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Op-ed views and opinions expressed are solely those of the author.
At 7 p.m. each night, according to what I am told, supportive yelling takes place outside my home. All I can see is a mindless ruckus.
I look over each night at the last sensible person left in west coast lockdown land. Not yet 2-years-old, she grows terrified at the howls and shrieks and clanging and ringing and dinging that rises into a crescendo just as I gently reach over and slide the kitchen window shut.
She’s fine with urban life and its noise. What seems to throw her off is behavior that she can’t make sense of.
The man shooting heroin. The guys setting up a tent on the street. The drugged-out stupor. The deadbeats laying along the curb. She stares. Just as any normal person would do, at least until they reach an age where insanity is acculturated into them.
How do I stop that from happening?
How do I help her maintain her contact with logic and evidence, virtuous behavior that seems to accompany her in virtually each movement she makes during her calmer states? Each movement of hers seems to have a purpose at calm moments.
What happens that a two-year-old seems so well rooted in logic and evidence, with a hunger to know reality, but by twenty seems to become a ninny? With more data and more ability at his disposal, shouldn’t the twenty-year-old have learned to grow into a human who is more in touch with logic, more desirous of evidence, more ardent in pursuit of reality?
At 7 p.m. each night people act unhinged, and she reacts accordingly. It scares her. Justifiably so.
I don’t care what your reason is for acting unhinged, it doesn’t change the fact that you are acting unhinged. There aren’t many forgivable reasons. Nor can there be forgivable reasons for human droppings in every block downtown and spent needles. It’s more unhinged behavior from individuals in a failing society.
There are those who offer rationale for unhinged behavior and pretend that it makes the unhinged behavior acceptable. One has nothing to do with the other. One is a question of standards. The other is a question of attempting to understand motivations and circumstances for an individual. But to understand is not to excuse. Compassion does not call for low standards. Quite often the opposite.
A two-year-old understands standards and understands what is sub-standard. If I walked into the kitchen and grabbed a few blueberries without noticing one fall from my hand and roll under the refrigerator, I’m certain to hear about it. I’m certain to have my attention called to the abnormal occurrence and for there to be repeated communication on the topic until I correct the sub-standard.
Maria Montessori went so far as to write about a child’s needs for order, repetition, established ground rules, and routines, going so far as describing the age from 18 to 24 months as “the sensitive period for order,” in which small disruptions can cause big reactions from children when trusted adults are not mindful of the disruption to established order that has taken place. Far from being unhinged, children at this age have standards, often backed by logic.
Pointing to unhinged behavior, George Orwell referenced the Two Minutes Hate:
“The horrible thing about the Two Minutes Hate was not that one was obliged to act a part, but that it was impossible to avoid joining in. Within thirty seconds any pretense was always unnecessary. A hideous ecstasy of fear and vindictiveness, a desire to kill, to torture, to smash faces in with a sledge hammer, seemed to flow through the whole group of people like an electric current, turning one even against one’s will into a grimacing, screaming lunatic. And yet the rage that one felt was an abstract, undirected emotion which could be switched from one object to another like the flame of a blowlamp.”
That last sentence is so instructive. “And yet the rage that one felt was an abstract, undirected emotion which could be switched from one object to another like the flame of a blowlamp.” How easy to switch passion from one subject to another. We all know that. I wonder if a single person exists who has not released emotion in a worked up state that had nothing to do with the eventual recipient of that emotion.
Aristotle wrote about this difficultly of containing emotion within specified boundaries: “Anyone can become angry — that is easy, but to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right way —that is not easy.”
Many children who grew up in Detroit or Chicago in the 1990s received instruction on how easily celebration turns to fury and then to destruction and ultimately violence. After the Pistons won the NBA Championship in 1990, Detroit exploded in riots. Chicago had the same experience throughout the 1990s, year-after-year. I came of age watching this phenomenon unfold each summer.
You will perhaps forgive me, if I don’t take kindly to shows of outlandish passion for seemingly empty purposes, while shows of calm passion that matter are avoided. Chicago is illustrative beyond sports riots. Chicago, the persistent murder capital of the country has had some of the strictest anti-gun legislation since the 1950s. 79% of Chicago public school students leave grade school without grade-level reading proficiency in a city with one of the highest per capita expenditures in public schooling. Passionate community leaders and passionate politicians have long made a big show for the cameras, yet never improve the situation, merely oversee the decline into oblivion. They never get to the heart of the matter. It shouldn’t be controversial to point out that exerting passion calmly in ways that matter is superior to explosions of pointless passion.
It’s easy to make a ruckus. It’s hard to actually do something for the people you purport to make a ruckus in the name of. To elevate it to virtuous as you do nothing but make racket is dishonest. To pretend there is no danger to this rendition of the Two Minutes Hate while tensions run high is careless. Already Los Angeles, Minneapolis, and Memphis are erupting in riots fed by the needless tension generated by the governmental corona response.
What neighborhood is next? Much like their ignoring of protests to the lockdown, will the media even continue to report on riots when they take place? Or will they grow silent on that too, as they comfortably step into the role of censor as the Washington Post’s Silicon Valley Correspondent Elizabeth Dwoskin did this week, leading to the removal of the documentary Plandemic from a personal Google Drive? Or Martin Coulter of Business Insider, who bragged about his role last week in getting Dave Cullen’s Computing Forever interview with immunologist Dr. Dolores Cahill removed from YouTube ?
At 7 p.m. there is a blowing off of energy, a demonstration of love, some might say. How shallow to coop yourself and others up in such a way that anyone feels the need to blow off such energy. How strange that you show so little love and meaningful aid for the people you purport to support that you need such shows. Do something real damnit. Do something impactful. Instead of just virtue signaling.
What is the stated reason for grown adults acting unhinged each night? I don’t entirely care. Much like the shuttering of churches, the closing of businesses, the crippling of free human activity, and the mass house arrest of hundreds of millions in the period of corona communism, whatever the reason is, it doesn’t forgive the awful things taking place and the precedent being set. That’s right. If you have standards, the excuses don’t matter.
Even the two-year-old has standards. And she sees that something is wrong.
I’d love to know what’s wrong with the others.