Shaming In The Land Of The Free

Child, 4, Dies After Swing Set Collapses

The little boy’s father hit the nail on the head when he said, “A 4-year-old’s not heavy. Swings are made not to collapse, so it feels like we’re missing part of the story.” Sure! There is always an essential part missing from the understanding of how the astral/quantum field impacts our physical lives.

There used to be a time when the people believed that God gave life and that God took life and that only He had the right to do so. That said, several times a day across the globe, the media break the news that yet another person has died or been killed unexpectedly as the result of some form of human negligence. They raise the alarm about the possibility of wrongful death.

These days, more than ever, unless someone dies in his or her bed from the natural and observable causes of very old age, it is quite likely that, in the disbelief that this person ‘had’ to die on that particular day someone, perhaps aided by an investigative current affairs program will be demanding justice. Not from God, but from fellow humans, be they parents, staff, employers or a political party.

Seen or unforeseen, anyone’s passing is the final, hidden milestone of that person’s physical destiny, and it is intended as the catalyst for the upgrading of our path.

Still, the common subtext is that men, women and children become so distracted by their affairs that, they often cause not only their own ‘accidental’ death but also the ‘wrongful’ death of fellow human beings.

‘You have left us while doing your chosen dream. Now, you forever soar above the clouds. You dared to dream. You dared to dive,’ wrote the stricken daughter of a woman we shall call V who died during a skydiving accident. According to her daughter’s testimony, skydiving over the sea and experiencing the minute of adrenalin-fuelled freefall had been on her mother’s bucket list for many years.

So, to celebrate V’s 50th birthday, several family members and friends organised a road trip to a beach well-known for its 5000-meter skydive drop. The $279 skydive gift voucher which included a personalised certificate of achievement had been V’s surprise birthday present.

Four tourists jumped in tandem with an experienced instructor. One parachute got tangled and failed to open. V’s body, as well as that of the instructor, crashed on the beachfront esplanade. V’s husband is suing the skydiving group for negligence.

‘My wife should never have died from my birthday present,’ said V’s husband. ‘There should be rules and regulations to prevent such tragedies. Even if they are rare, it still amounts to occasional deadly carelessness.’

Internalised from that angle, Death, then, is no longer deployed by divine power or an irrevocable karmic decree released from the quantum universe. It is not orchestrated by a greater cosmic intelligence but by mere carelessness that creates ‘bad luck’, a tragedy.

Oddly, the modern mindset seems to be that most deaths could be postponed, if only all individuals took their responsibilities seriously; if a new or different law had been passed earlier; if all inhabitants of our suburbs and cities were placed under a meddling net maintained by a sort of Orwellian domestic control.

Equally dark are the assumptions of some that technology is either about to make death obsolete or that technology is about to make humans obsolete.

Mind-meandering tangentially, although, for now, the west is free of overt authoritarianism, there exists a pervasive, prying, small-town mentality, fortified by the media machinery and its distinct lack of empathy for the individuals it targets. It is fed anonymously by people’s obsessive interest in the family, personal and professional lives of others. Seldom has the ‘voice’ of obscure and invisible citizens been so powerful – so destructively powerful.

That voice of mostly unbudgeable, ego-based opinions is allowed the right to humiliate, at times destroy, people and organisations with a shoot-first/ask question later approach – though not taking any notice of eventual answers.

When public shaming holds people and organisations responsible for bad behaviour, that is positive, of course. However, this little mind-meander is cutting a corner to glimpse the energetic flipside of cyber shaming, a social menace driven by men, women and children of all ages that shows no signs of abetting.

As things stand, our worst moments, often relatively minor errors of judgment, can be recorded and, depending on our relative popularity, sold to the media or directly uploaded to the blogosphere. Most confronting for those who find themselves exposed is seeing their ‘sin’ flashed on their screens –in the home, a place that should always remain one’s inner sanctum.

Whether the ‘noise’ is someone’s idea of a joke, a revenge act, or finger-pointing with intent to hurt loses importance. Once the damage is done, it cannot be undone with a deletion.

Parental skills deemed deficient by an outsider when a child has a public meltdown tantrum, one’s work ethics questioned, one’s appearance devalued, aspersions cast about an individual’s mental state or character or a little secret revealed – all are considered fair go.

On those who binge on such denunciations, all have the same electrifying effect as the pulsating notes of the hunting horn when dogs and hunters smell blood.

Under an authoritarian regime, a fascist or theocratic state, as in ancient times, the anonymous probes and denunciations would lead to arrests, to being paraded through the marketplace and, possibly, to behaviour-modification therapies.

In the Lands of the Free, when facts are ignored and replaced by righteous outrage and, at times, furore, a growing majority of us, men, women and children live in fear of being branded as ‘less than’ or ‘not up to it’, the fear of being cut loose and so on. The resulting threat of ostracism and its implications settle in our heart and grip our thoughts.

Some agitators, armchair politicians and self-appointed guardians of morality, short on genuine factual research seem focused on the importance of ‘getting it right’, of ‘setting the record straight’, of ‘telling it like it is’. Others point the finger via social media and shrug dismissively. ‘I’ve spotlighted you and now get over it,’ is the best they can suggest. Be that as it may, the rest of us know that when moral fortitude is compromised, integrity, acceptance and empathy are absent from our own and our culture’s ethos.

Kneejerk measures adopted privately to answer a personal need or hurt or adopted publicly in response to fear and outrage seldom fix in the deepest sense of the word any complication. They have been too often known to make matters worse.

Yes, of course, well-articulated laws and regulations are necessary here, there and everywhere. They should be further refined and clarified as needed. Still, no method of human control is as effective as coherent, personal accountability.

For example, in a bid to assist the15 million Americans who provide unpaid care to a relative or a friend suffering from Alzheimer’s, should we encourage the notion that young blood may have anti-ageing properties that may assist dementia sufferers in the performance of daily tasks? The short-term benefits might be obvious to some but how potential complications might spin-out in the fullness of time cannot be entirely clear to anyone – not just yet.

Another tangential mind-meandering is too tempting to oppose, so here it goes.

People who are genuinely happy are resilient even as they have their own setbacks. They are resilient. They find it easy to be kind to others. They are ‘happy’ to share and give, even if they don’t have much themselves. They don’t mind extending doses of altruism, compassion and love to others on an as-needed basis. That said, only a minority of people in the three or four generations currently alive slot in that category.

Muhammad Yunus who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006 is clear about the equation between wealth, experiences, giving and life satisfaction. ‘Making money is a happiness’, he said before adding, ‘making other people happy is a super happiness.’

However liberating it is to entertain such thoughts, what is prevalent are the masses spiked by the subjective emotional triggers of suffering. Human interest stories, national, and international conflicts generate anger, fear, distress and resentment. They spawn rage and outrage.

World suffering is abundant. It is genuine. It deserves very real solutions. It needs to be alleviated. That said, in our 3-D lives, emotional responses, even the best-intended ones, seldom yield lasting, exportable, solutions. Even though only an unprovable karmic decree could have activated provable negligence, it should, of course, incur an appropriate penalty, in the here and now.

Many of us might dream along the lines of a quirky little saying: I want to be like a caterpillar. Eat a lot. Sleep for a while. Wake up beautiful. Instead, when cooperation is replaced by mistrust and contempt, we often become as daringly aggressive as Tsetse flies. Once we bite, no vaccines or medications can prevent infection and death might ensue.

With 350 million people around the world suffering from long-lasting, moderate or severe depression, not to mention those battling medium-level disappointment with their lives, it is easy to say that depression, not happiness, is one of the most common mental health conditions of our time. By nature of its effects on the body’s systems, depression is also one of the most common triggers for a gamut of critical health conditions and personal turmoil.

Too many children of all ages suffer: separation from parents often causes anxiety. Many develop a sense of worthlessness and inadequacy over school performance, their body image, their social status and their sexual orientation.

Too many women suffer: forced for the most part to balance several roles and identities in their day-to-day, they are more prone to work burnout than men. They lead the pack when it comes to depression. Think physical violence. Think sexual abuse. Think body-shaming. Think feeling unworthy. Bring to mind the enduring, pervasive anti-woman bias. Attempt answering the question: When a woman says one thing, and a man says another, who is believed?  See it, hear it in the workplace. See it, hear it in the streets. It’s on record – as a cohort, girls and women have always suffered.

Too many men suffer: many suffer as the economy changes the nature of traditional men jobs. Many of these are easier to automate than women’s jobs unless. Whether it is their ‘man boobs’, lack of pectoral definition or loose stomach that plagues them, men, too, suffer from a lack of body confidence.  They find it hard to talk about their mental health. Shouts urging man or boy to ‘man up or to ‘act like a man’ are destructive in their suggestion that hyper-masculinity is essential to the nature of men. The cultural pressure to be ‘low and mean’ is equally toxic.  Male sexual shame is real.

Too many elderlies suffer: they are vulnerable to negligence and abuse. Fear, insecurity, loneliness, and alienation is often their end-of-life lot.

Too many animals suffer: from pigs to dogs, cows and bears, they, too, have the right to live free from pain. However, whether domesticated or in nature, animals suffer when forcefully separated from their young, when their liberty of movement is restricted, when they are beaten or baited, when they are not treated for their diseases and injuries, when they are starved and/or dehydrated.

Humanity suffers: Childhood poverty morphs into adult poverty in developing countries and poor rural areas. The rest of us live in an era of unprecedented comfort and abundance. Nonetheless, when it comes to handling either comfort or abundance, we are as clueless as toddlers gifted a new puppy and a kitten simultaneously, causing the disturbing cycle of poverty to spiral out of control here, there and everywhere.

Planet Earth suffers: scorched earth in some places. Melting icebergs in other places. 40% of glaciers have disappeared from the tropical Andes in the past 40 years. The World Resources Institute states that more than 80% of the Earth’s natural forests have already been destroyed. Thousands of hectares of rainforest have already been cleared for soy crops and grains to sustain the environmentally damaging industry of farmed meat. Add the overgrazing of cattle. Add the production of more greenhouse emissions than by the combined transport industries. Add the petroleum industry that fuels virtually all aspects of the commodities we can’t live without along with coal power plants, strip-mined mountaintops and raw sewage drain the planet of her vitality. Once upon a time, couture houses and their carefully assembled garments were the benchmarks of fashion. It was a clean, creative industry. Today, the fast fashion industry is one of the dirtiest after that of oil.

Mind-meander continued in next file 😊

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