All people “are born free, but everywhere they are in chains.” —Jean-Jacques Rousseau
When I first made my documentary about homelessness in America, I was surprised by the resistance and outright hostility I received from some people. “Why do you want to make a film about the homeless?! Don’t you know those people are all drug addicts, lazy, don’t want to work, etc.?!” Yep, peeps were mad at me. Even the peeps who work and play with the homeless thought I was being pretty darned naive to think that there were homeless people deserving our compassion. Oh yeah, and even some homeless people ranted, “Those homeless people are lazy and don’t want to work, etc.” Yep, even the homeless hate OTHER homeless people. Talk about brainwashing of the masses!
But wait a minute. You’re homeless, so how can you say that about homeless people? Are you lazy? Do you not want to work?
“Oh no, I’m an exception to the rule. I’m trying to find a job. I’m trying to get out of this situation. But those OTHER homeless people…”
Yeah, people. Okay, let’s all be haters, shall we? Let’s all accept the idea that it’s the other guy/gal who’s the problem. In fact, the “problem” couldn’t possibly be us, could it?
And then I had a stalker. Yep, creepazoid is probably reading this right now, and I probably shouldn’t acknowledge the creature’s existence. But guess what? This creep was causing trouble for Occupy members in my area. And guess what else? Many of them think this person was planted by the feds to hassle the Occupy political activists. I read about another person who caused trouble for Occupiers in another part of the country, and the description of that person was similar. Hmm… You know, there’s a conspiracy theory out there that says that the F B I finds mentally people, people who are sociopaths or narcissists in particular, and sends them to political groups such as Occupy to spy on them and cause trouble for them. Nah, our government would never do anything so sinister. COINTELPRO never really happened. Political activists don’t get hassled by the government or by people sent by the government to stalk and harass them. How could I have even suggested such a silly idea? That kind of stuff happens in communist countries like Vietnam, for example. Wouldn’t happen here. It’s perfectly safe to get involved in politics here in the US because this is a “free” country where people are encouraged to get involved, right? We live in a free country where people are allowed to protest and we can address our government with grievances whenever we like with no repercussions whatsoever. Nothing bad ever happened to Abbie Hoffman, John Lennon, Paul Robeson, Phil Ochs, or Martin Luther King, right? The US government was happy to hear of their concerns, and they all led happy, comfortable lives knowing that they were well-loved and well-accepted by our country’s leaders who considered them to be patriots fighting against corruption and for the rights of the average Joe and Jane. One of the founders of Code Pink was put on a criminal database and not allowed to travel to Canada but that had nothing to do with her political activism. It was just an odd coincidence. Amy Goodman was arrested and one of her producers beaten up by the police but that had nothing to do with her exercising her freedom of speech as a journalist as a political activist. We live in such a great country and are very, very lucky to have freedom of speech. In fact, no one from the government is reading this blog. The FBI/NSA/DHS (and whoever else…heck, I can’t keep up with all the “security” agencies that exist these days) aren’t interested in reading this blog at all. So I’m not worried. Of course, if I became successful and started getting 1000 readers a day… Well, then my opinions might be somewhat influential. But even then, I wouldn’t be hassled by anyone in the government, or any crazy person sent by the government, because we live in a free society where everyone is allowed to express his/her opinions openly and freely… Look at Michael Hastings, for example. He was successful. Oh, sorry, I guess he’s not the best example. But you know what I’m trying to say. The United States is the greatest country in the world. The greatest country ever. (Is that what you wanted me to write? Okay, I typed it up. It’s about to be published on my blog as soon as I hit “publish.” Okay, so you can put your guns down now. Please don’t arrest me, I wrote what you told me to…)
Ehem. (Sorry, had to clear my throat again. Allergies acting up again. Rather windy today. Something smells funny too.)
Okay, I’ll stop. But since encountering the creature mentioned above, I’ve had trouble with (among other things–I won’t mention all of it here) all my web sites, e-mail accounts and internet activity. Who knew that one entity, one single person, could cause so much grief for another human being? Amazing how diabolical and destructive a sociopath can be. Most of us are not sociopaths, so we have trouble understanding this mentality, but, unfortunately, it is out there. Sociopaths are people who are motivated solely by their own self interest. Knowing that they’ve hurt other people, perhaps destroyed entire lives, does nothing for them. They have no conscience. However, if you tell them that if they do something good, it will benefit them in some way, then they’ll do something good. So yes, sociopaths can do good things. They are capable of doing wonderful things. They just don’t have the sense of right and wrong or empathy and compassion that the rest of us have. So telling a sociopath to back off because he’s harming someone doesn’t work. He’ll destroy the whole world if he thinks he can benefit from it. However, convincing him that he’s harming himself by hurting another human being will usually be effective in getting the sociopath to stop harming others.
How do I know this? Well, I live in the United States where I have had the wonderful opportunity to experience sociopathology first-hand.
Right now, our system rewards selfishness and greed and, since sociopaths only respond to rewards (they aren’t able to have empathy and compassion for others), they’ll do whatever society rewards them for doing.
So the experience with this stalker has taught me something about sociopaths. Believe it or not, they are capable of doing good things–if they think they’ll be rewarded for it. Sadly, right now we’ve decided to reward sociopaths for being greedy and selfish, and so they are quite proud of being exactly that. In fact, some of them flaunt their greed and selfishness with such flamboyant pride that one expects a Greed Pride Parade to take place in the near future. Of course, we’ll have to pay a big price to attend, but I’m sure it’ll be worth it for some of us…
Meanwhile, people who are not greedy and selfish, who refuse to be “money-motivated” sharks, charging viciously after their own personal goals without concern for the well-being of other people, will suffer in our current system. So this is one cause of poverty: kindness. Be a nice person who cares about other people and be prepared to suffer under our current system. Be a person who cares about other people, who thinks independently, who refuses to conform, who does not place money and material things on a pedestal and be prepared to suffer.
But if we suddenly started stigmatizing greed and selfishness while lauding those who are kind and compassionate… Even sociopaths would start to do good things. (They might do those good deeds for the wrong reasons, but they’ll do them.) And good people would have a chance at attaining power. Imagine it! We could have people in positions of power who value human life and quality of life over money and material things–people who want to make life better for everyone around them, not just for themselves. Yes, we could have those people acquire powerful positions in our society if we started rewarding them instead of seeing their compassion as some sort of weakness.
When I first began working on my documentary a few years ago, I didn’t think that wanting to help poor people and reduce this obscene inequality of wealth we now have here in the US would generate so much hate. I expected a lot more support from people than I received. In the past, peeps who cared about the poor were looked up to, admired. People might say things like, “Gosh, you’re a nice person. You care about people less fortunate than yourself.” (Well, people unaffiliated with our government might have said that anyway.)
To be kind and generous is a sign of weakness. Don’t even think of helping another human being, you wimp!
Though I can’t say I’m happy to be financially-challenged, I can say that my financial struggles have made me painfully aware of America’s empathy deficit. Empathy Deficit Disorder? EDD? I’ve been watching the American people gradually sink into this quagmire of selfishness and greed for many years but I couldn’t place it, couldn’t find a name or description for it. I’d just noticed that people were getting meaner. But struggling for many years and running around in circles and every which way trying every thing I could think of to make things better, including asking others for help, has made me painfully aware of the cruelty that has permeated the American soul. How now, America? Et tu, USA?
Somehow a sinister philosophy has snuck into the American zeitgeist. It tells us that when we help someone else, we’re weak, naive and stupid. We’re wasting a lot of time and draining ourselves of energy listening to those weak, whiny bastards. When we help people, we’re encouraging them to be dependent and weak. We should leave them alone because they created their own problems and need to accept responsibility for them and solve their problems on their own.
Fascinating. So we’re responsible for all our problems? Really? Look, I can accept responsibility for things I do and say but not for things other people choose to do or say. If I send out a resume that’s poorly written with lots of typos and don’t get a response then I can accept responsibility for not having reviewed it before sending it out. Maybe it’s my fault I didn’t snag the job. But what if a potential employer hires me anyway, despite the errors of my resume? Who is responsible for that? (I’ve certainly worked for people who can’t read or write very well, so I know from experience that there are employers who really can’t see the difference.) So we can’t take responsibility for everything because we aren’t everything. Believe it or not, there are other people in the world besides us and they make decisions that we can’t control but that will affect us anyway.
And that’s just how it is, people.
Is it your fault your husband is abusive? Is it your fault your best friend died last year? Is it your fault your employer chooses to pay you less than you deserve? Is it your fault there are no jobs in your field? Is it your fault you don’t have the money to go back to college? How did this ridiculously cruel, heartless, and dare I say, evil philosophy take hold in the US? Are we that flawed of a people that we could fall for such nonsense? Apparently so.
Because I think we all know what’s happening here. Sociopaths want to be able to hurt us but to blame us for decisions THEY made. They want us to accept responsibility for the things THEY choose to do. This, by the way, is a form of psychological abuse and has been used by bullies since the dawn of humanity. How many criminals have said of their victims, “It’s her own fault. She asked for it. She wanted it”?
But again, I can’t help but wonder, how did we, as a society, fall for such nonsense?
Seems there was a brief period back in the 60s when people spoke of peace and love, but now we’ve incorporated (no pun intended) war and hate into our modus operandi.
Nowadays, to care about people less fortunate means you’re weak, a bleeding heart and possibly a “terrorist.” (But that’s only because the average American doesn’t even know what the word means. Terror+ist. “Terrorists” spread terror or fear. They’re the ones who tell you that you need more surveillance, more policing, more laws regulating your personal life, more NSA, more DHS. They spread terror, try to make you afraid, so that they can control you.) Why do they want us to be fearful? Because then we feel powerless. We don’t trust each other, so we can’t ever come together as a people and voice our concerns. We lack a support system, a community, because we’re too distrustful of each other to come together. Americans are cruel to themselves and to each other but much of that cruelty results from this disconnection. Americans are very divided and disconnected from each other. Some people are living so well and so comfortably they have no idea how the rest of us live. It’s amazing how different people’s lifestyles can be here in the same country.
The stigmatization of kindness, compassion and generosity is demonstrated in a scene from the film “Wendy and Lucy.”
In one scene, a man gives Wendy a few dollars (not much money, less than $5 from what I recall. I wasn’t able to find the clip on the Internet, so I’m going from memory here.) The man worries that his girlfriend will notice. Can’t let her see that I’m giving you a couple of bucks, ’cause she won’t understand. Understand what? Must he be embarrassed about being kind? Kindness is a quality his girlfriend wouldn’t understand. Yes, there was a time when kindness was a quality much admired, even here in the USSA. (I couldn’t find a video of the scene–guess the film’s producers weren’t so generous with sharing it online–but I did find the trailer for your review.) The fact that the man only has a few dollars to give suggests that he himself is struggling, probably living from paycheck to paycheck, yet he must hide his generosity. Generosity is a weakness these days. Giving to the poor just enables them to stay poor, you see. No incentive to work when you know some old guy’s gonna give you a couple of dollars for doing nothing…
Oy vay! Again, I repeat my question. How did we fall for such nonsense! Do you seriously believe that helping another human being makes them lazy? Please, I’d like you to stop and think about that for a long, long time.
Often as I write this blog, I worry. Perhaps I should delete it all this one of these days, as I know that something bad will, most likely, happen to me as a result of expressing opinions that, frankly, I’m not sure we’re allowed to express anymore. But you see, I used to live in the United States, a country that used to advocate freedom, liberty, the right to speak your mind without worry that the government might come after you, the right to privacy, to be considered innocent until proven guilty.
Yes, it was a wonderful country, and I loved it very much. But perhaps that was because I never really knew it as well as I’d thought.
And I guess all good things must come to an end.
My love was unrequited. My country did not love me back.
Freedom of speech? Technically, we all have it. Everyone all over the world can speak his/her mind about anything. What made the US different from some other countries was that we didn’t need to worry about something bad happening to us as a result of our expressing our opinions.
But it’s just like the French guy said,
All people “are born free, but everywhere they are in chains.” —Jean-Jacques Rousseau (Vive la France!)
Yes, we humans say we want freedom, but then we get scared. When we’re scared, we try to control everything and everyone else around us, thinking that’ll make us feel “safe.” Of course, it’s an illusion because, ultimately, we can’t really control everything and everyone around us–perhaps only on a superficial level. And it takes a great deal of energy for us to keep trying. But like the alcoholic who keeps drinking, then drinks because he/she is drinking, we keep trying to control everything and everyone around us so that everything will be just as we expect it to be. That way, we feel less fearful (but again, only on a superficial level, as we remain fearful deep, down inside.) People rebel against our control, so we need to get even more aggressive in trying to keep them in their proper places!
Of course, there are some of us who aren’t so controlling but we’re looking for someone else to control us. I suppose it’s easier to just sit back and let someone else drive us around life’s neighborhood. So we passively sit back and let them take over so that we can blame them (and not ourselves) when things go wrong.
Okay, folks, that’s all.