Monday, July 15, 2013

The Cancer Blog: Week 25

My Health

This blog within a blog will discuss cancer and all of my fears, hopes and expectations for a positive outcome—full and complete recovery. In addition, I plan to throw in some latest medical research. All cancer patients are interested, to some degree, in research and the latest medical findings; I am no exception. 

Today is Day 210 living with cancer.


“Bitterness is like cancer. It eats upon the host. But anger is like fire. It burns it all clean.” 
― Maya Angelou

Act Of Freedom: “What is a rebel? A man who says no.”
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Is anger allowed?; not freely, and any outward expression of it might soon become illegal. Perhaps an exaggeration on my part, but not one without merit. There are members of society who want to criminalize anger, most being women and those in the “helping” professions. It’s important here to make a distinction between anger and abuse, and anger and rage, an uncontrolled emotion, a distinction often not understood well by such policy-makers. Not all anger leads to physical abuse and violence; most does not, and the argument made that it does fails to follow the facts of human nature.

What I want to raise here is the issue of good and necessary anger, what the biblical narrative refers to as “righteous anger,” one which is cause-directed to bettering both the place of the individual and humanity in general. This differs from unspecified anger, or rage, which has no higher purpose and leads to harm and destructive tendencies. The latter is detrimental to society; the former a positive force of change.

Yet, such important distinctions are lost and not well-understood by the majority of social workers and other “do-gooders,” who say they have “the best of intentions” to engineer society according to their limited and restrictive ideas of morality and social norms. For such people all anger is bad, and all individuals who display anger either need behavior medication or anger-management courses or both—as if a human emotion can and ought to be managed. (Beware of those who say they have such good intentions and protest the “need” of such programs.)

That they lack understanding, compassion and the intellectual ability to effect such changes in a human fashion does not deter such individuals, certain of their rightness, certain of their convictions and unwavering in their views.

Let’s face it: social workers, and the education they receive, generally conspire to move society in inhumane directions. Yet they remain convinced, dogmatic in their views, that they are generally bettering society. So did the policy-makers of the Soviet Union in their views on the New Soviet Man. Believing something is true is not the same as actually doing good. Often, it’s the opposite. Consider the following, by Igor Kon, on the dangers of creating an Utopian Society based on the New Soviet Man:
The lack of individual responsibility is a product of decades of living under limited freedom. People get used to oppression. This has always happened with totalitarian regimes. I remember, I was greatly surprised to meet people with a similar mentality in East Germany, a country that has always been very different from Russia. This happened during the unification of the East and West Germany. I saw fright in the eyes of the East Germans, the same reaction as I see here in Russia–people do not know what to do. There is a psychological term for this – the acquired helplessness syndrome. The syndrome is usually manifested in social pessimism and lack of self-confidence. The acquired helplessness syndrome is the main feature of Soviet mentality and unfortunately it is prevalent among senior citizens.”
Note that Kon writes that it leads to “acquired helplessness syndrome,” which is very much evident today in the West among the younger generation. For such policy-makers, diminishing humans and their ability to make decisions and act human are part of their goals to fashion a society based on the New Western Man, a clone of the Soviet Union’s failed policies. Theirs in a clear black-and-white view, and much like the old cowboy movies, the good wear white hats and the bad wear black hats. Subtly and sophistication escapes them, like much of everything else human. They fear anger as they fear everything human. 

 The dictum to never allow emotions to lead you or ever guide you, including love and anger, is their raison d’être, their defense; and yet although this argument has merit in some cases, such an universal application to an idea hardly ought to apply for all cases—by doing so, it becomes an inflexible, unbending rule applied without thought or understanding, let alone wisdom.

Surprisingly, some people are dimly aware of their lack of understanding, always protesting that “we have your best interest,” or “we are there to help you.” Such is what such individuals say but hardly what they do. Their actions belie their words. What such people do is damage the soul of individual freedom, autonomy and self-expression. These are the fundamentalist little minds of censorship. Their view is a small circumscribed view where every person ought to think similar thoughts and hold similar views. And which views? Their views.

Governments like such people—the social workers—who enact their authoritarian and controlling views on society, doing the work of eliminating a necessary human emotion, namely Anger. If you criminalize anger— and that is essentially what is beginning to take shape today—then you give consent to governments and their various public and para-public agencies to lock up, narcotize and institutionalize individuals who are angry at social injustice, angry at government and corporate abuse and angry at personal injury and insults— and thus criminalize any and all dissent. 

This brings about a fearful society of conformists and collectivists, where the individual is made small, insignificant and unthinking. It’s happening already. Erich Fromm [1900-1980], the noted psychologist and humanistic philosopher warned about this danger decades ago: “The danger of the past was that men became slaves. The danger of the future is that man may become robots.”

Here is something else to consider. As much as some fear anger, it is hard to forget that such a powerful emotion has shaped and influenced much of our great literary tradition, including most notably some of the world’s greatest tragedies. To deny anger is to deny human emotion, and thus humanity in general. The question here is whether you think that such is a good thing. 

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