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Cross Posted at MN Progressive Project

     It seems like, with all our social ills, we are 90% focused on the "thing" and 10% focused on the complex human behavior behind the thing. I get it. The human condition is messy. It's treatable but not curable. There will never be a perfect solution, nor should there be. There are only best efforts and hope. So we focus on the thing.

     We talk little of why young women have unwanted pregnancies, but blast abortion bullhorns. We talk very little about the human misery that leads to drugs, but wage war on the drugs themselves. And Guns. We should absolutely be talking about guns, but it should be 10% of the discussion. We will never move forward as long as we are too afraid to address the incurable human condition, and try and treat our ailing society.

    When the human body is given nutrients that are against its nature, it gets sick. Too much sugar, too much fat, too much alcohol and the body rejects it. Our society is the same way. Human contact and human interaction are our fruits and vegetables. Collaboration and shared endeavors are our meat and potatoes. We are sick because we are being fed a steady diet of high octane isolation that is tearing us apart.

     We just went through an entire political campaign that was predicated on isolating the human being within our society. The very idea that "we" might have built something together was mocked and ridiculed.

    Recognizing those who have helped you on your path is good for the human soul, and it makes the whole community stronger.  We have not only lost that, but we have made needing help sub-human. Is it no wonder that fewer and fewer folks are reaching out for help when we are taught by an entire political movement that reaching out for help is weakness?

    This radical independence is the antithesis of what we need. It is paradoxically making us weak and tearing us apart. It is not strength. It is weakness and fear. We need to make it okay again to ask for help. Not just because others need help, but because it brings us together. It makes us stronger. It knits us together.

     Ironically, these "real" Americans that call for such radical independence neglect the real growth of this country. We we founded on radical interdependence. I will say that again. This country was founded on radical interdependence.*

     The first westerners to come to this country banded together on ships. As a colony. Not as some swashbuckling explorer. They were families banded together. The westward expansion was not accomplished by lone mountain men skinning beaver pelts. The west was won on wagon trains, with men, women, and children banding together in community. Our independence was gained when men and women banded together to tell King George to go to hell. WWII was won when everyone sacrificed together with war bonds, rationing, and fighting to tell Hitler to go to hell.

     Anything great we have ever done has been in community. It is essential to human health and balance. There is an epic assault on this as exemplified by the conservative and Tea Party movement. It's not just wrong. It goes against human evolution and our own history.

     There is a lot of talk lately about the decline and lack of treatment of mental health in this country. This is critical to finding a solution to our violent tendencies. I would also ask that you ponder something. What if the sudden epidemic of psychotically mentally ill is synonymous with loneliness.  Loneliness on a small scale, human level, of course, but more so loneliness as a society. Isolation on a grand scale. Isolation and loneliness that is sickening our American body.

      I truly believe the way forward is to address what is making us sick more than the end tools of our destruction. We are a radically interdependent people.  Unless you believe Daniel Boone killed himself a bear when he was only three, the rugged individual myth has to go. I believe it is what is tearing us apart.

*I apologize in advance for all of the oppressed groups that my narrative glosses over. Sadly, they probably had a more healthy societal balance than we do, and we destroyed them.

Originally posted to AlecMN on Fri Dec 21, 2012 at 05:41 PM PST.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  If they haven't got the thing then they can't use (12+ / 0-)

    it to act out thier mental or emotional or political or sexual problems...  When we prevent people from bashing thier neighbor over the head for whatever reason, people get more willing to listen to reason. As long as we leave that door open as a way for individuals to deal with whatever problems they have we will never deal with the underlying causes. First thing you gotta do is disarm people and then they can talk otherwise it is a lot of threats and yelling and screaming and dying. Never gonna cure us of being human but maybe we can teach people how to handle disappointment and rage and feelings of being marginalized. The wild west ideal has got to go because it IS NOT the most vicious, the biggest, the meanest, most self-centered that will bring us to a better world or at least to survive ourselves in the one we are frigging up. They are dealing with life as if it begins and ends with thier birth and thier death.

    Fear is the Mind Killer...

    by boophus on Fri Dec 21, 2012 at 05:53:45 PM PST

    •  They do just grab something else. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BlackSheep1, FrankRose

      It's an illness or a failure of anger management.

      It is not a sane thought to initiate the scene of the death of another. It is NOT SANE.

      Hey, when I was helping an ex-gf with her masters in medieval art history, I saw a LOT of art depicting all sorts of cruel bloody actions, that had nothing NOTHING to do with guns. Seriously, some of the crap they did back then was way way WAY worse than all of the combined nastiness that was done at Abu Ghraib. And it was all done without guns. Not one firearm of any sort had any role.

      It's not the thing that is the downfall, it is when a head gets twisted so badly that it formulates insane ideas.

      We trust sane people with guns, with surface to surface missiles, with aircraft carriers, with tanks and with nuclear weapons. If the person is sane, you could trust that person with the button of doomsday planetary extermination itself.

      But I remember high school chemistry class, and we all know that some things like mixing bleach and ammonia cause gravely dangerous reactions. When a person isn't sane, you can't trust them with anything, not even the stuff under the kitchen sink or the cleaning closet.

      And that's the crucial point... It's safe to trust a sane person with the keys to nuclear weapons, but it's not safe to trust an insane person with the stuff in the kitchen.

      Let's fix the people. Let's heal the people.

  •  It's true that America is strongest as "We" (8+ / 0-)

    but we've got a culture fixated on the "I". The sports hero -- Michael Jordan -- who's more important than the team. OK, bad example -- he may actually have been the exception. But when Neil Armstrong stood on the Moon that wasn't because he decided to go for a summer drive by himself. Thousands of men and women and billions of tax payer dollars put him there. I remember that day, the pride of being an American was palpable. It wasn't "Neil beat the Russians to the Moon" it was "We beat 'em". You're right, that spirit seems to be largely gone. Even the Olympic athletes are individuals as opposed to national representatives.

    To me progress is not so much a goal as it is a process and I believe it will not follow a straight course. Remember, the drops of water that form the river may not take the shortest path but they will still reach the ocean.

    by ontheleftcoast on Fri Dec 21, 2012 at 05:56:09 PM PST

  •  Places like Australia , England and Israel (9+ / 0-)
    but it should be 10% of the discussion.
    did more than say its 10% .

    "Drop the name-calling." Meteor Blades 2/4/11

    by indycam on Fri Dec 21, 2012 at 06:10:37 PM PST

  •  They Aren't Trying to Accomplish What They Say (6+ / 0-)

    they are.

    The other side, the party of "I" and independence and libertarianism, are not trying to govern the nation better, help the people more, build a more fruitful economy.

    They want the wealth to go to the aristocrats and the power to go to authories. They have no interest --meaning stake, meaning any reason at all to care-- in the nation.

    Everything they say to further those ends are either lies or distractions. Not myths we share among ourselves, lies generated and, after focus-testing, distributed by the nobility and their staffs.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Fri Dec 21, 2012 at 06:14:43 PM PST

  •  Holistic approach, in other words? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dewley notid, radarlady

    Knitting together an atomized society could reduce gun violence, other violence, non-violent crime, mental illness, and pathological politics.

    One of the oddest features of the contemporary US is that progressives are the ones who want a cohesive society. It used to be that liberals were about individual freedom and conservatives were about Boy Scouts/churches/bowling leagues and other forms of social capital (admittedly at the price of conformism).

    •  Are you sure? (0+ / 0-)
      It used to be that liberals were about individual freedom and conservatives were about Boy Scouts/churches/bowling leagues and other forms of social capital (admittedly at the price of conformism).
      Can you provide the basis for the part about Liberals. I am familiar with many different but related Liberal philosophies and I haven't come across that one yet.
  •  I don't feel very optimistic that we, as a country (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    radarlady, soarbird

    can do much of anything.

    The things you suggest require a long, sustained effort and as a people we're incapable. There have been countless numbers of programs and policies put forth, just in my lifetime, to deal with societal ills and I can't think of even one that's lasted more than a few years.

    Collectively, we have the attention span of gnats and though a few activists will always stay engaged for the long haul, most people won't. The government never has. Administrations change, public opinion changes and public money flows to the cause du jour, with the sole exception of those things that are important to the 1%. They always manage to find politicians to give them what they want. The rest of us haggle over an ever-decreasing pot of money and there's never enough to do even a fraction of what's needed.

    Maybe I'm just too cynical but given that we can't even reach an agreement that allows our government to function, I'll believe when I see it.

    "The human eye is a wonderful device. With a little effort, it can fail to see even the most glaring injustice." Richard K. Morgan

    by sceptical observer on Fri Dec 21, 2012 at 07:09:31 PM PST

    •  But your perspective isn't happy making! (0+ / 0-)

      We can't have that!  IMO Pandora's Box has been open for way too long (thousands of years, actually, or perhaps going all the way back to our large brain mutation) and we're faced with a permanent clusterfuck that's getting worse.  The optimists will have none of this perspective, of course, and most people either don't care, or are totally unequipped to have an opinion on the larger situation.  Our very planet is dying, and all we can say is, "Here, have another bandaid."  If that.

  •  Great diary. (5+ / 0-)

    Thank you. We need to multitask. Guns are important, and have to be a top priority;  but too many people I speak to today admit, if I ask the right questions (it doesn't take much, because its just below the surface), they're lonely.

    Research proves year to year and decade to decade that Americans keep having fewer close  friends that we did previously. Making and keeping friends takes a lot if work these days. We're more mobile as a society overall. With layoffs and foreclosures, we are mobile even when we don't want to be. We're stressed, overworked, on the clock even when we get home, busy with kids who have exponentially more homework than we ever did.

    But in the place of real connection, we've substituted virtual friendship. So we stand surrounded by humans and all of us ignoring each other, on our phones and laptops,  deep within digital concert halls, or removed from reality as we play games .

    I do worry there is no going back.

    © grover


    So if you get hit by a bus tonight, would you be satisfied with how you spent today, your last day on earth? Live like tomorrow is never guaranteed, because it's not. -- Me.

    by grover on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 12:52:17 AM PST

  •  I couldn't agree more. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ybruti

    This is the time of year when we get multiple showing's of the old movie "It's a wonderful life" which is a celebration of family and community victory over evil.

    However, if updated for the changes in our society, I'm not sure how the same plot would play out...for many of the reasons above.   But, I have hope in that direction and...a bit opposed to Grover's comment...the digital age has some good points.  Think how the "Flush Rush" campaign got going and is working....how the boycott of Darden Restaurants and Papa John seems to be working.  

    Still, we're terribly fractured, and until we get rid of places like Fox News and Rush and Hannity and the NRA and actually have fact-based, for the benefit of WE THE PEOPLE, media and goverment, we're going to have pockets of idiocy fighting pockets of compassion and community.    

    Ah well...this is complex...but the net is, to me, if we are good neighbors (physically and digitally) and our neighbors are good too, we can succeed.  But there will always be a Mr. Potter...  

    The longer I live, the clearer I perceive how unmatchable a compliment one pays when he says of a man "he has the courage to utter his convictions." Mark Twain

    by Persiflage on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 05:05:11 AM PST

  •  The Pursuit of Loneliness. (5+ / 0-)

    I read a book in college, as part of a religion course, that made several of the same points as you do... our tendency to avoid the root causes of our problems, the destructive effects of the go-it-alone approach and the societally sickening effects of isolation and loneliness.

    The Pursuit of Loneliness by Philip E. Slater.

    Highly recommended.

    Here is a review.

  •  One caveat (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dave in Northridge, Urban Owl, caul

    tipped and reced but we have an emergency right now and until we get the gun situation under control it needs a priority much higher than 10%.

    "When I see I am nothing, that is wisdom. When I see I am everything, that is love. My life is a movement between these two." - Nisargadatta Maharaj.

    by mkor7 on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 07:21:04 AM PST

    •  You are probably right (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mkor7

      Hell, I would be happy if it were 50-50, 0r 30-70, or reversed to 70-30. The 10% was a literary device used to illustrate how freaking out of balance we are. AND that the progressive hyper focus on the "thing" is EXACTLY what the loneliness brigade wants.

  •  As usual, you throw Jamestown to the wind (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    caul

    No, this country was only PARTLY settled by people in families (Pennsylvania and north) and south of that, not only were they not families but they broke up the families of the people they brought over to enslave.

    How does that destabilize your narrative? By making the reader wonder about how much responsibility the rich people (remember the 1%?) in this interdependent society feel they have to those less fortunate than they are.

    -7.75, -8.10; Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? . . . and respect the dignity of every human being.

    by Dave in Northridge on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 08:04:28 AM PST

    •  Yep, you are right (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dewley notid, fuzzyguy

      It is a globalized generalization of a big picture view of how society works that glosses over all the communities we steamrolled in the process. I tried to address that in the apology I provided at the end. Yes we have lots of horrific warts along with triumphs. That has to be overcome and admitted to as we'll. So, yep. You're right too.

    •  Dave in Northridge: Let's not forget (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      caul, Dave in Northridge

      the http://www.scholastic.com/....

      he history of Spain's missions in the American South and Southwest reveals much about Spain's strategy, contributions, and failures in these regions. The expeditions of Francisco Vázquez de Coronado (1540 42) and Juan de Oñate (1598) convinced Spanish authorities that no wealthy Indian empires like that of the Aztecs were to be found north of Mexico. Consequently the Spanish came to view the northern frontier of their empire as a defensive barrier and as a place where pagan souls might be saved. In what are now the states of Florida, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California, missions were founded to propagate the doctrines of the Roman Catholic church. To protect these missions as well as the mines and ranches of Mexico from attack from the north, the Spanish established presidios fortified garrisons of troops.

      Franciscan priests founded a series of missions in Florida after 1573, mainly along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. The first missions in New Mexico were established by friars accompanying Oñate's expedition of 1598; during the next 100 years Franciscan priests founded more than 40 additional missions, most of them along the Rio Grande. Especially influential was Father Alonso de Benavides, who directed the founding of 10 missions between 1625 and 1629 and thereafter promoted them ably in Spain. By 1680 missions had been established among most of the New Mexican Indians.

      More here:
       Missions in Mexico and the Southwest, and more details on missions in California.

      LBJ, Lady Bird, Anne Richards, Barbara Jordan, Sully Sullenberger, Ike, Drew Brees, Molly Ivins --Texas is no Bush league! -7.50,-5.59

      by BlackSheep1 on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 04:44:39 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I am all for big picture (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Urban Owl, caul

    but this goes way to far. I mean:

    And Guns. We should absolutely be talking about guns, but it should be 10% of the discussion. We will never move forward as long as we are too afraid to address the incurable human condition, and try and treat our ailing society.
    What societal condition would not be made infinitely better by making access to guns extremely difficult? - None, zero, nada, zilch.

    You may think that you are joining all the dots but that is only part of the process - the important part is selecting the points where a difference can be made and access to guns is one of those points.

    •  What societal condition would NOT be made better (0+ / 0-)

      by making access to guns extremely difficult?

      I can think of several. But I'm a firearms owner and a hunter and a target shooter. I'm also something of an amateur historian and antiquarian, and am fascinated by re-enactors.

      LBJ, Lady Bird, Anne Richards, Barbara Jordan, Sully Sullenberger, Ike, Drew Brees, Molly Ivins --Texas is no Bush league! -7.50,-5.59

      by BlackSheep1 on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 05:00:37 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Massage the percentages. I don't mind (0+ / 0-)

      Hell, I would be happy if it were 50-50, 0r 30-70, or reversed to 70-30. The 10% was a literary device used to illustrate how freaking out of balance we are. AND that the progressive hyper focus on the "thing" is EXACTLY what the loneliness brigade wants.

  •  A worthy subject. (0+ / 0-)

    Thanks for writing this.  I know a lot about isolation and loneliness myself.  On the other side of the same coin:  solitude, time to ponder, time to dig deep.  This is the kind of subject worth pondering.  In terms of fixing anything, I don't know what if anything we're capable of.  This species seems pretty far gone to me.  Whatever the case may be, I appreciate your point of view and hope you'll write more.  

  •  Reaching out for help isn't just considered a (0+ / 0-)

    weakness, beyond stigmatizing those who need help, this culture punishes anyone who would dare ask for anything, even if that "thing" whatever it is, is theirs by contract-- written or implied.

    That can only mean one thing. It's  thing we all know and acknowledge at times. The Lions share of our hard work is being hoarded by a few, while the rest of us work to the bone and suffer and sacrifice.

    And now that this precedent has been set, this warped system has taught anyone below that hoarding percentage at the top to fight to the death for whatever is left over.

    Instead of banding together, we turn on one another like starving animals.

    Thank you for writing this diary.

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