all-or-nothing belief system. And they are just as damaging, not just to the one’s holding these beliefs, but also to those being held responsible for them.

I feel like a victim, and this feeling must come from something outside me

What happens here is that someone feels like a victim, or have been told they’re a victim, or are surrounded by others who feel like victims, they assume the feeling is coming from something outside of themselves and go looking for proof.

As most of us know, whatever you’re looking for, you’ll find it.

This person will look for anything, anything to validate the feeling. It doesn’t matter whether it was intended or not.  Touch on the arm, must be rape! Have a gas problem and making faces? It’s commentary on the other person. It doesn’t matter. If they can’t find it, they will make it up.

The sibling of this one is “I’m the center of the Universe, therefore everything relates to me.”

Reality: 99.99% of what is going on around us is NOT about us. It’s about them. Considering we all live in our own universe (see quantum physics), they might not even notice we were even there! All those idiots marching down the street running into each other? Yeah, some are assholes, the others just didn’t see you. 

If you really want to be a victim, be a victim, but don’t bother other people. It doesn’t have anything to do with them.

A woman, or a member of any other sub-group, is automatically less powerful than any white male

There is the tendency to look at any member of a disenfranchised group and assume they have no power. Or that they don’t understand. Or that they need to be treated with kid gloves.

The sibling of this one is “Those who are in power have all.”

Remember Tailhook? I was in the Navy during that time. Because of Tailhook, there was a lot of assumptions about how women were treated in the Navy. So, they sent out a team to validate this. (See the section on victims above). They came to our Security Department. Over 300 men and maybe 25 women. They gathered us women together and interviewed us. Did we think we were treated unfairly? A resounding YES! Did we think it had to do with us being women? A resounding NO! They were sticking it to us all!

Needless to say, the interviewers were pretty frustrated. Their assumption was faulty. The truth was that every single woman in our group was a powerhouse. Respected members of their teams. Their assumption was offensive.

I have seen wives abuse husbands, kids kill parents, and employees blackmail employers. I’ve known men who were enslaved by their wives and severely depressed. I’ve known wives whose husbands were so scared to lose their place as the breadwinner, they wouldn’t let them go to college.

I know men and women who have been bullied, and men and women who have bullied. I know successful people of every gender, race, orientation, and religion. I know people who live on the edge of disaster of every gender, race, orientation, and religion.

I’ve known people who abuse their friends saying it’s for their own good. I’ve known people who felt it was appropriate to “stand up” for the disenfranchised because “they don’t know any better.”

It is ALL bullshit!

Is it a White Male world? In many ways, yes. But most white men wouldn’t qualify to play their games. Being a “white male” isn’t enough. In reality, being “male” isn’t enough. (see the Security Department above) Lumping them all together into the “asshole” group, and then attacking them,  is missing the mark.

And it’s insulting. It’s demeaning. And it shows the lack of understanding of how the world really works.

There are times that I have no choice, even if it seems like I’ve consented

Consent is a big issue these days. I’ve heard people say you should literally ask for consent every time you hug your friend, even if you’ve hugged them for 30 years. Personally, if I had to do that, they wouldn’t be my friend but that’s something else…

No, this is about giving consent against your will.

What happens is that you have a person who is of high rank/status. They ask for something. Often sex. Now, the person who’s asked can say “no”, but because the person is high status, they don’t feel comfortable saying “no”, so they say “yes” and suffer in silence. Only to then accuse them of rape later, even though they gave consent.

Most organizations have a lot of fraternization rules because they know it’s an issue. You can’t know someone is really saying “yes” if they might be afraid for their job. A boss who holds your job over your head, or a dictator who holds your life over your head, yeah, this is consent against your will.

But a comedian? Or the owner of the corner bar? Or the rich guy who lives in the penthouse? What could they possibly have over you? If there is no danger to you, your “yes” is a “yes”!

I guess we have to get it in writing.

It’s other people’s responsibility to validate my existence

This is very much on the line of victim mentality but goes much further. You end up with people saying things like:

“If there is anyone enslaved in the whole world, I can never be happy.”

“If there is anything on my Crackbook feed that offends me, then I am invalidated.”

Then, when they see something, they go crazy with the shaming and blaming and attacking. Trolling, it is called.

Guess what, go that path and you’re invalidated. If you base your sense of self-worth on the actions of everyone in the whole world, you will never have any sense of self-worth. And it’s not the world’s fault. We’re all a bunch of dumbasses. Especially me. I don’t want to be responsible for your sense of self-worth. I have enough of my own problems.

These people are people to avoid, in my book. I don’t have any extra fucks to give them. (Yes, I’m very angry about this one.)

I’m so helpless that the disparity between me and another is so great, that any level of force is reasonable

This is related to “All members of a group are…<insert stereotype here>”. It goes both ways. People just other groups and people judge the group they are in. All women are helpless. Incorrect. All white men are strong assholes. Incorrect. I need to stand up for the disenfranchised because they are so low that they’re ignorant. Incorrect. And yes, I’ve seen this last one. Especially in comedy clubs. The comedian will be making jokes about everyone and someone will “stick up” for a demographic. Yet, that demographic is in the audience laughing. They didn’t need protection. They are powerful on their own.

Going the other way, if you convince yourself that you are utterly and permanently helpless, and that the person over there has it all, is all powerful, it’s very easy to justify anything.

But this is a lie. This is not a third world where you’re trying to depose a dictator. The people who get attacked by this delusion are usually just another dumbass like the rest of us. They make mistakes, have issues and needs, and are usually a lot more vulnerable than the attackers will let themselves admit to.

There was this group I was hanging with sometimes. Well they got it into their heads that women are all helpless and they went after one of the men in the group. Well, this particular man is one of the neediest of the men in the group. He needed the group, and would do anything to stay with it. He didn’t kill anyone. He didn’t rape anyone. No one went to the hospital. But over 100 women got together to attack him. Started a Crackbook group with the sole purpose of raging at him. They tried to banish him. They drew up “documents” against him.

Since I’m not a joiner, I came very late to the party. After it was done, actually. I didn’t know it was going on and when I found out I lost my mind. Started speaking out against it. The man actually called me to try and convince me it was okay. To my ears, and I helped train Security in handling domestic disturbances, he sounded like an abused spouse, making excuses. Someone else called to make her case, she sounded like someone trapped in victim mentality and using it as an excuse to hurt someone.

They tried to get me to come to a party. I couldn’t do it. I love the guy, but I can’t go to a party and watch him grovel at the feet of those who abused him. It’s too much to ask of me.

They let this delusion lead them in terrible action. There is no justification that could validate 100 women on one guy. The truth is that they wanted to hurt a man. They accomplished their goal. Congratulations!

I have the right, and duty, to monitor and correct others

This is the human tendency to assume that we know “the truth” and that if someone doesn’t understand it and believe it, they are wrong. It’s our responsibility to set them straight.

This is a delusion. The fact that you think that tells the world you don’t squat. That impulse you’re feeling? It’s just ego. You want to be right and make others wrong.

You want to make others wrong. This is a violent act.

Other people know more than me

For the first 40 years of my life, I assumed that everyone was above me. That they knew more than me. That they understood more than me. That they were better than me. This led to an impulse to learn. To learn a lot. Even though I knew that it was a delusion, I still can’t stop myself taking classes and reading.

The problem with thinking in this way is that we tend to go along with the flow. If we think others know more that us, we may find ourselves falling in line. This is especially true if we need to belong to the group.

There was a study where they would bring in a person and have them identify the color of a ball. With the person were other participants (all actually part of the program). They all would mis-identify the color of the ball. The question was what would the person do in this circumstance. Everyone else said the color of the ball is red when it’s clearly blue. Almost everyone said it was red as well.

They don’t know more than us. Even the experts have blind spots. It’s dangerous to give ourselves up to groupthink. Personally, I think that’s what happened with the 100 women above. I think a lot of them just went with it. All you need is one corrupt leader and you have a mob.

So many people believe Y, it must be true

This is related to other people knowing more than me. It’s the adage “where there’s smoke, there must be fire.” And yet, once people have fallen into groupthink, the mob can do devastating damage. Most of which is not justified.

It’s important to have your own mind. If you give yourself up to the mob, you are just as guilty as any of them if you destroy others.

Any action is justified if it’s coming from my sense of self-righteousness

Add all of this together and you end up with the majority of human violence. Almost all of it comes from some sort of delusion. Add in some creative justification, and any action can be seen as just by the person committing it.

I struggle because I’m aware of my own dark side. It tells me “Karin, as long as you can justify it, you can do anything you want!” This is dangerous because I have a lot of anger toward others who delude themselves into violence. It would be too easy to target them. And feel justified about it. Because I do. I think they deserve anything I choose to do to them.

But I know that this is my delusion. So, instead I write a short script. Kidnap my victim, torture them, and then kill them. My hero is the anti-hero. Her victims a composite of all those who have hurt me or those I love, just because they can’t be honest with themselves and admit it.

We want to hurt others. We love the violence. Human beings are the most violent critters on this earth. All the bullshit about humans going toward goodness is that, bullshit. We just find more elaborate justifications to act out our natural violent selves.

Because we do want to be good.

We want to be seen as good.

And that’s the biggest delusion of them all because…

We are not good.

How can anyone move towards goodness, when they can’t see themselves clearly? When they’re in a state of delusion? The move toward goodness is a courageous act. Rate of failure is high. Odds of being attacked by the mob are great. Loneliness is a given. It’s too easy to give in.

I find the impulse to give in very strong. What is your impulse?

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