Saturday, July 28, 2012

Karma Chameleons

I wanted to call this post 'My argument against anarchy', but that would have given away the point of this post. Oops. Anyway, this one is fancier.

 You know why I like to read The Times of India? It is a tabloid. It does not carry real news. It tells me that the celebrities made big mistakes with their life and services my insecurities. Actually, I wish I did that. I read the real news instead and everyday it is about rape, abuse and families destroyed for seemingly silly reasons. Major scale human rights violations. A lot of rage is brought forth and fatwa-equivalents are issued against all the evil-doers. So really what is in the mind of the offenders?

It is accepted that they are clinically sick. It is a disorder but it is not the victim's fault to bear! They are not just deranged, they are deranged masterminds. They know exactly what they are doing, but they are deranged just enough to not let a conscience bother them, while not too much so you can spot them with bright green hair when you see them. While a very impotent public psyche and judicial system deals with them (a future post will have more on this), there is still so sort of social/legal damage done to the offender, however inadequate.

This post will focus on some of the more not-illegal, social, psychological crimes that are just morality issues. I saw a tamil movie recently called Poraali that deals with this population. I just call them crazy people. Doctors tend to diagnose some of them with personality disorders. The rest of them, we just have to live with.

A big problem is that the only time we discover the mad side of crazy people too close to us is when it is too late and the damage has been done. Crazy people are not crazy all the time; in fact there is a crazy in all of us that we suppress to fit in with decent society.

We had a clogged sewage pipe in our house one day and we had to get some workers to manually climb into the sewage gutter to clear out the blockage. It was a hot summer day in Chennai and it took quite some work from the two men. I stayed with them to look at what they were doing and supervise if needed. After the problem was resolved, one of the men asked me for some drinking water. I quickly fetched him a glass of water from the kitchen. He drank it quick and requested for some more water, chilled this time. I grabbed a bottle of water out of the refrigerator and handed it to him. He and his colleague drank all the contents of the bottle and returned it to me with a thanks and a tired smile. As I re-entered the house, a cousin walked to me and asked me if I was stupid.
'Excuse me?' 
'Why would you give them water from a cup that we use to drink? And why the cold water?'
I frowned for a moment to allow the meaning of what she said to sink in. When it did, I looked at her for a couple of seconds and then walked away. I had understood her; I was not going to explain myself. She immediately realized what she had done.
' I didn't mean it like that! It is just that I did not want you to put the empty bottle back in the refrigerator!' Her face was flushed.

This is a very harmless example but the ideal response to these things is call bullshit. What she said was exactly what she meant. If she didn't mean it, she never would have said it. They know exactly what they are doing; they just don't have the fiber to keep down the crazy moment or accept the repercussions. They are real worried about the rest of the world identifying that part of them and judging them. 'Please do not judge me for my selfishness. It is because of work and stress!'

It is easy to fall for the excuse made. 'It was daddy issues'. 'It was the way I was brought up'. 'It was the loneliness.' 'It was the moment.' That is their trump card. But like Chris Rock says it 'Whatever happened to just plain Crazy?' There may be a story to it but it is their story! It is their behavior and even if it is a clinical condition, if they do not fix it no one else can. It is not for others to just deal with it so they can be selfish. All their effort is spent on trying to justify it with an unrelated past issue or get you to sympathize with their condition but they need to be putting effort on getting over themselves. These are people that can deal with or even cure their crazy, they just choose not to, and instead make you deal with it.

Bipolar disorder can actually be a systemic genetic disorder and bipolar patients who are attempting to deal with it will tell you, it is hard. But they want to not be like that and they are working on it. They do not need your sympathy if they are really working it.

The ones that do not want to face it, it is just plain selfishness. But unfortunately selfishness is not wrong, in fact it is synonymous with the pursuit of happiness which the Smiths will tell you, is not wrong. All morals are relative. No one can be judged because there are no rules with convenient and convoluted philosophies existing on both sides of the argument. They will make you swim and drown in their complicated justification for crazy behavior, so watch your back! We all have to live in this society. They cannot just take the rules when they work in their favor and take recess in the chaotic nature of the world when it suits them. If the universe is meant to embrace their craziness in the name of accepting randomness, why don't they embrace their own craziness too and put a knife to their cheeks? You could at least tell them out in a crowd and stay away, you don't want to get their disease!

For sane people, if you are right or wrong, you accept situations and live with it. If you think you need to justify anger, selfishness or conventional harm with a convoluted story - you are crazy, period. Normal people feel sorry and make up even if they did mean to harm.

As for the victims, the golden question is where is the karma? I do not believe in the concept. If the wife beater lives a wonderful life and never feels any regret, karma advocates would probably come up with some fantastic theory that serves to keep the concept running rather than getting the douchebag castrated. Or say something like a wife beater's life is bad anyway. He must have been abused as a child. I'll just say save yourself and stay away, it is not something you can fix or deal with. Run. Fly you fools.

There is another technique. Do you know why a lot of crazy people look like they are doing perfectly well? It is because they view the world in black and white. While that looks like a bad thing, a binary view of the world can really help you call out bullshit when you see it, so the other crazies cannot ruin their course of action. I do not advocate that you become crazy and oversimplify things but don't let anyone over-complicate it for you either and mask will fall on its own. Keep it simple.

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