And Aaron said, “Let not the anger of my lord grow hot: you know the people, that they are set on mischief.” Exodus 32:22
As Americans we grow up with a strong sense of truth, justice and fairness. To a great extent this can be attributed to popular culture, and of course to our education system. We also believe our government will produce fair outcomes, and that when it doesn’t we can fight for our rights and receive redress and even correct the underlying problems. Other cultures do not have such a strong sense of justice or faith in government. As well, morality is more relativistic in other countries, and is often determined based on what’s best for one’s family or community than the country as a whole. For example, a traditional Islamic profession of loyalty is, “I would lie for you.” Of course, we suffered from our ignorance of this cultural difference in the Iraq War, due to blindly believing claims of one faction against another – typically tribal feuds of little relevance to our strategic interest.
The Superhero / Supervillain dynamic is also uniquely American. We admire the hero for restoring peace and justice, and perhaps even imagine ourselves in the role. Of course, the dynamic requires a villain who causes murder and mayhem. The prototypical example is Batman’s Joker, who relishes in the misery, death and destruction he causes as well as the spoils of his exploits. This guy is evil and he knows it. Another example is the TV show Matlock in the 70’s, which depicted a feisty lawyer who invariably got the defendants to crumble on the stand and tearfully confess their crimes. Of course, modern treatments are much more nuanced, even to the point of absurdity: the eponymous character of 2014’s Malificent was equal parts good and evil.
Of course, in reality humans typically are not aware of their own evil behavior. Typically most crimes are committed with denial and self-deception that convinces them that either they didn’t commit the crime, or it was completely justified. Some famous examples are OJ Simpson, Jodi Arias, and Casey Anthony. To this day they insist that they didn’t commit the murder of which they were accused, or at least they feel completely justified to lie about it. (They are probably guilty, but if not, the same argument applies to whoever is.) Similarly, Bernie Madoff sits in prison insisting that he was unfairly targeted: there was no significant fraud and if only he had been given more time he would have returned the money owed. He was the victim of a conspiracy.
Similarly, the drug store shoplifter rationalizes that the prices are exploitatively high. (And probably supports minimum wage laws for the same reason.) The fact that they usually steal luxuries such as tobacco paraphernalia puts the lie to the ‘poverty’ claim.
We may not always do the right thing, but we never do the wrong thing. We never say, “I knew it was wrong but I did it anyway.” We are master justifiers. When confronted with our sins and mistakes we are quick to rationalize. Of course, this is the story of The Fall: Adam blamed Eve, and Eve blamed Satan. “Not my fault – The devil made me do it.” And yet popular culture gives children the opposite message: the bad guy is very aware of his evil nature, and in fact relishes it. If you are evil you’d know it; if you didn’t know it you must be good – so don’t worry! (In the Koranic version of the story, Adam and Eve are already aware of their sin in the presence of God and immediately beg for mercy.)
How to explain this contradiction between idealized and actual human nature? In fact, most children understand it implicitly just like they can naturally distinguish between fantasy and reality without formal instruction. We are still competent to judge our peers even if they are not wearing a colored hat or laughing maniacally.
But sometimes the rift becomes real. James Holmes struggled to reconcile the conflict using the concepts and tools of modern neuroscience, with of course disastrous consequences. No doubt he now feels like an idiot for demanding an answer to a question that even children naturally intuit.
Mental Illness and Addiction
We reconcile this discrepancy with ‘mental illness’ and ‘addiction’. If a person who is not obviously evil commits a crime, and admits it, then they are likely mentally ill, especially if they have a history of treatment and medication. Eddie Ray Routh was a mischief maker since childhood and even had a history of killing small animals. But when he killed Chris Kyle at the gun range, people were quick to explain it as PTSD and psychosis. He even stole Kyle’s truck which he was openly envious of. Despite his history of mischief, the murder was caused by ‘irrational’ thinking. It was a malfunction in his brain – a kind of malfunction that doesn’t let him know his brain is malfunctioning, according to the modern theory of ‘mental illness’. Only afterwards does he realize it was ‘wrong’. Thus, he was experiencing temporary ‘denial’. Ironically, if he had denied committing the crime, this would be interpreted as consciousness of guilt and would have confirmed his sanity. Of course, the reality is that he’s a long time trouble maker and wanted to kill Kyle because he felt slighted by him, and justified his death by comparing him to a subhuman pig. He probably got some ironic pleasure at killing America’s deadliest sniper. But in the prevailing psychological framework, crime requires either denial or an evil villain. Anything else must be mental illness.
Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper cleverly promotes the mental illness story line by portraying Chris Kyle himself as a victim of it (PTSD, Substance abuse, and depression) and uncontrollable emotions. For example, Kyle becomes enraged when the nurse refuses to pick up his crying baby. It seems almost like he wanted to kill her. And then at the end of the movie, Kyle handles a gun very irresponsibly. This propaganda is calculated to increase sympathy for the mental illness defense (if Kyle had it then maybe Routh did too). And to promote gun control: “If you play with fire….” I’m not saying that Kyle is a saint. He probably wasn’t. (For example, he lost a million dollar lawsuit against Jesse Ventura after falsely claiming that they got into a fight.) But that doesn’t mean that he’s mentally ill. It just means that he doesn’t want to control his emotions just like everyone else. Fortunately it seems that Eastwood’s strategy will fail in court, even if it wins the hearts of Oscar judges.
The purpose of modern psychological mental illness theory is to allow us to blame our brain chemistry (modern day medieval humoralism) instead of our own rational thoughts and choices. For example, psychologists are quick to claim that depression is an illness, even though the people who have it have generally have pretty obvious reasons to feel unhappy. That is not to say that pharmaceuticals don’t help (though they probably don’t), but certainly, their use should not be used as ‘proof’ of an illness. In fact, many mass murderers were under psychological and pharmacological treatment. Which begs the question of whether treatment helps or hurts: if you teach a child that if you come from a ‘good’ background and do something bad then you must be ‘mentally ill’ then don’t be surprised if some children embrace and accentuate their mental idiosyncrasies. Again, this need not be conscious. We are master justifiers and master manipulators. Especially those of us with a history of lying, aggression and sociopathy, or as they would call it, a “bad rap”.
Similarly ‘addiction’ is cover for mischief, typically anonymous sex and/or petty theft/grand larceny/child abuse. Later it graduates to ’13 Stepping’ in the rooms. As well, ‘Recovery’ is used to hold others hostage to their precious sobriety: “Cosign my car loan or I’ll get drunk and have a baby with a creep I met at a meeting (and you’ll have to raise it while I’m out partying).” Or, “I’ll drive the wrong way on the highway and kill an innocent person.” Of course, the addicts will claim it’s a ‘disease’. But there is absolutely no medical evidence for that, despite heroic attempts by scientists to detect it. In this case, the addict doesn’t deny the mischief and crimes, but simply argues they were the result of a disease, and therefore not really their fault. When in fact, the mischief and crime was the whole point of drinking and drugging in the first place. Some ex-addicts have started to admit that the disease claim is a lie.
Again, addiction is usually self-deception at work. In most cases they really believe that “Looking back, it seemed we kept drinking long past the point we could stop on our own will power.” Even as they start their drunkalog with “I was a born liar and master manipulator.” Their self-deception is evident when their own drunkalogs are read back to them — they will say: “You are twisting my words!” (And of course they will produce endless excuses for refusing to post them — every addiction story falls apart under a little scrutiny.)
In fact, drugs themselves are not addictive, and there is increasing awareness of this simple fact. Of course, they are fun. Up to a point. Like a song or a joke, there is only so long you continue to appreciate it before it gets tiresome. People typically cycle in and out of AA for decades during their youth, and only return and ‘get it’ in middle age. This is when they’ve gotten tired of that lifestyle, even if they claim that they were going to die from their cravings. This is of course a lie: they took alcohol/drugs because they enjoyed it and they stopped when it wasn’t fun anymore. It’s as simple as that. Of course, they tell the newcomer they will surely die from their cravings unless they join the cult (or “if you don’t believe you’re going to die then go back out and keep drinking, our hat’s off to you”), and this brainwashing actually causes the epidemic of suicide by poisoning in this country. (Conveniently, they tout the resulting deaths as proof of the ‘disease of addiction’.)
The Problem of Suffering
According to the Bible, our suffering and toil is punishment for the ‘original sin’ of wanting to be like God. Of course, it makes no sense why God would be so cruel to us for innocently eating an apple. For this reason, many resent God, or at least the idea of God: what kind of parent would want their child to suffer? But in fact, our suffering is just the ‘other side of the coin’ of our knowledge of good and evil: if you do the right thing and resist temptation, then you will suffer the ache of unfulfilled desires.
However, God is actually ‘demonized’ for this in popular culture, and it is used as a reason to disregard His Commandments. Why should we follow the rules from such a cruel source? American Sniper was full of anti-religion propaganda such as the church preacher scene, and Christianity and Islam were held in the same low esteem, as evidenced by subtle ridicule. In the same way, Satan has been discredited over the centuries even though the original meaning was as a warning of self-deception. (Satan is known as the “Great Deceiver”.) Any mention of ‘Satan’ results in an immediate shutdown (“no credible person believes in ‘Satan'”). Similarly, religious belief is seen as a pathology in itself, and the cause of world strife. Of course, all religions are different, and some are more amenable to peace and prosperity than others. In fact, far more mass murders have been committed in the name of godless communism (government as god) and under Hitler, who believed he was god.
We cannot avoid suffering – whether from our own unfulfilled desires, or as a result of others’ desire to protect, defend, and deny the mischief that exploits us. The best we can do is hold others accountable to their self-deception.
The Problem of Evil
Many are quick to ridicule public displays of the “10 Commandments”, even though they offer no robust alternative. As a result, many children learn their morals from horror movies and Law and Order re-runs. No wonder they end up as mass shooters or joining ISIS, attracted by highly produced videos showing violence more appealing than video games and with the promise of women compliant to their will. The purple dinosaur doesn’t stand a chance. Of course, we explain their behavior as a religious obsession – the brain malfunctions in such a way that it doesn’t know it’s malfunctioning – modern day demon possession. This follows naturally from the belief that all religion is “the opiate of the masses.” In fact, if ISIS members snort heroin they can always later claim their mischief was caused by addiction – either to get money to support it or due to poor judgment while high, depending on which they believe will engender more sympathy.
The real cause of ISIS’s evil is our mutual refusal to recognize the cult as a manifestation of natural mischief coupled with monumental self-deception — and our military industrial complex is happy to take the bait even though fighting them only creates more mischief from which the cult thrives (truly a hydra).
How can God allow such evil? Indeed that is the very question that George Soros must have demanded as he accompanied the Nazis as a teenager as they killed his relatives and plundered his community’s riches. Where is God? The answer is that just as we must recognize satan as self-deception, so God is awareness and acceptance. In modern times we have become like God – nothing we can imagine will be withheld from us. So the question is not why God allows evil, but why we allow it. We need not. But then suffering is the price we must pay, as exemplified by the Bible story of Job, long-suffering but faithful. And that is our quandary.
Children crave education of right and wrong, and when we refuse to discipline them for increasingly intentional aggression and misbehavior or fail to chastise ever more intricate confabulations, they will continue to act out in desperation for boundaries. Testing those boundaries is of course a legitimate learning strategy, and a common outcome of our failure to engage is that some will retreat into themselves — this is the main contributor to the autism epidemic. The remainder will become criminals and may join ISIS or AA. The worst cases will end up as lawyers or politicians. (Actually most kids will figure things out on their own and will turn out fine, if a bit neurotic.)
Prevailing parenting wisdom indulges the child’s every whim and refuses to express anger or judgement at any cost for fear of hurting his fragile self-esteem, or perhaps a desire to befriend him — just as Aaron begged Moses for forbearance. God’s Commandments seem almost quaint to the modern ear:
And these words, which I command you this day, shall be in your heart, and you shall teach them diligently unto your children. Deuteronomy 6:6
Ironically many of these parents idolize Science, assiduously following the research on the correct way to praise your child, and believing that such a strategy is supported by ‘scientific consensus’. But of course many health professionals and science journalists are beholden to the mental health industry and the 12 Step mischief cults. Parents actually believe that the resulting addictions and mental illnesses are the result of scientifically validated brain malfunctions that cause it to be unaware of its own malfunctions that coincidentally result in mischief and suicide. And for which they eagerly contrive plausible sounding pseudoscientific theories often linked to vaccines or ‘seratonin levels’ and ‘dopomine recepters’ — a natural outcome of their own childhood habit of self-validating manipulations and justifications. The Family Religion adopted to escape and explain away suffering actually causes it.
Knowing Good and Evil
The challenge we face may seem insurmountable: not only don’t we teach morality to our children, we also spurn those who profess it; we ridicule religions that require teaching it (and actually blame the evil in the world on them), and we believe that children will know morality naturally if raised in a loving and tolerant household. To top it off, we believe that we are not evil – because we’d surely know it if we were.
George Soros’ Open Society Foundation can take some credit for this situation by promoting “health care parity” in mental health treatment. However their funding of the Drug Policy Alliance has succeeded tremendously in decriminalization attempts, which has the opposite effect. They are engaged in a faux battle with Mel Sembler’s Drug-Free America Foundation (which promotes criminalization and coercive 12 Step treatments), but Soros is winning, and the resulting legalization will make the fact that addiction is completely fake all the more obvious.
In the meantime, they will persist in their mischief – wars, sexual coercion, wrongful enrichment, and exploitation of the masses. And we will persist in ours, equally eager to defend and deny it in a self-reinforcing cycle of self-deception. However, the truth will become evident as the 12 Step cults and the lies of its apologists are exposed.