Lately my YouTube history has been peppered with recorded police interrogations of murderers and lesser criminals. I’m creeped out by people who watch too many true crime shows because they seem to be a bit unhinged themselves, but I find interrogations to be a more genuine study of psychology.
Criminal behavior hasn’t been a subject I’ve been particularly fascinated by in my lifetime. Both the criminal acts themselves and the mainstream public’s response to them are depressing, and I try not to subject myself to information that makes me feel bitter. For example, knowing what we know about how psychopathologies develop, if you can’t fathom feeling sympathy for even the most hardened criminal in the world, you simply aren’t a very serious person.
It goes without saying that we all have agency and when we commit a heinous act we need to be held accountable by our given society, but to pretend criminals are just “bad people” is to guarantee that more and more criminals will be produced. Treating a disease is always more difficult than treating its symptoms so it’s no surprise that our solution in America is to put people in prison and talk about “monsters” and “scum” on social media, while ignoring the drug addicted thieves that we are raising in our own homes.
Emotionally, I still find it difficult to not see both pedophiles and domestic abusers as “other” but logically I know that it’s not as though they simply materialized out of a puff of smoke. That whole agapic love thing is stretched to its limit in these cases. However, only by knowing and confronting such individuals can we ever begin to rescue their victims pre-emptively and, maybe in a few dozen centuries, eliminate the psychopathologies entirely.
Previously, I wrote about how 2020 wasn’t nearly as bad a year as the zeitgeist would have us believe. Our past twelve months have been the best year of my life, unequivocally. While many have certainly suffered job losses, death, and pending homelessness, I don’t believe this is nearly as widespread a problem as is sometimes claimed on television. Certainly the poorest of us have been affected the most, but they are affected the most by literally everything that happens, so we can’t exactly claim to have pity for them while sitting warm and snug behind our desks.
Much of the last year confirmed what the most cynical among us have said for decades: America isn’t that great and it’s already crested the hill of its twilight age. What should have been a minor illness that was easily contained by the more successful people’s of the world has devastated our economy and shone a spotlight upon the depravity of our political and social landscapes. I use the phrase decidedly because shining a spotlight on something does well to illuminate one specific problem while leaving millions of others in the dark. As such, I’ve never been less convinced that we’ll actually do anything about any of these problems. In fact, there’s basically no point to list any of them.
John Vervaeke, a cognitive neuroscience professor at University of Toronto, has for the past couple years been recording and publishing a series of lectures titled Awakening from the Meaning Crisis which I strongly urge everyone reading this to check out. It illustrates everything I’ve ever talked about throughout my life in a better way than I could ever hope to.
I truly hate the phenomenon in which every year, all news and social media content has to point out how horrible the year has been. If all you can focus on is the negative aspects of the last 365 days, the events of the year aren’t the problem.
Don’t get me wrong, 2020 wasn’t the best year of my life but it was one of the better ones. I understand I’m not one of the millions of people who lost their jobs either temporarily or permanently. I didn’t lose a business or have to drop out of school (or even change my academic plan whatsoever although I did willingly). Even then… if that stuff did happen, it happened. Bitching about it is not a replacement for reflection and action. That attitude is why so many people who get hit with these situations have no savings or plan to fall back on. Sure, we can talk about how they’re victims of circumstance or society, but give me a break. You can’t complain about how horrible your life is for 20 years and expect it to get better.
When people see me reading a book, more often than not a science or technical book, they ask if it’s for “school” (which school would require the reading of 12 Rules for Life, I am unsure). I agree, consciously I thought out of ease, but it occurred to me that I’m shying away from embarrassment I feel for being “caught reading”. Why? Does one need to be in college to read anything other than a Dan Patterson novel? (I’ve never read a Dan Patterson novel. They could be quite good, I only offer them as pulp trash due to the opinions of others).
Lately I’ve been able to finally feel a sense of gratitude for the challenges I face at work and in my personal life. Less so in school because I still feel stupid and unworthy whenever I don’t get something correct on my first attempt, but I’m working on that. Still, this is a radical change in my attitude. I now see life’s problems as opportunities to practice being the kind of man I wish to become. Every time something outrageous and childish happens at work I think “this is the perfect opportunity for me to practice not engaging in gossip or drama”… and it works! I feel a lot better about myself at the end of the day.
Hospitals are all stretched thin, I’m told, but I have applied to volunteer at three different ones now and haven’t gotten a call from any of them. Perhaps the people responsible for calling applicants have COVID.
Today we are reminded of all we are thankful for in life, in remembrance of that fateful day in 1625 when Abraham Lincoln brought fine Italian turkey to the starving savages of the Americas and forever changed the course of history. My family has forgone a mass gathering so it’ll just be my mother, alcoholic brother, and I this year. Oh joyous day.