For Chrissakes, Don’t Connect the Dots!

Go ahead. Ignore history.
Go ahead. Ignore the dots, and, for chrissakes, don’t connect them!

If you are a tolerably intelligent and creative person, which I assume because you’re reading this, you will be surrounded by people who don’t dislike you but who are not really sure they know where to put you. Maybe it’s that you speak another language. Maybe you have interesting pictures on the wall. Maybe you don’t barbecue and guzzle sixpacs every summer weekend. Maybe you are Lesbian or just not safely tucked away in a conventional marriage. Maybe you and the person(s) in your household have different last names. Or maybe you merely drive an old car that you actually own. The list could be extended.

Any and all of these characteristics make John and Jane uncomfortable. (If you change the particulars in the above list, you can also migrate the situation down decades, centuries or millennia. But let’s stay right here, at the onset of the new dark ages.)
People do not like to be uncomfortable. People do not like to not know if the grass may be greener on the other side of the fence or the grapes really really sweet where they can’t reach them. People don’t like that. People will develop a resentment, but in most cases not be aware of it. They will chat will you across the fence or from driveway to driveway. Hubby over there may actually lend you some tools or explain how to swap a faucet. Nice neighbors.

But why is your TV not on? Why don’t you even have a TV? Why don’t you get drunk on the 4th of July? People don’t like to be uncomfortable, and you make them uncomfortable!

Worst of all, you are a nice person, a helpful person perhaps, caring and supportive when you sense a need on your neighbors’ part.

But there is nothing you can do. Your neighbors’ discomfort is a powder keg. Whatever they don’t know about you will be used against you. When the time comes. And the time may be now.

The only thing people in unconscious discomfort need is the relief of a common denominator, a führer or some such who taps into that discomfort and triggers a long suppressed reaction. Happened to J.C.. Will happen to you. How many fingers do you think are already pointing at you? What rumors do you think are circulated about you?

When things all over are bad enough –unconscious discomfort included, people need scapegoats. It is the nature of these animals, that we know nothing about them. Actually, it is required, that we know nothing about them. Because if we did, we would understand them to be no more than the most personable ruminants with no more interest in harming you than your pet rabbit. But because people don’t know anything about these critters, they can blame them for whatever makes them uncomfortable or scared. And once you know what’s “wrong” – even if it is total fiction – you can take care of it. Pop-pop fizz-fizz.

This dynamic may also explain why, to many people, fear, perversely, seems so enormously empowering. Which explains the humungous success of sickness advertising. The more unconscious a person is, the more the “unbearable lightness of being” – a.k.a. life – seems to seek relief by way of beer or an illness that presumably can be fought, or any other variety of scapegoat. “Now I know why . . .” even if it is bullshit.

All this explains why people join armies and put their lives on the line – senselessly – as long as they are sold the story that an eradication of “the enemy” would make it all alright. This is the rhetoric that made people vote Donald Trump into office, a cowardly bully, who pretends he knows how to make the discomfort go away.

Unfortunately, the story doesn’t end here because how he promises to do that depends on enemies that he will defeat. Like China or “the Chinese” or “the Mexicans” or . . . but wait! Since your neighbors’ aspiration for discomfort removal are now hitched to that “successful” leader, your neighbor will join the scapegoating party and add you to the enemies. After all, “1984” has, in recent weeks, been the top bestseller on Amazon. But go ahead. Ignore history. Go ahead. Ignore the dots, and, for chrissakes, don’t connect them!

Maybe to be continued . . .

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