On the day he should have graduated from high school, Andrew was instead being treated in a psychiatric ward at the Mayo Clinic. But he seemed to improve, and we were hopeful. Upon release, he was placed in a series of behavioral health centers and group homes. This is where his real education began.
He’d quit progressing in school, but now my son soaked up new information like a toddler learning to talk. Every placement in a succeedingly tougher environment gave him new skills. He shoplifted like a pro, traded his belongings for sexual favors, and dined and dashed so often some local restaurants had his picture posted in their kitchen under the words, “Don’t serve this man.” I told myself at least he was thinking, making his own bad choices, experiencing adult consequences. A part of me was even proud.
Liberalism seems to be the illusion that each person is in charge of their own destiny, just by wanting to be. No need to engage with life and summon will; instead, just wish it to be so. Stay back safe and comfortable in your self, where you can deny mortality or your insignificance, and make choices like you’re buying objects or voting. Now you are empowered.
She fawns over her mentally broken son being empowered above. Yet he is still a monster. Why is he a monster, and why are some people evil? Because they are broken. Their brains do not process reality correctly, or to put it bluntly, they are stupid in certain ways where they need to be smart to not be destructive. Low-grade evil is stupid people who commit crimes of opportunity, squander their money, vandalize whatever they touch and burn their ghettoes to protest; high-grade stupid is violent autistic kids, psychopaths and sociopaths, and liberal or neoliberal flag-wavers.
Can you see the similarity? Her kid behaves like other stupid and correspondingly violent people:
He ate like some gnashing beast: stuffing food into his mouth until his cheeks bulged and food dribbled out onto his clothes. And after moving to the rural group home selected by a judge because it was miles from restaurants or businesses where he could steal, Andrew morphed again, the warty monster from a Grimm fairy tale, demolishing everything in his path.
His destruction was utterly senseless yet brilliantly thorough: He submerged his computer, stereo and iPod in water; threw puzzle pieces and Styrofoam cups into the toilet and flushed them, plugging the pipes literally dozens of times a week; and urinated on every square inch of his room: bed, walls, floor, closet, everything but the ceiling and that only because he had not (yet, I suspect) figured out how.
When I asked him why he did these things he would say, eyes narrow like a night creature, “I don’t like being caged.”
Good golly, he’s already learned passive aggression. It’s not my fault. You caged me so you are guilty of what I have done.
Like the impoverished and violent, he steals and vandalizes, wasting all good things. He knows he cannot make them; he has no idea what it takes to make them, so they have no value to him. He would adapt well to living in a forest as a feral, destructive beast.
How does a good, mature liberal handle this collision with reality?
It was Christmas Day. I watched him enter the room and fix his gaze on my daughter. Then he rushed her, and I screamed. My husband — two inches shorter and 50 pounds lighter — somehow intercepted Andrew and knocked him to the ground. After he had been escorted from our family dinner in restraints, we sat at a table heaped with food growing cold, where my elderly parents wept and my daughter shook silently. I comforted them all and after that was done — the meal reheated and people eating — I drank every drop of alcohol in sight, even draining the half-full wine glass my mother always left.
We go into denial. Pick the easy, sociable answer — everything will be OK, don’t upset the stability — and the be shocked! shocked, I tell you! when it blows up in your face.
Parallels to our society are abundant. We’re engorged with the stupid, evil, parasitic and criminal, yet we insist on assuming that another course of corrective education will work magic.
We’re in denial.
Tags: cognitive dissonance