Voting and Politics with Mental Illness

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I got out and voted this morning.  I didn’t have to fight a long line as I went in the middle of the morning.  I did the online registration earlier this year.  I found it intriguing that in some nations a person is automatically registered to vote when they get their driver’s license.  I saw that some countries have their major elections on the weekend or make the day a national holiday where everything is closed.  Regardless of the results I did my civic duty for now.

I have to admit this was the meanest and nastiest election I can ever remember.  I imagine there were parents explaining to their kids that this wasn’t a typical election cycle.  At least I hope it doesn’t become the new normal.  This has been a real stressful and unsettling election for me.  I have had to increase doses on all my medications just to deal with the anxiety and depression.  I hate how divisive and hateful this election was.  I have had to block friends and even stopped talking to friends and family over this.  I even quit talking to people I agree with.  Many normals were insane about this election.

Too many normal people have for the last eighteen months acted like the election is the only thing that is going on.  Seriously?  I just quit watching the news because that was all that was being reported.  One of the reasons I got to studying science and tech advances on science web pages was I wasn’t hearing about the state of science or technology on the regular news channels.  I also think that science and tech advances will benefit humanity far more than any elected politician.  It’s no comparison.  I think normal people are insane and out of touch with reality paying so much attention to the election.  Most politicians are lawyers and business people by trade, not scientists or engineers.  A politician doesn’t know how to build power plants. A politician can’t figure out how to grow more crops with less water and pesticides.  It wasn’t politicians who figured out how to build houses that won’t fall apart during earthquakes.  We are electing people to represent us, pass laws, and set budgets.  We are not electing Santa Claus who will make everything we desire come true with pixie dust and magic.  We really give politicians too much praise when things go right and too much blame when things go bad.  Too bad there wasn’t a Mt. Rushmore type monument dedicated to inventors, scientists, and humanitarians.  I’d visit a place like that.

In short I’m glad this election is going to be over soon.  Thank God.  I’ve seen enough nastiness to last me several election cycles.  I only hope that 2016 isn’t a preview of future elections.

 

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I’ve Lost Interest In Politics but Gained Interest In Science

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I must be the only man in America who won’t be watching the Presidential Debates tonight.  I’ve had my fill of politics months ago.  I am so tired and frustrated how hateful and divided politics has become.  I can’t even talk about politics with close friends and family any more without feeling frustration.  But politics and sports are all many people I know want to talk about anymore.  There is a lot more going on in the real world than politics and sports.  But it’s the abnormal that gets the most attention.  Few people can throw a football 80 yards or charm thousands of people in a speech.

I readily admit I do not understand neurotypical thinking.  I have spent years trying to figure the average people out and have even point blank asked people why they think the way that they do.  Alas, I haven’t gotten any concrete answers or come to any real conclusions.  I definitely believe the Tommy Lee Jones line from ‘Men In Black’ when he said, “The individual is smart but people are dumb and panicky animals.”  I see this everyday.  I do much better dealing with only one or two people at a time rather than trying to deal with crowds.  I don’t understand why for the last year and a half about all I see on my newsfeed and friends’ Facebook comments have to do with politics.  Some pretty cool stuff has happened in other fields just in that time, namely in science and technology.  But no one likes to discuss any of that.  About the only people I can discuss science with are my parents who had extensive science backgrounds because of working in the medical fields.  Even then I am convinced they don’t like discussing science that much and do it just to humor me.

I have always been interested in science and technology.  I pursued a career in medical research until it became painfully obvious that my mental illness wouldn’t allow me to continue this path.  It helped that I had some good science teachers in school that were willing to put up with my endless questions.  But after spending over a dozen years in the adult world, I painfully realized that most people didn’t have that luxury.  Most people do not see the beauty and wonder of science and the natural world.  I think that if people like this were to take a few evenings to watch some presentations by the late Carl Sagan and Michio Kaku on youtube instead of whatever sports ball game or political news is trending this week, we’d have a much more informed and enthusiastic populace.  We’d also have more interesting people too.  And isn’t being interesting a worthy goal?

Since the fall of communism and the rise of information tech in the early 1990s, we have lived in some really interesting times.  It seems hardly a week goes by anymore that some breakthrough is happening.  Sadly, most people I associate with on a daily basis are blind to these wonders.  And it seems that the few that are paying attention are worried about some dystopian future.  Personally I am very angry with Hollywood and popular culture for selling people these horrible visions of the future.  Visions like that are intellectually lazy and probably dishonest. And it’s not like there isn’t a market for good science fiction that shows a possibly cool future.  Star Trek has been around for fifty years and is going as strong as ever.  People are worried about machines that have no empathy or compassion?  Please, most people I know lack empathy and compassion and our world still works.

I guess in my ranting frustration I have to take heart in the fact that the entire world doesn’t have to be inventors or scientists or artists or humanitarians.  The politicians, freaks, cranks, and creeps may get the lion’s share of the attention from the media.  But it’s the scientists, engineers, health care workers, artists, humanitarians, and incurable dreamers that make living better and more meaningful.  I end this article with a few thoughts from the late Buckminster Fuller about how it often doesn’t take a great multitude or following the crowd to make a positive difference. buckminster-fuller-earn-living-technological-breakthrough

Midnight Rants Against Stupidity

 

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It’s the middle of the night as I write this. I’m going off the regular path and just going to rant for this entry. I just got back home from a midnight deli run so my stomach is full and I am wide awake.  Been seeing a lot of people online and in real life complain lately.  Some people complain about how much their jobs suck.  Some people complain about their marriages or relationships.  Many people complain about politics, especially during this election year.  People are just complaining about the dumbest nonsense but not doing anything to change their situations.

I know people who have so much “stuff” in their houses they accumulated over the years they can barely move or find anything.  They acknowledge they need to get rid of some things.  But they never do.  People complain about how dumb their coworkers are, how unreasonable their customers are, and how corporate policies hinder productivity and suck the life out of them.  But do they ever consider quitting their lousy job and starting their own business?  Of course not.  People complain about their significant others but do they ever consider fixing the relationship or opting out of relationships at least temporarily.  No, not at all.  Some people are even longing for the “good old days” of yesteryear.

For those who long for the past, what parts of the past are to be yearned for?  Do you want to bring back Jim Crow laws and children working in mines and factories to go along with gas costing only ten cents a gallon and most people spending Sundays in church?  Do you think modern medicine is a mess when people die from cancer or heart disease in their sixties or seventies while ignoring that many people died from infectious diseases at much younger ages just a few generations ago?  Most marriages did last for a lifetime in the old days, but most lifetimes didn’t last that long to begin with. They never had the time to grow apart and get divorced.  Many families were mixed in the old days, not from divorce, but from parents dying at young ages.  One of my favorites is modern medications make people sick and are ineffective.  People are living longer than ever in spite higher rates of obesity, largely because of medical advances.  Good old days my foot!  The good old days sucked, especially if you were a woman, racial minority, religious minority, or a child.

As a mentally ill man who has spent many years observing nuerotypical people and the things they do much like a zoologist studying a pack of apes, I’ve come to the conclusion that normal people often act in incredibly stupid ways. What’s even more amazing is that some of these people know these are stupid actions yet keep on doing them anyway. You hate your job, then quit and try something different.  You can’t stand your significant other, drop them and maybe be single for a while.  There’s no law saying you can’t be single.  We’re not taxing bachelors or throwing them in jail.

As far as politics go, if you think your politicians are morons and sell outs to big money interests, then vote for third party unknowns who aren’t taking money from lobbyists.  Or better yet, realize that a politician isn’t going to do anything to enrich your life.  They are just along for the ride. Slavery and serfdom would have never gotten abolished if there wasn’t first grass roots sentiments that thought these needed to go.  Same goes for civil rights. They don’t act unless there is sentiment among the citizens that change is needed.  All politicians can do are pass laws and spend tax money.  Even Hitler and Stalin would have never gotten away with what they did if there weren’t those kinds of sentiments among the populace of their countries to begin with.

Simply put, politicians can’t engineer better computers or design structures that won’t fall apart in earthquakes.  Politicians can’t bring clean drinking water to rural Africa or even inner city America.  Politicians can’t build better infrastructure.  If things are to improve, it’s going to be scientists and engineers who develop better and cheaper ways of doing things.  I would love to live in a world where scientists, engineers, architects, doctors, teachers, etc. are better known than politicians and athletes.  Uber just started putting out self driving taxis this week. The Gaia satellite has identified one billion more stars in our galaxy.  We recently found a possible Earth like planet just a few light years away.  Virtual Reality tech is set to take off big any time now.   Yet all that anyone wants to talk about are athletes who won’t stand up for ‘The Star Spangled Banner’ or whatever unfulfillable campaign promises a politician made when speaking at a union hall this week.  Seriously, normal people priorities suck.  I am glad I am not normal.  After studying normal people for most of my life, I see that they are obsessed with the stupid and mundane and they are really out of touch with what is really going on in the world around them.  I never want to be normal.

How I Gave Up Watching The News And Became A Blogger

My parents are 24 hour news junkies.  Have been ever since we got our first cable tv subscription back in the late 1980s.  Memories of my pre teen years involve seeing the Berlin Wall come down, the First Gulf War updates every evening, and the fall of the Soviet Union.  It didn’t become apparent how ridiculous the idea of paying attention to every little thing that came across CNN (or Constantly Negative News as I think of it now) until the O.J. Simpson trial and the President Clinton impeachment hearings during my teen years.  I saw grown adults give up their lunch hours and heard teachers spend entire class periods rehashing everything that was covered in these news programs.  I paid more attention to the Columbine shootings in April 1999 because the killers were my age and I had friends who were as much outcasts as those guys.  But even that was depressing as it wasn’t like my elders already thought kids and young adults were worthless and bad news.

I finally started to free myself of the drug of 24 hour news in the months after 9/11.  I just got tired of seeing the death and devastation replayed all the time.  I was only starting my mental illness treatment at the time, so I was still mentally fragile in the first place.  To replace my usual news watching, I started reading.  I read many of the classics of literature, some philosophy, much history, quite a bit of economics, and many of the greats of poetry.  I didn’t believe in reading summaries or commentaries because I figured I could understand the masters just fine by myself.  I came to believe that some of the ‘experts’ of academia and culture were often way off when I saw a speaker on C-Span and I could have refuted many of his arguments.  I thought to myself ‘I know as much as this guy speaking and he has an audience.’  Shortly afterward I started putting my thoughts into writing.  This was in 2003 to 2004, so right before blogging and youtube really took off.

After a couple years of writing poems and journals, I sat out to write a novel.  It was loosely based on my experiences at a Christian college and some of the people I knew during those years.  I wrote a novel (and thus crossed off one of the items on my ‘bucket list’).  It was during this time I wrote a letter to the editor of the local newspaper about how many of the myths of mental illness are not true.  I was published as a guest columnist and got some positive response to that essay.  After that I wrote a series of essays concerning my life with a mental illness.  I decided to self publish these and actually sold a few dozen copies.  I self published my novel and some poetry too.  My novel wasn’t very good and neither was the second novel I wrote.  Now I know I can’t do good fiction.  Which is reasonable as I really don’t like reading fiction.  That’s why I concentrate on blogging now.

With the fact I spend much of my time online researching for this blog (and to satisfy my mental curiosity), I do pick up on a lot of what goes on in the world.  Needless to say I pick up on lots of negative news as a byproduct of researching.  But, unlike my parents and most of my friends, I do not agonize over the news.  Case in point, the upcoming elections here in the United States.  There isn’t anything I can’t learn about any of the candidates or major issues I couldn’t learn in a few hours of intense internet research.  I do not need to hear everything said at every speech and rally for a year and a half.  All of that is window dressing and background noise.  I do not need to know every detail about every mass shooting and terrorist attack.  If all I did was listen to bad news, I would have given up hope a long time ago.  Your odds of dying from the flu, or a workplace accident, or heart disease are much higher than dying in a terrorist attack or a plane crash.

I know humans are naturally drawn to bad news because it was a good survival strategy when we were still living in caves during the Ice Ages.  If you missed bad news then, you wound up eaten by a saber tooth cat and you were out of the gene pool. Those old habits are tough to break.  Our species grew up when most of what effecting us was within a day’s walk.  If there was an earthquake or volcanic eruption on the other side of the world, you never knew it.  Now we know every calamity that happens anywhere within moments.  And we respond to it like our caveman ancestors responding to an immediate threat.  That is probably the major source of our present day anxiety.

I try to explain to people the good things going on and I don’t get much of a response.  I also tell them that agonizing and worrying about murder and mayhem not in their hometowns are making them miserable and they can’t do anything about it.  Most people look at me like I’m an idiot for telling them to stop agonizing over the news. I used to love 24 hour news and doom as much as anyone.  But when I stopped to see why most of these dire predictions never came true or were more manageable than previously thought, that’s when I came to realize that most of what we hear in our media is heavily distorted.  It may all be true, but it isn’t the entire truth.  Yes there are mass shootings.  But there are also space probes exploring strange worlds in our solar system.  Yes there is political corruption.  But there is also lots of good works being done by common people everyday.  To quote the classic movie ‘Network’ , “Television is the illusion.  You people are the real thing.”  Once I began to see the illusion for only part of the story, I changed my focus on what was going on bad news wise and started focusing on what was going right.  The best changes in history have always started with small groups of committed individuals who had visions and acted on those visions.  I am trying to debunk many of the myths of mental illness and stir in people more empathy and compassion for the problems of the mentally ill with this blog.  It probably won’t change the world or even make me a dollar of revenue.  But I am just one of many.  I will speak to whomever I can get to listen.  And I will not wallow in sorrow because the news told me there was another mass shooting or my political leaders are corrupt lawbreakers.

Why Can’t You Just Be Normal?

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I admit I have never been what most people would consider normal.  I have been much bigger and physically stronger than most people I know most of my life.  I have usually been one of the smartest people in every group I’ve been part of.  Smarts and strength do not ‘normally’ go together, at least not according to popular stereotype.  I have also always been one of those rare kids who never stopped asking ‘why’ to everything.  I just turned thirty six years old and I still ask ‘why’ to everything just like I did when I was eight years old.

I’m sure most of you who are parents and have dealt with grade school children get asked ‘why’ to everything.  Why is the sky blue?  Why is the grass green?  Why did my dog die?  Why do people fight wars? Why do people dump toxic sludge into the ocean?  And on it goes.  Tragically most people quit asking why entirely about the time they hit puberty and become interested in sex, sports, and popular culture.  I never developed a strong appetite for any of these three aspects of life.  My friends and I were discussing economics, science, and foreign policy when we were thirteen years old, right about the time most of our peers and elders outcasted us.  I think we were outcasted because we didn’t care about the latest episode of ‘Friends’ or ‘The Simpsons’ or how bad the football team lost on Friday night.

My close friends and I were never popular or considered normal, especially in high school.  While most of my rural school was listening to Garth Brooks, Faith Hill, and Alan Jackson, my friends and I were listening to Metallica, AC/DC, Green Day, Marilyn Manson, Pearl Jam, Nirvana, and other hard rock groups that were big in the late 1990s.  People thought it was odd that my best friend was a girl.  Most people figured we were having sex (which we never did) just to wrap their minds around the foreign concept that platonic friendships can exist between teenage boys and teenage girls.

I am not what most people would consider normal, mental illness or not. I never have been normal and I certainly don’t care to start being normal now.  I never want to engage in normal behavior, especially with what I have seen out of normal people just from my previous jobs and some of my normal friends’ Facebook postings.  I care about the plight of the poor.  I also do not envy the wealthy.  I believe climate change is real and we  are contributing to it.  But I also believe we will adapt to climate change, manage it, and even solve it.  Our species has survived small pox epidemics, bubonic plagues, malaria, famines, hundreds of wars, the Dark Ages, and several ice ages with only a pittance of the science and knowledge we have even today.  And our knowledge is only continuing to grow with each passing day.  Science and knowledge are not static, don’t fool yourself.  We have knocked problems down for thousands of years.  We are knocking down problems even as you read these passages.  We will continue to knock problems down.  It is what our species does.  Birds can fly, lions can hunt, fish can breathe underwater, we humans see problems and solve them.  One of the most encouraging things I tell myself everyday is “many people much smarter than me are thinking things up.”

I support renewable energy. I don’t buy the whole “drill baby drill” nonsense, climate change or not. I believe we are and will keep advancing and find far better ways of powering civilization and doing things.  If Henry Ford just listened to public opinion, he’d just sold faster and stronger horses.  If Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla would have just listened to public opinion, we would not have gotten electricity when we did. I also believe we would have never gotten to where we could use renewable energy without using fossil fuels first.  But like the use of whale oil and wax candles, we will move beyond oil to even better energy sources.  I believe we will leave the oil age long before we run out of oil, just like we left the bronze age three thousand years ago and yet we still use copper and tin.

I am not afraid of foreigners and immigrants.  Ninety five percent of planet Earth does not come from America already.  I guarantee you my ancestors from Germany weren’t fluent in English (nor were they doctors or engineers) when they first set foot on Ellis Island.  If anthropologists are correct, we’re all immigrants one way or another.  I don’t watch regular news casts because I am convinced the regular news reports only bad news and only a fraction of what could be reported.  But bad news is reported on so much only because that is what we humans are predisposed to notice.  It’s in our genes.  Our minds can only take in so much information and survival is priority number one of all species.

I believe that decades from now, future generations will be amazed that people used to work in manufacturing, farming, and customer service instead of letting machines and computer programs do most of this repetitive work.  It’s an election year in my country and all sides are talking about bringing back jobs to America.  Most low to mid level manufacturing jobs are never coming back to America.  Many manufacturers in China and other countries where we outsourced our manufacturing are replacing their human workers with machines even as we speak.   And this is before 3D printing becomes mainstream, which it will within ten years. The days of people going straight from high school to a manufacturing job for the next forty five years with a pension, union protection, and insurance are just as dead as the days of the blacksmith and wagon maker.  So also are gone the days of a family with eight kids being able to make a living on 40 acres of farmland.  We simply no longer need ninety percent of our population working in farming or manufacturing like we did during the Industrial Revolution.  And these people had really low standard of living by modern standards anyway.  Hans Rosling gives some pretty good TED talks about how standards of living are rising all over the world, not just in North America and Western Europe.

Change is the only real constant.  Trying to hold onto the old tried and true may be normal but it merely delays the inevitable. The US banned stem cell research several years ago only to see that research go to countries like South Korea and China.  Now that stem cell research can be done without aborted fetuses, the US welcomed it back but will be playing catch up in this field for years to come.  Normal people talk about building walls, closing off the national borders, and isolating.  Yeah, that worked miracles during the Cold War and ancient China.  If normal people would have had all the say, we’d have never gotten rid of slavery, we’d be systematically discriminating against women, religious, and racial minorities far more than we are now, children working in mines and mills would be considered ‘character building’,  we’d still have the divine right of kings and emperors, and we would have never entered the Industrial Revolution, let alone our current Information Revolution.  These same people who fear change and machines taking their jobs don’t seem to be rushing to join Amish communities or throw away their smart phones.  But it’s normal to be selective, have cognitive biases, and to overestimate how great the past was while underestimating the possibility for the future.  Normal is common.  Normal does not change the world, especially not for the better.  Normal is boring.  And dare I say normal sucks.

 

Why I Hate Politics

Another thing my schizophrenic mind hates is politics. I will not under any circumstances discuss my opinions about politics with anyone outside of a couple family members and my two best friends.  For one, I’m open to the possibility I could be way off.  Two, I consciously know I am only one vote among millions so I don’t feel like I am completely in charge of the whole political process.  I don’t have delusions of grandeur in that regard.  And third, I have nothing but complete loathing and absolute hatred for how continuous and nasty the whole topic has become in recent years even among close friends.  And every time I turn on my tv or log onto Facebook, that’s the main thing I see on the news or in my newsfeed.  I have unfollowed dozens of friends and family members because I don’t want to hear about politics anymore.  I unfollowed people I agree with even.  I don’t want to hear about anyone’s politics any more than an atheist wants to hear about your relationship with God.  I unfollowed these friends and avoid news channels because I don’t need that level of confirmation bias and headaches.  No, I don’t have it all figured out even though I am 35 years old.  I missed that memo that said I had to have all my opinions and beliefs for life formed by age 21.  I’m open to changing my beliefs.  I don’t identify myself with how I voted in the last election.  And I am absolutely sickened by how no one wants to compromise on anything and how much everyone fights over the pettiest nonsense.  Politics is a religion for far too many people.  I am more than my vote.  I am more than my opinions.  And I will be glad when the mass insanity of the election is over.  I have enough stress and tension in my schizophrenic mind.  I don’t need to deal with nonsense that I as one person can’t do anything about.  I’m convinced that normal people are more insane than I am, at least when it comes to politics.

New Normal verses Old Normal

 

When I was growing up as a precocious child in the rural corn belt of Nebraska, I was frequently asked “Why can’t you be normal”.  My classmates, the adults in my life, and even my own family asked me this frequently. I didn’t have the foresight or the courage then to ask “What defines normal” or even “Who defines normal”.

Looking back on it years later I know I never would have gotten any kind of direct answer simply because what qualifies as normal keeps changing.  In 1750 it was normal for two out of three children born in London, England to die before their fifth birthday.  Now in the developed world (and increasingly so in the developing nations) infant mortality is rare.  It is so rare now that if most of us were to look back five or six generations in our family tree, we would find that our most of our ancestors had more dead children than most of us have children or siblings.  That’s what breakthroughs in medical science can do.  As recently as my parent’s generation, most people were married in their early to mid twenties and had children within a few years.  Now it is quite common for people of my generation to not marry until their thirties or even not marry at all.  Back when my parents were in their twenties, if you weren’t married before thirty you were thought insane or gay.  Now the stigmas on both homosexuality and lifelong bachelorhood are in retreat.  Instances like these create new normals out of old normals that no longer worked.

There are things that go on now most people take for granted that may be looked out in horror by future generations.  Even though wars haven’t really been fought between developed nations since World War II, I can imagine a future where people will look back at their ancestors and wonder how we justified ourselves in fighting wars and proxy wars that went on for years.  Perhaps committing any kind of violence against other people will someday be viewed with the same horror we in 2016 view slavery, inquisitions, and wars of territory expansion.  I can hope, can’t I?  Perhaps in future years it will seem absurd for people to hate others based on their political views.  I can only hope so, otherwise I am forever condemned having to listen to people bicker back on forth about political beliefs on Facebook and Youtube when all I really want to do is chat with a few friends and watch a few videos.  I hope our obsession and splitting hairs over political beliefs will someday seem as absurd as Catholics and Protestants fighting during the Renaissance is to our 21st century sensibilities.  Besides it’s not like politicians ever invented any labor saving devices, cured any deadly diseases, did any serious scientific research, or thought up better and less cruel ways of living.  At most, they provided some funding and got out of the scientists and engineers ways.  Many of the most influential and beneficial people who made a difference in history never held a public office, won a battle, or sat on a throne.  Remember that the next time you take your political beliefs seriously.

Less dogmatic and hateful attitudes about political beliefs would be nice.  What would be even nicer is less stigma and discrimination against those with mental health issues.  Seems to me that having mental illness is one of those few things many people don’t feel bad at all about stigmatizing.  It is essentially stigma’s final frontier.  Every week it seems there are crime drama shows where the accused perpetrator is mentally ill or an introverted loner who doesn’t fit in.  It also seems too common someone with a mental illness committing a violent crime gets far more attention than homeless mentally ill people being beaten by cops or gangs of ‘concerned citizens.’  Funding for mental hospitals has been dramatically cut over the years, often leaving the most afflicted to either the street, prison, or dead.  It seems that prisons have become de facto mental health hospitals for a sizable portion of the mentally ill population.  I know that the stats are a few years old in the link.  But I have little reason to believe that the situation for mentally ill individuals in prisons has gotten much better in recent years.  The treatment of seriously mentally ill individuals, at least in my country, is barbaric and insane.  What did you think was going to happen when funding for mental hospitals was cut?  Did you think the problems of the mentally ill would magically vanish once the hospitals were no longer well funded?  Or did you think mentally ill people like myself are making our illnesses up and don’t need help?  There should be no wonder why I was so quick to self commit myself on two separate occasions.  There should be no wonder why I want to change my medications even after a few mini breakdowns.  I don’t want to wind up in prison or dead for the crime of having a psychotic breakdown in front of the wrong person.  You won’t prosecute the handfuls of crooked bankers who triggered the Great Recession but you will throw thousands of mentally ill people in jail because you don’t know what else to do with them?  Way to stay classy. This is certainly one old normal that is in dire need of a quick death and being replaced by a new normal of more understanding, compassion, and better treatments.  And yes, we can find the funding to do this transition if we care enough to do so.

Speaking of practices some currently on the fringes of normal society abhor, maybe even the age old practice of killing animals for food will seem barbaric to future generations.  If lab grown meat gains traction in future years it could.  Don’t be so quick to scoff.  In 1900, who would have thought Henry Ford and his insane motorized carriage would put the draft horse out of business within several years?  Or who would have thought in 1850 that John Rockefeller would find great and numerous uses for a scummy and sludgy nuisance called petroleum?  These two by themselves got rid of old normals and created a new normal.  The internet is a key example of a new normal.  If I was born even fifteen years earlier I would have never been doing this blog.  Who knows what new normals are on their way?  Stay tuned my friends.  Things are going to be getting more interesting than they already are.

Revisiting the ‘Good Ol’ Days’ (They weren’t all that good)

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For years, even before I became mentally ill, I’ve been listening to people complain about how bad the state of the world is and how everything was better in the ‘good ol’ days.’  I’ve done blog posts on it in the past with Why I Am Grateful of Tech And Science Advances, Technology Advances and U.S. Presidents, and Reflections On Being a Recovering Doom Junkie. I don’t believe the nonsense that the past was some golden age were everyone was respectful, no one was stupid, the world was at peace, and wealth gaps between rich and poor didn’t exist.  Folks, the past wasn’t that great for the common man on the street. It was even worse for the common woman in most cases.  In many past civilizations,as many as half the children born didn’t live to see adulthood. ‘Utopia’ was a work of 16th century fiction by Thomas More, not a real place in some to be recaptured past. It’s as if everyone thinks that the entire world was like Mayberry in ‘The Andy Griffith Show’ until about the last forty, thirty, twenty years.  But seriously, is our collective amnesia so bad that we think that the times we grew up in were nothing but peaceful and prosperous?  Are we so forgetful that we think that it was only the current younger generation that invented promiscuous sex?  No town in America (or anywhere else) was ever like Mayberry.I have never seen African Americans on Andy Griffith.  Being a town in the southern U.S. in the late 1950s, surely there would have been some.  No towns, besides maybe a few small farming villages in Nebraska and Kansas, were ever that white bread.  The 1950s were an age of purity and good values?  Please.  Does the Korean War, duck and cover drills, The Great Chinese Famine, McCarthyism, the quiz show scandals, western movies and tv shows that were (by today’s standards) blatantly bigoted towards Native Americans, and the Beat Generation culture of excessive drugs and sex as written about by Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, etc. ring a bell?  Times weren’t more moral and more peaceful in the old days, they were merely less televised and exposed.

As far as having more moral and competent leaders in the old days, think again.  People today think it was shameful that President Clinton was getting sex from one of his interns or President Bush exaggerating to get a war in Iraq, etc.  But politicians and rulers have always fornicated and lied to their subjects.  Thomas Jefferson probably had an affair with at least one of his slaves.  Charlemagne had at least four wives and was almost constantly at war during the 8th and 9th centuries.  Even the Bible said King Solomon of Israel had seven hundred wives and yet praised him for being a man of great wisdom.  And this was before Viagra and Barry White albums. Abraham Lincoln, as a young man, accepted a challenge to a duel and set the rules of the contest to the death so that he would have won had not his friends talked him out of it. Pope Urban II exaggerated the abuse Christians received at the hands of the Turks to garner support for the First Crusade.  William Randolph Hearst was spinning news stories and outright lying long before anyone even thought of inventing cable news or alternative media.  As far as businesses like Microsoft, Facebook, Monsanto, BP, Google (who made most of the research for my blogs possible), Wal-Mart, Goldman Sachs, Home Depot, the defense contractors, etc. being favorite whipping boys for anyone against the abuses that can be perpetrated by big companies, then heaven help you if you ever knew about Standard Oil, U.S. Steel, the East India Company, the Potosi Silver Mines, etc.  So not even was our business practices always ‘an honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work.’  These are but a few examples to show that, in many ways, things were actually worse and less civil in the past then they are today.

Be careful about wishing for life to be like it was in the past.  Because it often wasn’t that good at all, unless you were a lord, noble, sultan, robber baron, or chieftain.  Yet in many ways I live better today, have better access to health care, better access to information, better entertainment, better fitting clothing, and better sanitation than the richest men of one hundred years ago and better than most middle class people in the 1960s.  It’s getting late as I write this so I should think about going to bed.  Yep, tonight I’m sleeping on a spring mattress (something no king or sultan of Medieval times had) wearing comfortable sleep clothes made of manufactured fabrics and processes that didn’t exist two hundred years ago, and with the warmth of central heating (something not even the richest man in the world had in 1900).  Yes life is good.  And should you try to think that things can’t possibly get any better or that we are on ‘the eve of destruction’, well every generation has thought it was the last one or that these were for sure ‘the end times.’

 

 

Why I Blog The Way I Do, Part 2

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This entry is a continuation of a previous entry, ‘Why I Blog The Way I Do, Part One‘.  In this post I’ll attempt to explain some more on why I include the things I do and why there are other things I don’t.

I admit I don’t include much scientific information simply because I am not a scientist by nature or training.  I have nothing against science.  I just don’t believe I’m familiar with it enough to explain the methods behind it.  I guess it might be in my personal makeup to accept that if I know something works just from my own personal experience, I don’t necessarily discount that if I don’t truly know how it works.  For someone with a science background, this might seem backwards as a scientist will want to know the ‘how’ and ‘why’ behind the ‘effect’.  As I don’t have a strong background in science, I simply allow those who do to figure out the how and the why.  I am certainly grateful to those with scientific backgrounds who can easily find such things out.

A second topic I don’t get into is the politics of mental illness treatments/healthcare/etc.  This is not the blog for this.  Yes, I have my opinions like anyone else.  Politics, at least in my home country, has become nothing but divisive and contentious.  I don’t like the arguing and viciousness that goes on even in personal living, as I’ve outlined in my post ‘Arguing and My Schizophrenic Mind.’  It saddens me greatly that it is practically impossible anymore to  disagree with someone without the discussion turning personal and combative.  I certainly cannot follow a political discussion, even on topics near and dear to me.  I have enough division and contention going on in my schizophrenic mind.  I have no desire to have an external source add to it.

I also refuse to get into the whole discussion on whether to medicate or not.  All I can say is some people with a mental illness diagnosis can do well without anti-psychotic and anti-depressant medications.  Others, like myself, are unable to.  I know from personal experience that I can do well for awhile going meds free, but there will be serious problems after awhile if I try to make going med free permanently.  I am not enough of an expert to tell anyone whether or not they should medicate.  That is something that can be answered only a personal level from personal experience.

Going back to the subject of the science behind mental health treatments, I do know that new advances are being made quite often.  As I don’t have a scientific background, I am not qualified to comment on which ones will or will not lead to major breakthroughs in treatment options.  It is a possibility that medications may not be even needed for the treatment of mental illness for anyone if the right breakthroughs are made.  It certainly is exciting times we are in for these advances.

While I at least attempt to keep an open mind, there are simply some things I won’t comment on in this blog.  I don’t feel qualified enough to post on the details of scientific breakthroughs.  I don’t think I’m qualified to state whether or not someone should medicate or not as I am convinced that has to be a personal decision based on individual circumstances.  I won’t comment on any politics of mental health or anything else.  There are plenty of blogs that do that already.  I doubt that my not stating my political thoughts on anything will be missed.

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