"Nothing comes from violence and nothing ever could." Sting
We are all mad. Not just angry, crazy or furious; we have all begun to go stark raving mad and there's even some proof to this trend.
French historian and philosopher Michel Foucault first wrote about this phenomenon in 1961 in which he documented the history of insanity from the Middle Ages to present day. Varying states of lunacy from both a cultural and scientific perspective included the creative and liberating forces of great artists Vincent Van Gogh, Salvador Dalí and Francisco Goya), famous writers (Friedrich Nietzsche, Antonin Artaud), legendary rulers (King Charles IV of France, Martin Luther, Irma Grese and Queen Mary), brilliant inventors (Nikola Tesla and Benjamin Franklin) and fictional villains (the tragic King Lear and horrific Hannibal Lecter). While most of these eccentrics had some redeeming qualities that competed with their maniacal behavior, nearly all made significant marks on our collective psyches - some more pleasant than others. There is indeed a fine line between genius and insanity.
Today's cast of characters now includes a hugely disproportionate number of corrupt government officials from every country, economists whose policies could destroy their own country, religious leaders and educators who urge congregants and students to arm themselves and kill, and pseudo-intellectuals who applaud the fascist remarks of candidates. Crazed.
Whether you believe that the greatest threat the human race faces now is climate change or terrorism, it's easy to find madness on both sides of every debate. Small-minded politicians with bizarre beliefs and nothing to display beyond clever slogans and their immense egos promote quick fixes with total disregard for any long-term implications. It's as if the past has no meaning at all and history taught us nothing. Madness.
How can we forget decades of unjustified war and violent aggression -- carefully orchestrated to obscure the real purpose of securing the very commodity that led us to the brink of widespread cataclysm? This was no solution to either threat, but instead it accelerated both terrorism and climate change. Is our rage so blind, our vengeance so stupefying that together they have erased the memory of our past folly? Do we truly think something good can come from more violence or believe something ever could? Absurdity.
The leaders of fanatical cults must be celebrating in their hideaways as we load more ordnance onto B-2 Spirit Bombers, artillery that costs taxpayers more than $900,000,000 for each aircraft. "We will do everything we can to minimize collateral damage," declare our military experts, conveniently avoiding any mention of our war on terror that thus far has killed more than two million people and wounded millions more. Senselessness.
As issue spin pivots our attention from jobs and the economy to terror and security, fear again becomes the driving force, protection from danger delivered by bigger armaments both on the battlefield and in our basements. Gun sales skyrocket, defense budgets quietly escalate, schools prepare for slaughter. Insanity.
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So what can we do? How can we begin to turn the tide with some degree of reason, employ even the slightest measure of hope, make a modest course correction if not for ourselves then for future generations who will inherit this crazy world we've created out of our own ignorance? The ideas themselves will appear to many as the epitome of foolishness, but then again, what do we have to lose since we've already lost our collective mind?
First, at whatever personal cost, let's acknowledge the reality that we have been the architects of our own destiny. We are not the victims of alien spaceships filled with tiny green people who took over our brains and made us act in these ways. No, my friends, we did this to ourselves. Let's own it and name it. We've gone off the rails, we've lost our marbles, we're cray cray, irrational, mad as hatters beyond anything even Lewis Carroll could have dreamt up. Only when we name the infirmity can we begin to develop a treatment plan.
Second, let's all take a few deep breaths. A little more oxygen never hurt anyone, and too much carbon dioxide hampers clear thinking and can create brain fog. Let's face it - we're in some pretty thick smog right now, and we could all use some fresh air. So get yourself to a city park, take a walk in the woods, get some exercise, take a stroll by the river. Get out of the city or if you can't, get yourself to the gym, an online yoga class, or do some good old, no cost calisthenics. Get that blood pumping- we're going to need every heart we can open.
Third, stop complaining - contrary to what some people may suggest, it doesn't help at all and may actually be harmful. It rarely makes any difference when you complain about things you cannot change -- like getting caught in rush-hour traffic or stuck in the security line at the airport. Most people don't want to hear you complain anyway.
Fourth, show a little gratitude for what you have. The very fact that you are reading this on a computer, tablet or phone is amazing enough, isn't it? Sure, there are problems with technology - we all know that - but isn't it mind blowing even to be able to read when 775 million people in the world can't? Maybe they are all luckier than we are - ignorance is bliss and all that -- but still, I'd bet you're happy about the gift of literacy. Are there other gifts you can acknowledge? Vision? Children? Parents? Friends? Weekends?
Fifth, commit a few acts of random kindness and senseless beauty. How does it make you feel when you're on the receiving end of one of those? Why not give back, pay it forward, do it for no reason at all. It's free and probably will take no more time than reading the next paragraph. Go ahead.
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OK, now that we're on the same page, here's my plan - the one I'd love to convince a few people in power to consider seriously. How radical is this:
Stop killing innocent children, cease the bombing everywhere, bring the planes back. Now, load them up with healthy food, medical supplies, children's clothing, warm blankets, cooking supplies, fresh water, protective shelters, seeds, good books. Drop these things into every neighborhood that we've destroyed. Shower them with love, kindness, stuff that supports life. Give enough people things they need and you will win them back from those who are trying to rule their country with violence and killing as they attempt to convince them we're the bad guys. Surprise the enemy with big love and start taking care of the children we've harmed.
How novel! How extraordinary! How utterly mad it would be to promote love and turn away from war.
And now admit it - is this really crazier than what we've been doing over and over again expecting the outcome to change? I don't think so. Maybe - just maybe - we could actually start acting like there's only one of us here.
No go ahead and tweet this, share it, spread the word. Post it on your home page, write a song about it, shout it from the rooftops -- we're in this together. One planet, one world, that one heart we all share. This is the current state of mad love.
By William Spear