Psychology and psychiatry are all too eager to excuse maladaptive behavior lately. Both fields deem it abnormal but then come down hard on anyone who comes down hard on it. They expect everyone to treat all kinds of problematic behavior with sensitivity and care — with care and softness and leniency and indulgence that goes around in wide berths to allow space for those exhibiting it to come to terms with it.
It’s overkill. Tolerating and understanding maladaptive behavior to the effect of treating it is one thing. Playing coy to it, adapting everything around it is another. It enables the problem rather than solve it. It normalizes the abnormality, the disorder, whatever one wants to call the problem, it normalizes it and forces those not exhibiting it to dance to its tune.
And the problem spreads. People are all too eager to use their superwide berths, holding all those who run a tight ship responsible for not being sensitive enough, or understanding enough, often blaming them for the various problems at hand. If a person’s too nervous, everyone ought to walk on eggshells around that person for a while, for as long as it takes, sometimes forever. If a person’s depressed, the same. Telling them to snap out of it is outrageous, even criminal, no matter how long they’ve been in that state, even if they seem to be milking it — not faking it, just squeezing it dry.
The same with a group of people, an organization, even a country. If the people comprising it are failing at a specific task, one is expected to talk in terms of palliating the problem, then solving it, if possible, all the while not offending anyone’s sensitivities. It is preferable, if not mandatory, to adjust everything to fit those who can’t make the grade, often at the detriment of the high standards one needs for the country to fare well. Pandering to shortcomings has become the norm, all in the name of a compassion all too misguided and none too effective, none too compassionate, not in the long run. Debilitating’s more like it. Letting malfunction get away with itself, eroding the foundations of an existence rooted in accomplishment.
It’s happening everywhere, becoming a practise and attitude increasingly common. Pandering to failure in the name of a decency so very flashy and pretentious. Presumptive in some many ways, it undermines strength in character, relying on top-down dependency models to keep things rolling, if that. Health and safety, propriety, thought policing, all for your own good.
As the glass ceiling descends and everyone’s hands are held snuggly throughout the journey, kept warm and wonderful, everyone paying ever more attention to the sick bays than the track ahead, the mission becomes compromised. Life is a constant struggle, a risk, but the risks are averted by pretending the way ahead is all bubblegum and roses. Anything that challenges people’s conceptions of themselves is vilified. Anyone who dares confront those who fall short is a villain. No room for insensitive questions in this day and age. No challenging the afflicted, no pushing them to get them to up their game. The uneducated can’t be held accountable for not knowing better, and neither can the unable. The slow have to be made to feel good about their slowness, team performance be damned. Society be damned. Let the afflicted feel good about anything that troubles them, and never push the envelope were they’re concerned. Always, I mean always go by their rhythms.
Sooner or later, people take note of how things work, this sick-bay obsession, this everyone-slow-down mentality, and make a career out of it, taking advantage of the setup, redefining the world in terms of disorder instead of progress and breakthrough.
And who can blame them? The system affords them the chance to play it, so they play it. They milk it dry.
What it boils down to are responsibility and personal accountability. People talk about them all the time, but dare they truly, truly apply them to real life? Few follow through with the mantra, especially when tough calls need to be made, people held responsible and accountable, truly accountable for their actions, or lack thereof.
In the long run it all boils down to facts, figures. Numbers and data. You can’t hide (from) these things, not even in the name of highfalutin hypocrisy and all the glossy sheen you apply to it. If someone hasn’t done his or her job, he or she ought to be held accountable. If a boss has been abusive to an employee, there ought to be repercussions. If a country is running a deficit for fifty years, constantly going bankrupt, its politicians ought to be held accountable, and so do its people, the very citizenry who voted for the administrations that plundered the country time and time again.
If a party is responsible for systematic warfare or any other form of institutionalized violence, its policies ought to be examined, called out, scrutinized, challenged.
If a people tend to support belligerence as a nation, they ought to be held accountable.
If a people give rise to obese populations, questions need to be asked about the health provisions of their culture, the education of their young, the habits perpetuated in their everyday living. Questions need to be asked, feathers need to be ruffled. The data don’t lie, people can’t be cushioned from the blatantly obvious. Results matters, more than people like to think. If it happened, there’s no whitewashing it, not forever. Failure shows, as does success, the two bringing each other out, the former highlighting the need for the latter, pointing out the ways not to do things. Trial and error and adjustment. One can’t mollycoddle the error without paying a huge price, at least in terms of humanity in general. View the world through a macro lens, encouraging people to put emphasis on what works, is what the game ought to be.
After all, in macro terms, that’s what matters: what works. What survives.
Having said that, people are forever grateful to those able, or willing, to devote their lives to the health sector and its numerous support fields. Humanity, like every intelligent organization worth its salt, needs maintenance and support. Safe areas of unconditional aid. All the help it can get — and provide. Healthcare and social work are very important work, and not everyone can do it. Let those who can perform it, perform it well, making life better for the afflicted.
If only the afflicted would stop setting the bar for the world at large. If only the accomplished weren’t pushed to the side and ignorance favored over intellect and expertise. Mental health, politics, business, family life, belief systems, you name it, if only the afflicted and the uninterested would stop setting the bar in all these areas. If only today’s sensitivities were not applied so neurotically, snagging the keen and able in order to make the unfortunate feel better about themselves. If only the uneducated would stop looking down on the educated. If only dysfunctional states were shown up, called out, and offered incentives to revise their ways and be part of the general mode of accomplishment. If only people didn’t tend to business in ways that created untouchables, privileged or destitute. No one ought to be untouchable. Everyone ought to be accountable for his or her actions, their life choices. If only people did that — hold everyone accountable. If only they did away with snobbery and prejudice, highbrow and cheap alike. If only the term expertise were not used as a derogatory term. If only facts and science were not displaced by rumors and fanfare and patriot-speak, or liberal-speak, or any kind of lingo that puts dogma before substance. The world would be a harsher, more painful, and at the same time more functional place to live in, in the long term.
But it isn’t.
Music to my ears. Makes my mission all the more fun.
Intrigued? Watch this space for more.
From the collection of writings EON: THE ANGRY COMING OF AGE