You Suffer (But Why?)

When I was young, they told me fairy tales. It took many years, but I have seen through them. The real stories are less complex; however, they are less emotionally satisfying.

It can take a decade to trade truth for emotion.

The fairy tales we tell ourselves all involve the same theme: the individual as victim of forces out of their control, and the resulting lack of autonomy meaning that they cannot fix the situation.

Once upon a time I believed that people were homeless from bad luck. Now I am more willing to face the truth: they are generally insane, and almost always have drug/alcohol problems.

The few who truly do “fall on hard times” generally bounce back after a while, usually by getting a menial job while homeless until they have the cash to rent a place. It’s probably not easy but not hard either, since menial jobs have high turnover. The real problem is avoiding temptation to get intoxicated, buy stuff that you don’t need, or chuck it all and hit the road.

I also used to believe the line that government was a manipulator and that shadowy groups of rich or religious people used their twisted power to control us. Now I see that we control us, and that the control is decentralized. Most people prefer fast food to fine food, and idiotic TV to quality literature, so these win out.

Long ago I believed the line that people work hard at jobs. After experience, people work long hours at jobs, and some people work diligently meaning that they stay on top of what they must manage. Very few people work “hard.” These are desk jobs. The mythos of hard work was invented so that we don’t have to face the truth, which is that some people are born smarter and more competent than almost everyone else.

When I was in school, people made a big deal out of luck. If Johnny was an A student, it was because he was fortunate to have the support network to help him. If Billy was a C student, he just had bad luck in home life. Years later I see that all was lies; people make their own luck. If Billy or Johnny decides to rise, they can. It takes that decision.

People also made a big fuss over true love, passion, compassion, hatred, love, peace, and other big emotions. Over time I came to realize that emotions are like any other type of thought, and without discipline they tend toward the metaphysical equivalent of a cheeseburger. Undisciplined emotion is a wrecking ball just like unsystematic thought. Either leads to chaos.

There were other popular notions too. One was that if you did not have a constant stream of distractions, and new products, or workplace/home/friend drama, you were missing out on life. I later came to realize that these distractions were the surrogate, or a pale outward imitation of what people really want, which is purpose. They want a quest, a goal and a value to uphold. Without that, they revert to being fat people on couches surfing 500 cable channels and not finding any one of them to their taste.

The point is, looking back over the years, that people invent stories to justify the inaction, incompetence and dysfunction of the average person through blame of some impersonal “other” like The Rich, The Jews, The Bilderbergers, The Republicans or The Hitlers. We tell ourselves these stories so that every person has an excuse and thus we can all (theoretically) get along.

The people who should know better — upper half of middle class, college-educated, experienced — tell comfortable lies in order to appear like “allies” to the people who benefit from these lies. They seem to be hoping to stave off revolution, or hoping that if they come across as “nice” they won’t get their homes burgled. Neither seems to work.

At the bottom are those who benefit from these stories. They are let off the hook and given not only an excuse, but a free ticket for charity. This simply enrages them, because they may be dysfunctional but they can detect snobby condescension.

It’s unclear why people lie so much. We have a choice to suffer or not. If you want to suffer, do whatever you can to distance yourself from reality and practical, efficient plans for making it better. If you want to avoiding as much suffering as possible, be systematic and organized and have a goal. It’s that simple.

The heart of the problem is that people realize how simple it is to do things right, but they want a reason to not feel bad about not doing this, usually because they were busy with personal drama or selfish behavior. Thus a pyramid of lies was invented to hide a single falsehood.

For centuries we’ve gotten away with the daily trade in lies because the inventions of the past put us in a position where with minimal effort, we could expand on those technologies and become luxurious and lazy. We could afford to.

Now as the world economy caves in, people are making noises about cleaning up our act. That won’t do it, nor will global warming. What’s really forcing our hand is the realization that humanity is expanding over this earth like a swarm of locusts, and soon there will be almost no nice places to escape from the madness of the rest of them.

For many years, having as many people as we wanted was free, and being oblivious to their incompetence, criminality and drama was basically low-cost too. What’s changed that is the sheer number of people. Now it’s us against them, and so our desire to tolerate them is lessening.

34 Comments

  1. crow says:

    Good points, all, and ones to ponder.
    All you can do is adjust yourself, since there is no adjusting the others.
    Track down those emotional black holes and move away from them.
    Track down those lies and distortions; leave them in a heap, and move off.
    Survival is always a balancing act.

    I recently bought a new drill/driver, to replace the ageing ones I have.
    New battery technology, to make my life easier.
    But the new batteries last one fifth as long as the old ones. The clutch doesn’t work at all. It smells like a permanent electrical short, and was very expensive.
    On the other hand, I bought some new wind chimes, even more expensive than the drill. They are, of course, useless. But only in terms of functionality. Tubular bells based around “A” 440 Hz, transforming my outside environment into something reminiscent of a Buddhist temple.
    The chimes turn out to be more useful than the drill.

    Sure, ‘they’ tell you fairy-stories. But only you can choose the ones you subscribe to, and the ones that are for children and dolts. You make your own reality, out of reality itself, and whatever else gets superimposed upon it. The result is the one you choose. Mine suits me.

    1. ferret says:

      Crow, you are here! Glad to hear from you.

      1. crow says:

        I am always here.
        Often I get demoralized at the lack of humanity in humans, to the point where I can’t see the point in even commenting, let alone writing essays. It comes and goes.
        People suck.
        Maybe I am somewhat schizophrenic:
        I alternate between caring very much for the welfare of humanity, and not giving a toss for any of them.
        I have a nice rabbit. Honest. True. Generally a more rewarding associate than most people.

        1. ferret says:

          Cheer up! Nibiru is approaching :)

  2. I like this article better than the normal ones. It’s more straightforward and less prone to sanctimony. And ends on a harder edge than is routine for Amerika, which is a necessity that I feel Brettykins has been avoiding more than is good for his writing up to now.

    1. crow says:

      People are always telling Brett how he should write.
      I wrote a novel, once, simply because nobody had written the one I really wanted to read. It was probably crap, to anybody else, but I enjoyed reading it.
      If you want to read what you want to read, write it yourself.

      1. Kind of a dumb thing to say to a guy who has many articles written on a completely esoteric niche blog.

        For someone who’s apparently pro-reality-principle and sincerity/honesty, you did a mighty fine job there of strawmanning what I actually said “than is good for his writing” with your own assumption “what I want to read.

        Y’all are always complaining about how people don’t put reality before their own feelings, but when Buttercup actually does just that y’all say I’m doing the opposite.

        When infact, it is bad for your writing. Avoiding uncomfortable conclusions, no matter how correct they are, makes for bad blogging. Amerika loves to avoid uncomfortable conclusions and voicing them explicitly and clearly when it could, -shock!- offend the very “sheep” Brett intends to appeal to.

        Amerika: “you are all dumb sheeple who vote for wolves and buy stuff from pigs, so we only ever imply the truth instead of actually telling it. That might scare you. And affect my blog traffic.”

        1. crow says:

          A bit sensitive, aren’t we?
          Sorry if it went by me that you were so well-known.
          I happen to be a big Brett-Supporter, if you hadn’t noticed. I don’t support just anybody.
          The only thing I’ve ever really noticed about you is your proneness to contribute nothing of value, but plenty of negativity and destructiveness.
          As you have just done, yet again.

          As for “strawmen”: only internet wasters seem to use that term, whatever it means. Whenever I see it, it is a certain sign of what is to follow. Nothing good ever comes from people who use it.

          1. ferret says:

            “As for “strawmen”: only internet wasters seem to use that term”

            A good observation.

        2. Avoiding uncomfortable conclusions, no matter how correct they are, makes for bad blogging. Amerika loves to avoid uncomfortable conclusions and voicing them explicitly and clearly when it could, -shock!- offend the very “sheep” Brett intends to appeal to.

          I think you’re misinterpreting. I like clarity, but I don’t like telling people what to do. The last mile is for the reader, and is not a static quantity, but one that is ever-changing and specific to time, place and person.

          This world is good at telling you what exactly to do, especially while appearing not to be. The Swiffer commercial tells me that if I don’t buy Swiffer, my wife and/or me will have trouble cleaning our place, won’t experience lives of leisure, and will be exhausted and haggard-looking.

          A blog post is more of an offering, both for readers to read and in humble submission to whatever made this existence possible. It says that I have seen what I have been given, and am doing my best to make sense of it, so I can appreciate the gift in its best sense and use it toward whatever ends are most logical.

      2. All the good novels are written that way, and most are initially opposed by the vast majority of critics. It’s only after time that the profundity sinks in and people start looking to the novel and saying, “You know, that’s how it was,” and then they become classics.

    2. ferret says:

      This article is “less prone to sanctimony”?
      Have you ever seen a trace of sanctimony in the Brett’s writing?
      Where? When?

      1. I don’t think you see it because it’s something you’re prone too as well, in the same ideological direction no less..

        .. if you weren’t, you wouldn’t be snapping at me.

        Brett is often sanctimonious, but isn’t picked up on it because the commentators here are walls in an echo chamber (except me. obv).

        One thing Brett likes to do a lot is on one hand point to a distribution graph of inherent abilities, but then negate that with some sweeping statements or implications about how if your having a really difficult time, it’s not that the economy is in a twitching corpse of a state. It’s that you’re not looking at life through BrettStevensVision of transcendental opportunities and all that jazz.

        Bretts writing makes good sense.. when tested on its own terms. When stacked up against the art of the possible it’s very much a different story. As you’ve noted in your later comment Brett is often nonspecific for the sake of rheotoric; what you see as a point to be argued I interpret – more correctly – as sanctimony.

        1. ferret says:

          “in the same ideological direction no less..”

          How can I have the same ideological direction if I do have my ideology while Brett rejects the very necessity of having one, and even the word “ideology” regards as a dirty word?

          “you wouldn’t be snapping at me.”

          I didn’t. If I asked to back your opinion, that’s because I was surprised by this “sanctimony”. I believe, sanctimony is suitable more to those who are pursuing their own interest, which is not the case here. Not for Brett, nor for me.

          “Bretts writing makes good sense.. when tested on its own terms.”

          To make good sense, a writing has to be consistent whithin the article and with at least a couple of the previous ones. Not on the emotional, but on the rational level. If the logic is broken, a sanctimony is impossible. Here we have a pure sincerity.

          1. Pure sincerity? Crazy street preachers are pretty doggone sincere as well, but that doesn’t mean they’re not sanctimonious. Ditto, Brett seems very unable to take off his They Live sunglasses and see things from anyone else’s point of view.

            1. ferret says:

              http://www.synonyms.net/antonyms/sanctimony

              Sanctimony’s antonyms: sincerity,candor, genuineness, ingenuousness, truth, frankness, honesty, openness, transparency, truthfulness

  3. ferret says:

    “I believed that people were homeless from bad luck. Now I am more willing to face the truth: they are generally insane, and almost always have drug/alcohol problems.”

    According to this reasoning, they have good luck of being insane and with the substance abuse problems. A fresh insight.

    “Now I see that we control us”

    This vague “we”, I guess, doesn’t include the government, rich people, “proles”, and “[t]he people who should know better — upper half of middle class”. Who are “we”, just a thin stratum of doing rather well but complaining anyway people?

    “Now it’s us against them”.

    OK, we control us and should not suffer and complain. All is in our hands. Then why should we be against “them”? Simply “be systematic and organized and have a goal”.

    Or, maybe, this non-material, transcendent goal is to extinguish “them”?

    1. I think illusions control us. The rich are either honorable people, or are here to take away from the rest, but I don’t think they care about control. They care about what they’re going to take away. Bad luck is a misfortune, everything else is just how things are. It is neither good luck nor bad luck to have gravity, or to end up homeless if you’re insane and addicted to drugs/alcohol. This doesn’t mean I lack compassion for these people, but it does mean I lack pity. All things in their place. And never sacrifice the good for the less-good, only the other way around.

      1. ferret says:

        “illusions control us”
        “we control us”

        We = illusions

        “The rich are either honorable people, or are here to take away from the rest, but I don’t think they care about control.”

        Then what are they care about? How to become poor instead? No.
        The rich have to keep everithing under control; they or their paid representatives care about many things in order not to lose wealth.

        “They care about what they’re going to take away.”

        No, they just take what they need and consume it without caring much.

        “Bad luck is a misfortune, everything else is just how things are.”

        Bad luck is a misfortune or bad luck /*Synonyms*/
        Everything else is everithing less bad luck
        Everything else is not bad luck
        Not bad luck is just how things are /*Optimistic*/
        thus,
        Bad luck does not exist

  4. Missy says:

    Of course the majority of the homeless are mentally ill or druggies or alcoholics or all three. How very, very simple. Anybody here opine as to why they got that way? You could look backward at the cascade of events that resulted in their state, right up to the Dawn of Time and the Fall of Man, and no one’s any better off. Nevertheless, I dare anyone to see these dirty creatures lurching about the streets and not think, “but for the grace of God…”

    1. crow says:

      Since you dare anyone, I will respond to your dare.

      I have been there, done that, and had endless opportunities to become, as a vocation, exactly what such people have become.
      I declined such a course, with great difficulty, because it was their course, not mine.
      While they staggered about, trying to sell copies of ‘The Communist Worker’ to anyone they could, hating anyone who had more, or was more than they, and singing the praises of Marx on soapboxes at Hyde Park Corner, I merely stared at them, in friendly fashion, utterly nonplused at their attitudes.
      I was on the bottom rung of the social ladder, and I didn’t care at all. It was nobody’s fault, and nobody’s responsibility but mine to either go with it, or move away from it.
      The problem, misinterpreted as almost anything else but what it actually is, is a failure to grow up. It doesn’t always end in hopeless destitution of a visible kind, but it does always end badly.
      For everyone.

      1. Missy says:

        Who the heck is talking about some silly commies? I’m talking about the hopeless where I live: aboriginals (and a few white guys) who look 5X their age, w/ giant purple noses, staggering about and begging for money. And collapsing unconscious on the street until the police come by and tell them to move, or take them to the pisstank or street project to sleep it off til the next morning at which time they start all over again.

        Is this the bottom rung of the social ladder you were at? No, I don’t pity them. I just know that I don’t look down on them. Not saying you do, but I am astonished at how many good folk take this attitude.

        1. crow says:

          Well, anyone has their attitude.
          Who’s to say it’s the wrong one?
          Like you, we all have our own unique experiences of life, and these form our attitudes.
          My ‘bottom rung’ was, indeed a bottom rung, and it was where I was, when I was. I know from experience that anyone can start from nothing and build something, even quite late in life. Unless I am a lot more special than I give myself credit for :)

  5. Cage.Fighter says:

    This website is full of tendentious opinions. I am a committed individualist and I love my life. Why a self-styled elitist would even bother worrying about all of the mushy crap discussed here is beyond me.

    I don’t want a ‘goal’, ‘shared purpose’, or any concern for the next man – I can provide all of this for myself.

    The whole idea that there is some ‘reality’ that should interfere with my pleasurable life, I reject. I treat reality the way I treat limp-wrists that get in my way – roundhouse kick to the neck. Grow some hairy balls you lot.

    1. The whole idea that there is some ‘reality’ that should interfere with my pleasurable life, I reject.

      We call that solipsism, and it requires that you believe you are the cause of yourself.

      1. Cage.Fighter says:

        Ultimately, I am the cause of myself – my awareness of anything does not precede my awareness of myself, so why should I give more credence to anything other than myself?

        Your perspective is no less solipsistic, except you have identified with a whole bunch of extraneous conditions onto which you project yourself, and this annexation-by-bloating becomes your new self, with a solipsism all the worse because it is apparently absolute. It is like a kind of intellectual ‘bloatware’.

        I don’t admit any conditions to be imposed on myself, because I know they are all relative – so if I don’t need them I dismiss them without a second thought. And I don’t need much, because I’m a real man who takes on life like a wolf, not some whiny intellectual who bitches about the environment, nation, race, and every other crappy detail that shouldn’t get in the way of living like a champ. You guys are still babes, man!

        1. crow says:

          I used to be a lot like you when I was a dumbass teenager.
          Tough as nails and an ego to match.
          I had my own version of your one-size-fits-all roundhouse kick to solve any problem I encountered.
          So your view is amusing.
          It’s also juvenile and boorish.
          But hey, feel free to insult everyone here. It’s a popular thing to do.
          Why do you bother reading this stuff, anyway, if you feel so superior to it?
          Just askin’…

          1. Cage.Fighter says:

            Because I’m a Cage Fighter, and the Truth is my coach; I read others’ thoughts in search of a worthy opponent, and leave a trail of angst-ridden defeated intellectuals in my wake.

            And if it weren’t for the police, I’d haunt the streets snap-kicking working-class mouthbreathers, bourgeois pot-bellies and hysterical women too, until I was the only stud left in my territory, with a requisitioned flock of livestock to keep me fed and entertained. I’ve known some holocaust-deniers – well I’m a holocaust-affirmer, with future time orientation.

            From what I’ve read here, you’re my kind of guy. I like you the most – who else but a badass would have been homeless for a while? And don’t pretend you give a damn about the rest of the straight-laced gibberish here! You know you’re a wolf too!

            Now, with the wishy-washy heartwarming talk out of the way, I invite you and all other witnesses to defeat my deductive reasoning, or cede victory to me without further ado, and have a post written in my honor to prove that this site respects hierarchy.

            1. crow says:

              I’m having a bad day, as it happens, but that reply made me laugh. Nice one :)
              I’d engage you, but deductive reasoning really isn’t my thing. Any reasoning at all isn’t my thing, although I appreciate reason.
              So I’m a wolf. More coyote, maybe. I spend a lot of time and energy trying to be semi-civilized, with mixed results.
              I end up being a crow.
              But you see, although a man can make it alone, there’s this thing called civilization that is bigger than him, and so he has a certain duty to it. Youth finds this notion crazy, and it is, to the young. But barbarism is only really do-able when you’re young, and you, too, won’t be, and sooner than you’d think.
              Oh, and if it’s victory you’re after: take it, it’s yours.
              I have no great use for it any more.

        2. Izak says:

          You’re on the comments section of an internet blog.

  6. ferret says:

    “Years later I see that all was lies; people make their own luck. If Billy or Johnny decides to rise, they can.”

    There is one problem: If people are not equal by their abilities, some of them, that have less than others, may have a difficulty to rise, even if they decide to.

    Let us admit, some of these Johnnys and Billys will never be able to do what a guy with a more lucky genes, and who was nurtured in more advanced environment, can do.

    1. Very true. However, unequal abilities do not preclude success at relatively simple tasks like school. Billy may have to work harder for his grades, but he’ll get there.

  7. Izak says:

    Good article.

    I’m also enjoying these 80s punk/metal/hardcore/grindcore/whatever references. First it was “Free Speech For The Dumb” by Discharge, and now it’s a 2-second Napalm Death song.

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