Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Questions for young people

Hi again my friends. Always thinking of you and wishing things could have gone differently, that your parents and teachers (and government 'leaders') could have allowed you to inherit more goodness, and less of the trash, depravity and errors that they have left you to cope with and hopefully start to clean up. I really wish all this crap had not fell upon you, but it was the previous two generations choices.

Anyway, rather than a case study, I thought of two questions for you to ponder. These questions sum up a lot of what I've written about in developing faith and developing reasoning skills.

Question One:

Which is better: If you know someone is doing something wrong or dangerous, do you speak to them about it and risk "hurting their feelings," "being judgmental," or "sounding like a dork," OR do you stay silent for either the above reasons or with thinly disguised glee, as you hope that something bad happens to them and they "get what they deserve?" Your parents and teachers by far selected the second choice.

Question Two:

Which is better: To go to a highly qualified doctor, counselor or spiritual director when one ails, or to insist that you only go to someone who has had the same illness as you? In other words, if you have a broken leg, refuse to allow any doctor or nurse who has not had a broken limb treat you? If you are an addict, insist only on ex-addicts? If you don't believe in God, go to someone else who does not believe in God? If you have swine flu, hold out, don't go to the ER, unless you know the doctors there have had the swine flu themselves? If you fall off a mountain and crush your bones, with your last breath insist that they phone ahead to the hospital and make sure that only mountain climbing members are on staff? Your parents and teachers by far selected the second choice.

Artists and writers looking for good ideas, you can select one of those scenarios and write a short story, or produce a work of art, contrasting the two alternative choices in some specific setting. Or even just write the outline or sketch of how it would develop. Like the cornucopia exercise, if you feel some sort of urge to "defend" the second choice, that's OK, it's free speech after all (LOL!) but use it as a thinking detox tool and ask yourself, why you have the urge to defend the second choice...and see if that is some latent programming by those who firmly embrace that view for kooky reasons.

Let's use the silly example of the fallen mountain climber. You might have an inkling of doubt as you kind of mock the second scenario, thinking, "Well, might not mountain climbing doctors have 'better understanding' of mountain fall injuries?" Test that theory. As the dude or dudette is laying there crushed on the mountain, you might think, well, only mountain climbers are coming to rescue him or her, no? So why not mountain climbing doctors at the hospital? Oh, I see. So if a non-mountain climbing pilot flies his non-mountain climbing rescue team to the injured person and winches them down (hence not needing mountain climbing skills) and then lifts the person in a basket (hence not needing mountain climbing skills), I guess you'd recommend the injured person wave off the helicopter since they aren't "authentic mountain climbers" and "would not understand?" So if you start to fall or seep into that trap use this tip that I've shown you, which is to compare that form of thinking to various scenarios of reality. No one in their right mind would wave away a faster helicopter rescue because the rescuers don't "share the same experience" and have the same "cred" as the injured.

Then, think ahead to the hospital. OK, suppose the injured argues that only a mountain climbing doctor should treat him or her, because that doctor would "better understand" the patient and his or her "reality." Oooooook, so let's think of a reality based scenario. Maybe that patients refuses treatment by a non-mountain climbing doctor, not realizing that this doctor, however, has gone to earthquake areas and set many fractured bones with greater expertise than anyone else. The injured dummy would just have turned down someone with vast and rare experience in exactly their injury, just because the patient thinks only a carbon copy of him or herself can treat him or her. Duh.

I know this is a ridiculous example but it's not all that far from the truth, unfortunately. I see that a lot in medicine, most obviously in the areas of mental health, but oddly enough, also in the areas of disease and physical ailments. It's scary, the mindset that I am pointing out here, and the cause of much of the alienation and gloominess in society today. When people are constantly categorizing themselves and others based on large traits, small traits and/or imaginary traits, they inevitably alienate themselves and others. This, by the way, is one reason why cults isolate members so much. It's both elitism and fear of alternate doctrines, but underlying all of it is an obsessive compulsive disorder to categorize people. Young people, instead of growing up in groovy times where all are equal (as all the major faiths teach), you've grown up in times that categorize to such an insane degree that no one really ever really belongs in any group, and you see that with tragic results in the school systems, in gangs, and in prejudice.

Another example of what I mean you can test yourself with by thinking how like a kind of code language or short hand you immediately know "what kind of person" someone is by what brand of clothes they wear. That is far different from when I grew up, when it was really "cool clothes" or "not cool clothes," or "has money for clothes" or "does not have money for clothes." You young people actually know a lot about each other if you just hear a few brand labels about what the other person is wearing. For example, in my day we didn't have punks who dressed punk. In my day we had punks, some of whom could afford cool clothes. Do you see what I mean? And we had cool kids who brought very cheap no label jeans because they just refused to spend the money on a label brand. But today, you have so much ridiculous categorizing that all it does is depress, promote anxiety, alienate and ultimately provide very bad medicine, rather than unifying and promoting genuine individuality. It's scary what is happening, even though I use benign and silly examples here.

I want to keep this thoughtful but relatively light, so I won't go off into more doomsday hand wringing, but I'm counting on you young people to be strong enough to take a look at what I am saying and start to ask yourselves some very serious questions about what attitudes you've been taught are really solid and worthy, and what is bogus crap.