Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A Few Thoughts On Special Bunnies

I filled up a couple of pages with random markings and then went to the kitchen to find something to draw...

A fellow named Dave recently added a comment to an old post of mine... If you're curious, read it here. Among other things, he wrote, "I believe strongly that something has gone wrong in our society....there's no respect anymore, and people DO feel entitled..."

Got to say, I agree. While I've seen that a certain feeling of entitlement can be a useful life tool -- it's hard to really try and achieve a goal if you don't think you deserve it -- there are way, way too many people out there who think that it's their world and the rest of us are just cluttering up the landscape.

I think that one of the problems is the notion that the central problem in the world is self-esteem -- I recently ran across a statement to the effect that the reason people behave badly is that they just don't have enough self-esteem. That Hitler wouldn't have been so darned mean if he'd just felt better about himself.

I don't buy that for a goddamned minute. I think Hitler felt a great deal of pride in what he did and thought it only proper that he be allowed to do it.

Rather than teaching children to love themselves unconditionally, I'd rather see them taught to work hard at being worthy of love. I think a certain amount of self-doubt is an important part of being a decent human being, that a capacity for shame and guilt is a necessary component in a fully-realized human being. They allow us to be conscious of our negative behavior -- and thus are the first requisite in controlling that behavior.

There's a desperate, pathetic need in our culture to feel special -- and a lot of people identify specialness with privilege. Special people live special lives full of special toys and everybody wants their share. They think they deserve the car, the boat, the babe... whatever.

The current economic disaster has its roots in these feelings -- the country has been eaten to the bone by a bunch of special bunnies who regard greed as a moral imperative -- whose self esteem has completely overridden their shame and guilt -- and this has been allowed to occur by a population of self-involved halfwits who believe that they are a pop song, a ball game, or a lottery ticket away from becoming special bunnies themselves -- and who spend and vote accordingly.

They don't aspire to the drive and discipline it takes to develop the superior set of skills it takes to do something really worthwhile -- they aspire to the privilege that those skills can earn a fortunate person. It's the luck that's special to them -- not the hard-earned abilities that make it possible to take advantage of luck.

I've been in a number of discussions where I've pointed to the Scandinavian republics as role models for industrial nations and the same idiot cry is always mewled forth -- "Their taxes are so high!"

Yeah, and they have their needs met. And everyone around them has their needs met. They don't have to watch the old and the crazy rot in the street. They don't have to worry about having their houses taken away if they get sick. And so on. And so forth. To run a country on the basis of what you'd like to be able to do if you were wealthy is a sure-fire recipe for disaster.

Just ask Iceland.

Look, no matter what your income is, you'll hit a state of emotional equilibrium that won't really be affected by your income, provided your basic needs are met. If the person who's unhappy because they have to brew their own coffee rather than go to Starbucks becomes rich, they'll soon find themselves unhappy because the thread count of the sheets on the cruise ship is inadequate.

Special bunnies are not special. They're assholes and assholes are about as common as you get.

Think about the special people in your life, the really special ones. What makes them special -- what they have or what they give?

Yeah, I want to be a special person. I work hard to be a special person. And the only way to really do that is to try and put more into the world than you take out. It's an impossible task, but if you don't at least make a serious attempt at it I really don't have a whole lot of time for you.

You special bunny...


robp said...

There was a study a couple years ago on men in prison. Apparently self-esteem runs real high among prisoners. Problem is, they're wrong. They shouldn't have that high a self-esteem. It's one of those things that should be earned but some people just have it anyway.

What people need is equilibrium. Self-esteem and others-esteem. It's how legitimate small businesses work, because they find out what their customers want and they sell it to them. And I don't think that's something you can do right if you don't genuinely believe it. Which is why I exclude big businesses from this equation.

I believe we're all in this together, people treating each other right has a domino effect and so does the opposite, and if you get hit by enough good dominoes you'll go in that direction. Lotta bad dominoes out there, and we have to fight that shit. People who've been pushed in the wrong direction so many times, well, they may not react like I want when I try to push the other way. Gotta keep pushin, just knowing some folk are gonna come back the other way.

Fuckin assholes.

Glendon Mellow said...

I like your statement about learning to be worthy of love rather than just loving yourself unconditionally.

In the Baby Boomer and post-Boomer generations, it seems a lot of people tend to have moments of making decisions only for themselves for their own happiness. I'm thinking of the stereotypical mid-life crisis.

Sometimes you have to suck it up and live for others.

Sean Craven said...

Rob, I actually mentioned the prison thing in an excised paragraph that got derailed when I said that another thing you find in prison is a love of Jesus...

And that's it exactly. Equilibrium. Enlightened self-interest. It can be a fine line, though.

To bring in Glendon's comment, I don't know how many times I've been talking to someone who did something that on reflection I saw as unreasonably selfish and out of personal fondness for them I found myself saying, "Well, you gotta do what's right for you."

I'd say it's more a matter of figuring out what the right thing to do is and doing it -- even, in some cases, if it's wrong for you or if, in the cases of martyr-types, it's right for you.

The whole boomer and post-boomer autophylia movement is one that seems to be reactionary -- it's a response to being expected to fit into the kind of social machinery that waged World War II. To a degree -- a limited degree -- it has value. We've just swung to far in that direction.

Humans are social animals; we exist in a context defined by other people. Even the most solitary humans cannot escape this -- they are defined by their solitude.

Given that, even if you place a high value on self and self-realization, the self is determined by its relationship with the other. It's like painting -- there is no such thing as a pure color. Every color looks different depending on the colors around it.

You can't be a fully-realized without taking others into account. It's been clearly demonstrated that one of the healthiest things a person can do is to serve the needs of others without expectation of recompense. This is standard and effective advice one gives to the depressed.

Frankly, a lot of selfishness -- and here I'm talking about the hyper-materialistic selfishness I see destroying much of industrialized culture -- seems to be an attempt to fill an aching void that can only be effectively addressed by altruism.

Hmmm... gonna have to do a post on altruism -- but I'm scared that I'll have to read some Ayn Rand to do it right and that shit looks nasty.