Saturday, April 16, 2016

Venom, invective, revenge, it leaves scars that cannot be erased

Let's talk about venom, the kind of viciousness, meanness, name calling and empty-headed, brain-dead invective that is flooding the presidential campaign for the presidency of the United States. And the toxicity is clearly not restricted to the political campaign. It jumps out at everyone every day. The tenor of the times is mean-spirited, even at the one-to-one level in commerce, in medicine, in the legal system, and clearly in the political system. Justin Trudeau's sunny ways is to counter-intuitive to the current mood of the culture, as to be able to be rendered at best superficial, and at worst, deceiving and self-serving.
We are living in a time when a statement by an angry teen co-ed who has just experienced the separation of her parents, says to her estranged father, "I know how to hurt you and I am going to do it as much and for as long as I can!" And the statement is evocative of the mood of that individual, but has become the mood of the culture. Hurting another, for the mere sake of the power and the control of the exercise, whether or not the hurting comprises integrity, honesty, or even common sense, is stalking the airwaves, the internet and too many interactions between people who would otherwise be at least civil, and at best, compassionate, and perhaps even a touch forgiving.
Such abuse of power is clearly indicative of a deep and profound sense of powerlessness, a kind of "do it to the other before s/he does it to me" attitude, that has lowered the word and the practice of competition to a new sewer.
Inflamed rhetoric, as the chosen vehicle for the purpose of being "heard" and "heeded" is also counter-intuitive to being heard, respected and considered.
And the question of whether or not the invective is based on facts,  or based on a reasoned inquiry into the motives of the target of the attacks, or based on the national, provincial, local or even familial best interests  is irrelevant, at the moment of the attack.
We have become an individual and a collective attack machine in too many of our public and private interactions, and the collective impact includes a level of alienation, detachment, disaffection, and reciprocal contempt not to mention the impact on the lives of individuals who somehow wear a target on their backs, in the eyes of those seeking such targets.
They could be fat, or misshapen; they could be of a different race or ethnicity; they could be friend of someone whom the attacker does not like; they could be considered "too" whatever happens to be the flavour of the contempt today, too smart, too talkative, too withdrawn, too loud, too argumentative, too talented, too small, too 'out-of-step' with the current vogue, or too rich or too poor....anything so long as they serve the purpose of being "less" than the attacker.
And, lest dear reader, you fall into the slumber that this is just another "pity-party" by another soft liberal who lives in  lala-land, out of touch with the reality of the hard-knocks school of street life, you can waken to the differing truth that our individual and collective "fight" mentality and discourse and attitudes are contributing to our steep rise in health care bills, our steep rise in street and domestic violence, our persistence in deferring to military action as a method of solving disputes, and our insistence on litigating everything from what used to be known as "back-yard" disputes, to consumer rip-offs, to professional malpractice, to small claims court, and to significant and troublesome major litigation, from which process everyone loses, and often a lot.
The under side of the toxic vernacular, and its dominance even in the coffee shop conversations of thousands of adolescents, is that we are demonstrating 'how' it is to be 'successful' in our competitive and unforgiving culture.
We adults 'role model' the kind of words, tone, and attitudes that children learn. The public service message of the father screaming at his young son for drawing on the wall of the house, followed by the same son duplicating his father's tone with his young sister, demonstrates a small and yet useful approach to slowing down the cataract of anger, contempt and the need for inordinate control that paralyses too many situations, and thereby too many relationships.
And to think that the "I know how to hurt you and will do it as much as for as long as I can" attitude can and does live for more than a quarter century in the same now mature adult, only demonstrates not only the obsessive clinging to that attitude but also the complicity of the culture to endorse and to reinforce such an attitude.
I recall vividly, listening to a mother tar her husband with the rhetorical brush, "Your father is no good, never has been and never will be" and lament that crawled across the soft-wood painted floors in a very modest home for  half a century. This vehemence, contempt and obsession for control is a virus against which there is no known remedy, nor even an ameliorative agent....except possibly a consensus that we can all try to amend our brutish capacity when and if we feel it rushing out of our mouths.

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