Topics: Commentary, Existentialism, Politics
I've been away doing grad work and thinking about how I'm going to fund myself this summer. In our current anti-science era, it's a constant concern.
I have other concerns, most recently the Austin bomber and my family in harm's way. The shame is he didn't expire himself before taking the lives of innocent others.
An excerpt of a post from another blog I manage on this subject:
Megan Meier thought that "Josh" loved her. The figment of a neighboring mother's imagination broke up with her and resulted in a sweet girl’s suicide.
I'm old enough to remember when CNN debuted in 1980. Prior to that, HBO had limited showings and television shut down (the "snow" screen in the scene of the movie "Poltergeist") around 11 PM. If you were an insomniac, you REALLY had to work at it.
Not to say there weren't shootings: the UT tower incident in the '60s comes to mind. However, with 24-hour news and the Internet on which you read this commentary, becoming "famous" can happen in nanoseconds at near light speed with the voracious need for copy by the media.
Ironically, "Robert" means "bright and shining fame." I wonder if he knew this when he wrote "I'll be famous" in his suicide note?
In 2004, Nebraska ranked 41 out of 50 states in the rate of suicides recorded: 166 deaths reported in the state at a rate of 9.5. I'm getting this from http://www.suicidology.org/.
From the CNN article linked above, his landlord paraphrased: "He basically said how sorry he was for everything," Maruca Kovac said of the note. "He didn't want to be a burden to people and that he was a piece of s--- all of his life and that now he'd be famous."
Mental health in this country is a phobia, a cousin in the attic no one wants to discuss. We've all got our issues, and they can be exacerbated by the economy, social situations and most importantly, lack of treatment.
It would seem silly if someone broke an arm or the femur in their legs and tried to "play it off" as if nothing hurts. Mind you, I've had my share of hairline fractures as a martial artist that I did the same thing with, but as I get older I'm a little more cautious and check out everything, EVERYTHING with my doctor.
When will we have this attitude about mental health?
Could crime rates be the result of desperate people finding themselves in desperate situations where nefarious criminal activity makes "sense" in warped minds?
Would their be a decrease in wars if we had clear-minded leaders that steered their countries towards peace and alternate energy sources so we're not beholding to despots and dictators to drive our SUVs, pay $3 in gas and turn on a light bulb?
Mark Conditt was apparently such a young man. The stereotypical "lone wolf" I'm sure they'll say. "Mental issues" and troubled will be overused metaphors. Never "thug" or terrorism. Never... There's already a stance on "not knowing his motives," despite his initial targets having a distinct hue of Melanin. No word on the motives of the Pulse Nightclub shooter. Not even a word on the motives of the Las Vegas shooter. Nothing...
Perhaps it's simpler than that.
Paul Bloom in 2017 explored it in his New Yorker piece "The Root of all Cruelty?" In it, he comments on the philosopher David Livingstone Smith's book "Less Than Human: Why We Demean, Enslave, and Exterminate Others"; the historian Timothy Snyder "Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning"; "Virtuous Violence: Hurting and Killing to Create, Sustain, End, and Honor Social Relationships" by anthropologist Alan Fiske and psychologist Tage Rai; "Down Girl: The Logic of Misogyny," by philosopher Kate Manne, "One Long Night: A Global History of Concentration Camps," Andrea Pitzer and starts his piece with the apropos cultural Netflix series Black Mirror all to come to a single conclusion:
It is not that the Austin bomber or any other previous to this heinous act lacked an appreciation for the diversity of humanity. It may be that he realized despite his Internet screeds to the contrary, gays, women, minorities are all human...he just didn't care that they are. He "defined his stance" on his personal blog for the world to see. I've noted no news agency, save the Dallas Morning News has reported on it.
Anyone in a free society is free to hold any opinion that s/he wishes as long as it doesn't impact others negatively.
But for a malignant narcissist, that's not good enough. It is the "other" that's responsible for their pain. It is the "other" that must suffer.
Narcissistic personality disorder includes symptoms such as poor self identity, inability to appreciate others, entitlement, lack of authenticity, need for control, intolerance of the views/opinions of others, emotional detachment, grandiosity, lack of awareness or concern regarding the impact of their behavior, minimal emotional reciprocity, and a desperate need for the approval and positive attention of others "How to Recognize a Malignant Narcissist," Rhonda Freeman, PhD, Psychology Today.
And some with Napoleonic delusions of grandeur might be willing to burn the house down while standing in it. As the walls close in, he may use his vast powers to rain down nuclear Armageddon on the human species, versus doing a "perp walk." He might kill a cellist that was a model student and hoped to be a medical doctor. Now that dream is dust. Maybe Conditt knew him, and was jealous that the cellist, Draylen Mason was African American and his currency of whiteness only allowed him to take a few classes at Austin Community College. Whether he lived or died (the latter now reality), he'd be "famous." Pflugerville, Texas was shut down after his confirmed death in "an abundance of caution" to a discovered package. The currency of whiteness could historically get you any job in the idealized past free of "others" - the unspoken, underlying id of #MAGA. Maybe Conditt was expecting such luck, and resented it not working out for him. Even one you're hopelessly unqualified for - the US presidency as case-in-point, in probably the last, best example for all time of white male privilege.
This currency is a dividend we're all paying, whether we like it or not.
Sadly, there will be another, as there were over 600 similar threats after the Parkland shooting, that will try to one-up Conditt.
The difference of my youth to now is we're surrounded by a ubiquitous deluge of information: television, radio, satellite radio, Internet, blogs and social media apps, which can be accessed on cell phones, computers and I-pads.
I grew up in an era of ABC, CBS, NBC and a few UHF stations. There was no CNN or HBO. Television stations signed off at midnight. News wasn't instantaneously spread around. It took time. There wasn't a vast stage to visit cruelty on so many innocent "others"; instant fame and infamy for twisted psyches.
We've always had malignant narcissists. They just didn't have as many platforms for amplification and echo of their ego, mayhem and fame... or, the nuclear codes.