Archives for August 2017

26Aug

The Pressing Need to be Better Than

This universal pressure here in America permeates everything, in almost every way.  People have a need to be better than someone, almost any one will do.  Most of the time, this need manifests itself blatantly.  Men who buy the biggest truck, they may have no need for a truck, but they must display the largest truck.  Women who spend an entire paycheck at the spa, getting manicures and pedicures, as if to say, I don’t have to work, look at my manicure: perfect.  In these situations, for the most part, it is a matter of successful marketing and is harmless, except perhaps to the wallet.

However, there is nothing harmless about the crushing need that certain sectors of our society have to be better than entire races and cultures.  This “being better” ideology allows a belief system to justify harsh and hate filled judgment of others.  This harsh judgment separates humans from each other and consequently allows cruelty to proliferate.

What I don’t understand is where does it come from?  In almost every conversation, particularly in business and social settings I see the conversations slipping into comparisons of wealth, status, intelligence, to say nothing of displays of wealth and privilege.

Not all societies have this need, and certainly there are gradients to the need.  This need is causing more destruction than can be counted.  One-up-man ship is a relationship killer, so we can readily acknowledge what it is doing to the melting pot of America.  Throughout our short history we have punished and denigrated all new cultures, indeed, beginning with the genocide of the American Indian.

Long term world peace is a real goal.  The attainment of such peace must begin with the individual who is willing to be equal in rights and privileges to all other individuals.   That can be a scary thought, as we can’t seem to imagine the abundance that is enough for everyone.  We want our own wealth and an assurance of survival.

As long as America grants person status to corporations and idolizes wealth and the wealthy, we will struggle with equality.  That is shameful for a nation founded on the tenets of equality and emancipation.

18Aug

Disturbing and Worse, it Continues

I think John Kasich said it best, when asked why no one is taking action against Trump “Well he’s the president.”  Under that simple statement lies a plethora of beliefs, some of them American and some of them Feudalistic.

I watch the news, I read the news, I hate it, but I do.  There seems to be universal agreement that we have made a mistake electing Trump and allowing him to stay in place.  Yet, there is no one to step forward and do something about this travesty.  We listen to Klan members telling us why it was justified to kill a 32 year old woman.  We listen to Trump justify the actions and the words and yet, here we sit.

The clinical side (and thousands of therapists have banned together to make these statements), is that Trump is a narcissistic man, with a disregard for humanity and a never ending interest in self aggrandizement.  The “duty to warn” case law is very clear, if a therapist can realistically predict harm, then the therapist must act to warn those who are in danger.  America, we are in danger.

For whatever reason, we allow this monster to proceed down a path where human life is inconsequential and his own comfort and pleasure are monumental.  Two things, our capitalist culture  values wealth above human life and admires wealth as if it is meaningful in some way.  This is part of the reason Trump’s dynasty has continued.  Trump is seen as a Demi-God, after all, he is wealthy.  Of course the fact that he is president stops us from taking action against him, and we must.

Let’s be clear, Donald Trump is a selfish, antagonistic childish man who does not deserve American respect.  He does not deserve admiration for his wealth, he is neither responsible for it, nor responsible with it.  He is a sexist, power hungry, nasty little boy and he needs to be removed from office.  This is America people, not North Korea, we have the right to require that our leader be humane and compassionate.

13Aug

Envy

Quintana RooI remember vividly the two most prominent cases of envy that I have felt for another.  My envy always starts with me and what I feel I don’t have.  As a young woman (in my early twenties), I wanted very badly to go to college.   My family of origin didn’t have the funds (nor the inclination). By the time I met Brigitte, I had children and could not even consider a college education.

Brigitte was a cocktail waitress who worked with my mother.  She was tall and beautiful and had movie star hair.  Her hair was a deep brown, naturally curly and framed her face naturally and provocatively.  My mother marveled at Brigitte’s choices as Brigitte had traveled the world with her military parents, spoke a foreign language and had a college degree.  I saw and met Brigitte many times.  Once, on a cruise dinner party that I attended with my mother, Brigitte was present.  I was a bit lonely and it must have shown as Brigitte spent a lot of time befriending me.  She was sweet and loving and beautiful.

I met Brigitte’s boyfriend, who was a highway patrolman.  They seemed happy together.  Secretly, I nursed a grudge against Brigitte.  I thought that she was wasting her college education working as a cocktail waitress.  I felt that I should have been given her educational opportunities as I would have made use of them.  I felt that the world was unfair, giving gifts to those who don’t care or don’t appreciate.

And then I got the call. My mother asked me to come over.  My mother told me “last night Brigitte and her boyfriend were arguing.  Brigitte went home with another one of the cocktail waitresses and a male friend was with them.  Brigitte told her boyfriend where she was.  Sometime between 3:30 and 5:00 a.m., he found them.  Brigitte’s boyfriend took his gun and shot all three of them.  Clearly, Brigitte’s girlfriend ran, because she was found in the hallway with a bullet in the back of her head.  The only survivor was the male, who was shot in the face”.  He suffered a deformity for the rest of his life.

It came to light that Brigitte’s boyfriend was a combat veteran who had served in Vietnam.  For the next fifteen years I was afraid of Vietnam vets.

My next example of Envy is much, much later, after my divorce from my husband: the father of my children.  It took us quite awhile to finalize our divorce and he struggled mightily to avoid our debts and to avoid paying child support.  It was an extremely difficult time for me as I could never quite pay ALL of my bills.  Taking care of the kids financially always left me feeling inadequate.  I took a second job and just kept trying.  My ex-husband remarried and I was so very envious of their financial security.  They bought a new home, drove new cars and had a vacation home in North Carolina.  In the meantime I couldn’t afford a new prom dress for my daughter.  I envied my ex-husband’s wife’s financial security.  She is childless and could focus all finances on her self.  I went five years without buying new underwear, I just couldn’t afford it.

And then, the unthinkable happened.  My ex-husband died from his one and only heart attack.  He was only 54 years old.  The new wife got to keep the estate, but it didn’t matter because my children’s father was gone.  That single event shattered everyone’s security for many years.

And now when I look back, I think Envy is the most wasteful emotion of all.