“You are insane” states a llama (!!) in a comment to Saturday’s somewhat controversial entry. At least it is not yet a donkey rebuking me, although I guess a llama is pretty close.
Those are dangerous words to utter, at least in the context of religion, but I cannot be too harsh: I myself once hurled the same words thoughtlessly at a better man than me. (My brother, to be exact.) Words come easy to those who do not need to make account for them before the Light, so it is anybody’s guess how serious is the llama’s concern for my mental health. Is it just a fire-and-forget missile of indignation, or do they truly care about my wellbeing? It would probably help if one knew more about their identity than just the species. But why not take it seriously? I have a lot to say about sanity. Or at least the voices in my head have…
I don’t know many insane people. A couple of them only, although I know well what is called “everyday psychopathology”: Phobias, obsessions, compulsions, projections, quirks and so on. As my father used to tell me when I was just a boy: All are mad, and he who is most sane is just the least mad. But neurosis is one thing, psychosis another. To be insane, you have to pretty much be unable to take care of yourself or at least unable to contribute to society.
Now, I don’t contribute to society genetically, so I am already somewhat dubious in that regard. But I still hold my job, and as a matter of fact, lately I have started loving it and making an effort to become better at it, thanks to the crazy cult, or perhaps thanks to the brainwave entrainment. It is hard to say since both are fairly new in my life, but I think the work thing is largely inspired by Master Okawa’s books, because I remember reading some passages there and realizing that I had completely misunderstood the role of work in my life.
But back to the concept of “mere sanity”. By this I mean that what passes for sanity is hardly worthy of being my highest aspiration, even in this highly advanced corner of the world and at this time of education and plenty.
There is, as I said, the everyday psychopathology. There is rarely a man or woman without some quirk or some disturbance that irks themselves or those around them. Some are afraid of taking the elevator or closing the door to the toilet, for fear that they may be trapped in the small closed space. Some are on the contrary afraid of crossing open places. Some are afraid of other people looking at them, some are afraid of being alone. Some are afraid of silence, some of the sounds they hear in the dark. Human ingenuity in misery is astonishing. And yet, this is not all. It is rather the tip of the iceberg.
When I look at the behavior that is socially accepted, even encouraged, sometimes lauded, I myself hardly find it worthy of envy. There I see people whose joy or lack thereof depends on whether a football team has won or lost a match, and a team where neither they nor anyone in their family is a member at that. There I see people who worry loudly about global warming, but eat mounds of beef and drive large cars. There I see those who bemoan the imperfections of their available health care, but who eat large helpings of fat and synthetic fructose and then sit down in front of the television for the evening.
Does it end there? If only! We are just warming up. There are two enormous delusions that terrorize the current civilization, off the top of my head. One, the most tragic on a personal scale, is the belief that happiness is something others are obliged to give us. This takes many forms, but basically they all amount to this: “If the other person would do what I wanted, I would be happy, but now I cannot be happy because they don’t live up to my expectations.” Of course, this is usually mutual. This is the madness against which Master Okawa and I are allies, though there are precious few others I can call on. It is obvious once you have actually experienced it that happiness comes from within, and depends mostly on our own choices.
The second, which is most tragic for the whole planet, is the insane intertwining of wealth and reproductive success. In a not too distant past, this was actually meaningful, for starvation was never far off for the common man, not to mention the common woman and child. A man who could display his potential as a provider during the next famine was the natural center of female attention. There may also have been an element of the instinct that forces the male weaver bird to spend a long time building a highly elaborate nest to impress the female: If he can do all this and still have time to eat and not be eaten by predators, he must have healthy genes, let’s come get them. This is fine as long as you are a bird making nests from branches, leaves, and discarded plastic foil. But when a highly intelligent species sets out to compete for their bare life to display the most wealth, regardless of the price in natural resources, pollution, species extinction and future environmental collapse… “Love hurts.” It hurts the whole planet.
There are of course the lesser evils I rail against: The notion that you will make friends by chewing gums and drinking soft drinks (I suppose it could happen, but listening to people and remembering their preferences is far more effective). The belief that being born on the right side of some line on a map makes you inherently superior to those on the other side. The rapid exchange of sex partners instead of taking time to cultivate true intimacy. Hell, throw in the whole porn industry, as if people did not have enough imagination or everyday life was not exciting enough. The insanity goes on and on.
I won’t say sanity is overrated. Quite the opposite. There is way too little of it. And I will take any allies I can find to make people stop and think: What the hell am I doing? Even when the “people” in question is myself.