Archive for February, 2009

The Masks of Hypocrisy or: What Planet is Cheney Living On, Anyway?

Sunday, February 8th, 2009

How dare ex-VP Cheney even use the phrase the “civil rights of U.S. citizens.” I got really angry when I heard his hypocrisy this week! It’s people with his attitude of entitlement that have led to the mess the United States is in! Having just finished an entire book detailing the violation of rights by local government officials, I couldn’t help wondering where the hell he has been lately! 

And I’m going to use his individual name throughout this article because I don’t want to fall into the trap of labeling and then assuming everybody in that category is bad. This isn’t about political affiliation, gender, ethnicity, or religion. It is about a type of pathology. Whatever your background or characteristics, grabbing for power and money at other people’s expense is wrong! Period! Wrong! 

True patriotism means working to keep this country living up to its stated ideals of human dignity, fair play, and civil rights. Walk your talk, Cheney! Because I don’t see you doing anything to help improve the widespread violation of human rights committed on everyday citizens. 

This isn’t about Gitmo. It’s about you and me! I don’t see any evidence that Cheney or his cronies encouraged an atmosphere of “to serve and protect” the U.S. public. In fact, quite the opposite! Corruption and destruction of the average citizen has run rampant. Just look at the headlines! And it’s because of the lies, hypocrisy, and attitude of ‘”I’m always right; you’re always wrong.” 

What rights do U.S. citizens still have? The Attorney General, the SED, the FDA –all government bureaucracies don’t investigate “individual cases” of misconduct. That way they don’t have to discover or face a pattern of widespread malfeasance! It took ten years for the whistleblower on Madoff’s case to even be heard!  

How are you and I, the average citizens, supposed to have the resources or information to prove a “pattern of misconduct” when we don’t even have the resources to understand our individual case?!!! So people die of salmonella, lose their life savings, send their kids to battlefields, and are shot, tortured, or destroyed by their own government officials.  

In the minds of people like Cheney, it appears to be all right to bully and lie to U.S. citizens.  As long as he had money and power, he turns away from the “trivial” concerns of ordinary citizens. Under the guise of “national security” he has helped to undermine the very foundations of American ideals. I guess he thinks we’re too stupid to understand the facts. I guess he thinks that our concerns about paying bills, living in a safe and clean neighborhood, and being treated equitably by our legal system are too small for people like him to worry about.  

I have two sons in the Army. I’ve worked with law enforcement, and with the Army. I thought we were all defending the principle of human dignity and the sanctity of human life. Is Cheney the kind of person who thinks that just pasting a label on someone gives you the right to ignore due process and humane behavior?   

He reminds me of the callous people who invented a particularly dumb slogan back in the 60’s. They’d say “America: love it or leave it!” What happened to the idea that loving your country meant staying to correct injustice.  Jack Kennedy and Martin Luther King didn’t just give up and leave. Neither did Gandhi. Why then should we even consider not helping to improve the country we love? What can you do for your country? Improve it!  

I’m trying to do psychotherapy to help people make better choices, live happier and healthier, and maintain caring connections with others. I help them to not feel helpless and victimized. I want people in positions of authority should be better role models. Is that too much to ask? I’m tired of false patriotism masquerading with hypocrisy and lies. I’m against corruption. I think that makes me more patriotic, not less. 

If one of my patients was paranoid and greedy, lied to his family, and ignored all rational values, we’d consider him mentally disordered. If a family ignored budget constraints and insulted and assaulted their neighbors, if they spent their neighbors’ money on their own bad behavior, we’d consider them disgraceful. Why then do so many bureaucracies get to behave this badly? 

It’s hard not to feel discouraged. But each of us, with our individual actions and individual voices, can add up to a powerful force. We must. Because change and repair are necessary, and constructive disagreement is the only way we are going to have a future. But let’s put a time limit on the discussions, and get some positive actions started. Please? Soon?

Characters Welcome?

Monday, February 2nd, 2009

I admit it: this is not one of my more thoughtful pieces. It’s more my expression of confusion! At the age of 60, I sometimes get accused of being “out of it” when it comes to popular culture. Well, my recent attempts to catch up to popular culture have not necessarily made me feel any less out of it!  

Oh yes, I’ve found some television shows that I like. I’ve even found one stations that advertises “characters welcome.” I just don’t think they’ve been to my neighborhood. Characters around here are frowned on. If you don’t fit into a mold, you’re shunned. Sometimes it’s done politely and hypocritically, sometimes not. But you’re definitely treated rather like one of the non-pod people in “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.”  

The problem with not fitting into any mold is that the specifications of those molds are usually decided by people on the basis of little-to-no information. Someone takes a look at you and decides “you’re not one of us” without a second thought. It’s not just me I’m talking about. I hear stories from friends and clients all the time. And they don’t just mention skin color. One brow piercing or turquoise hair streak is enough to elicit a pointing and screaming that outdoes the body snatcher movie! 

I remember when the only quirky people on television were William Petersen (CSI) and Vincent D’Onofrio (Criminal Intent). (I know ‘cause I had a crush on both of them.) Now there’s quirky people everywhere, many of them women! There’s an Israeli ex-Mosad agent who mangles every metaphor, brilliant flaky artists with strong scientific skills, lab rats who dress Goth, forensic anthropologists with esoteric specialties, – most of them with high IQ’s who don’t get popular culture any more than I do. (Whoops! I mean “did.”)  

There are people almost too young to be working and people old enough to remember cultural references I can remember! There are also FBI agents who remind me of people with whom I’ve worked. Yes, there’s vain, shallow people, but also surprisingly complex people. Sometimes they can be obnoxious but they are very human. They care about humans and puzzling human behavior. They like to argue with those who think differently for the fun of learning. They are, all in all, very interesting. They are not one-dimensional, and they can’t be defined by one physical characteristic. 

But I still don’t get some things. I don’t understand jokes about “shoes.” I find “dishing” distasteful and boring, and the word “fashionista” makes me cringe. And there’s some shows I don’t understand any more than I understand people laughing over old Seinfeld episodes. 

Once at a mental health training I made the mistake of asking why people would watch a show after work that showed people behaving so badly that you wouldn’t want to work with them during the day. A female psychologist (yes, a psychologist, and one older than I am!) tartly responded that I was a “freak” from “another planet.” But that only made me feel more shunned and didn’t help my understanding of the issue at all.

If the people on that show were considered “normal,” it just didn’t seem like good advertising for being “normal.” Rudeness, hypocrisy, and human venom just didn’t seem funny to me. They still don’t.  

So I think I’ll stick with today’s characters. And if you know a place where quirky and interesting people are not shunned, please let me know. I’d love to move there! Meanwhile, I have some friends nearby who today are celebrating Groundhog Day, Imbolc, and Dia e la Candelaria. I think I’ll head off to celebrate with all of them! Fooey on “normal”!