Monday, March 20, 2017

How The Lack Of Meaning In One Area Of Your Life...

...Can lead to a perfect storm of meaning in everywhere else.

The story Digg had featured on a General's efforts to combat suicide in his command triggered another odd connection thread for me this morning.

The particulars here were that, because of his own issues with depression, he put real empathy into trying to find solutions at the army base he commanded. They turned out to be common sense solutions, from an empathy, treatment, sort of view, and, wonder of wonders, they helped quite a bit. They also, unfortunately, did not fit the Army's preconceptions of "garbage in, garbage out," problematice source material, as the real culprit. The general in question moved on, and the base went back to suicides as usual.

I bring this up in the context of meaning because a couple of contrasts popped up in my head when reading the suicide story.

On the one hand, one of the reasons people both love, and hate war, is that it is a great clarifier of connection to a purpose. Said another way, it is very difficult to participate in such directed violence with a lot distractions, or BS in your head. Focus comes down to the bone very quickly, as does your reliance on the people around you. Whereupon you form bonds of involvement with others, as well as with the behaviors required for the situation at hand, that one simply cannot get in ordinary civilian life, save for a very few professions; like cops, or firemen, or miners in a cave in, or rough necks on a sea rig in trouble, etc.

On the other hand, of course, participating in a war based both on lies, and on the results of religious extremism, itself the result of too many ways of seeing the world, all roiled up, and in each other's faces, literally, and figuratively, around the globe, and throughout the info sphere, makes taking the larger view of the violence as connected to anything really meaningful especially difficult. After all, we keep killing more and more, while nothing seems to change much, save for just how obviously empty the platitudes have become.

Connection is certainly essential in meaning, but that does not guarantee that the meaning thus supplied is always a pleasant one. One would suppose that it is sometimes yes, when you survive in battle, and sometimes no, depending on all of the collateral damage caused; something, unfortunately, you wouldn't expect gets processed until after action. Having a larger point, though, that you could draw upon, intimately involved, would logically be expected to help.

That I think, as well as the prolonged ship time for many of them, coming back home to become civil again, allowed a lot of GIs during WW2 to get through some much needed, personality reintegration processing, that needed to be done before they interacted with family and friends. The horror of what they had to participate in, seen in the context of the greater horror what they stopped, was something that gave you at least a decent chance to do a work around. And they would be coming home to a country that had reason to feel good about itself, as well as good feeling for the men and women who had to put a lot of their humanity on hold, in the thick of it, until the job was done. After all, the country was working again big time, and had just led something very, very important.

What we have now, however, in ordinary economic life, is a far cry from the economic life of the folks that, either went back to school on the GI bill, or, already having critical skills, went back to work to create the good life the thirties had made seem like a pipe dream. And to give us an even bigger head of steam, we would be the manufacturing titans to lead the world back to commercial prosperity. Why else would a guy like Kennedy have proclaimed that metaphorically shooting for the stars was something you did precisely because it was hard.

With everybody else getting back on board the competitive train, and the amounts of money that suddenly started flowing in all directions at once, and so much more efficiently now that it moved with the speed of electrons, competition itself became the new battle ground, with every country a theatre of operations for either the exploitation of resources with which to make things (but mostly to make more power), or the operations for dominance of markets to sell things.

In this marketing becomes everything. Not only in getting people to buy your brand in end use items, but also your brand in ideas, because we had to begin competing there as well. And the big problem there was that, even within a single country, there was great diversion of opinions that could be created simply because of the divergent interests of power players in different industry sectors, or even the same sectors, in some instances. And so our war of priorities began within our own borders, as well as the Cold War, because there was another player perceived as a different economic operating system. One that could somehow seduce whole populations of underdeveloped nations.

My point in going through all of this is to give you context for why we now have a commercialist, consumer society, so vapid, and empty of connected living. And how could it be otherwise when you work just to consume. And even worse, your contribution to that work is automatically valued less on an ongoing basis because the only thing that really has value in work any more is its efficiency. And here efficiency is defined as who, or what, can do more for less time and money. The who, or what, who can be retooled ever more rapidly as well, because constant disruption has become the competitive soup de jour.

Worse still is that we have become economic participants looked upon with increasing disdain by those with the real power; the masses who barely retain relevancy as consumers (if only the robots could take that over too), much less than those who deserve only the most manipulated of information flows. A situation that, more and more, makes "need to know" a right of providence for them, and an automatic distrust for us.

So now you have articles (posted here) on how white men aren't marrying anymore because they feel no worth. Couples having relationship problems because one or the other can't help carry the financial load. And kids killing themselves before they even get to this level of being unmoored because they have started out without value; were raised by people without value, and can see nothing on the horizon, save the next new hallucinatory experience ride, for which would give them the means to create their own reference point; their own sense of purposeful agency (with its unique blend of heritage and mentoring) that would just know automatically what would be the next rewarding thing to do.

In all of this can you not see why there are a lot of factors that would allow for the onset of perfect meaning storms? Storms of inner pointlessness that would have, could only have, one useful conclusion? One could imagine it, in fact, as another potential cascade event, waiting for each and everyone of us. Waiting for that one triggering realization that a specific aspect of now has set in motion. And the one new bit of meaninglessness suddenly puts stress on all of the other weak points. Weak points people have a way of glossing over. Ignoring. Or just burying under one stimulant, or sedative experience after another, that one can ingest, or physically climb into. A process that's good for the economy now ironically, but only up to a point.

Meaninglessness, and the manipulation of meaning. Pointless production and consumption to make bigger numbers in order to do more pointless production and consumption. And then you add  the delinquent notice (served in large part by Mother Nature) on all of the delayed costs, piled up over nearly 100 years of kicking such things down the road. This does not make for a situation filled with lots of advantageous options. And so I must advocate an option that does, on the whole of it, suck big time. Even I don't want to have to actually do this, but I just don't see a better alternative. And unless you think Capitalism can be fixed, the onus is on you to come up with a better alternative. The sooner the better.

The General Who Went to War On Suicide

A commander with a history of depression created a unique way to keep his soldiers from killing themselves. The Army had other ideas.
March 17, 2017

No comments:

Post a Comment