Assailant.

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.

A Year of Panic: Dogmatic Panic’s 2020

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.