Monthly Archives: November 2017

Lust and the Male

Men are in bad odor these days – some very good men, like Al Franken, some very bad, like Roy Moore.

It’s imperative we limit the damage. Two facts, if we understand them, can help us.

First fact: Lust is an affliction. It is a life-long crippling in the male. I saw a 90 year old man die while lusting after a nurse in the ward. Lust is experienced briefly by women early in life and then evaporates. Shakespeare’s great sonnet, #129, in a mere 14 lines, says it all.

Th’ expense of spirit in a waste of shame
Is lust in action; and till action, lust
Is perjured, murd’rous, bloody, full of blame,
Savage, extreme, rude, cruel, not to trust,
Enjoyed no sooner but despisèd straight,
Past reason hunted; and, no sooner had
Past reason hated as a swallowed bait
On purpose laid to make the taker mad;
Mad in pursuit and in possession so,
Had, having, and in quest to have, extreme;
A bliss in proof and proved, a very woe;
Before, a joy proposed; behind, a dream.
All this the world well knows; yet none knows well
To shun the heaven that leads men to this hell.

Second fact: males are 20% bigger and stronger than women. That is the doings of biology. The other disparities between the two sexes are MALE-MADE. Males have seen to it that they, at the least, are 20% more favored than women in the world at large – given more prestigious jobs, elected or promoted to higher office, paid larger salaries, occupy positions of greater power.

The problem is, lording it over women doesn’t work. If it did, the male wouldn’t be suffering so terribly. Hammer blows rain down on him – savage, extreme, murd’rous, bloody. He gets through the battering only by suppressing a scream. He can’t escape the relentless damage of his infirmity – “the expense of spirit in a waste of shame.”

The world well knows, Lust makes a man mad in pursuit of woman, had, having, and in quest to have, extreme. It also knows his physical superiority over women doesn’t solve the problem. Beating up a woman gets him nowhere.

At issue is this:

Judging a man’s culpability in a lust-driven relationship is determined by what he has done with his male-made 20% advantage!

“It comes down to fallibility vs. criminality.”

Maleness generates enormous pressure on a man. It compromises his judgment. It reveals the fallibility of a good man, like Al Franken. It reveals the criminality of a bad man, like Roy Moore.

That judgment is for us to make.

Now what?

What do

Racism –

The Gun Lobby –

Belief in Genesis –

Monarchical government –

have in common?

They are all memes, informational entities identifying a group’s culture, and, like genes, transmitted to succeeding generations. The DNA of a gene identifies a single individual. Shared memes identify a group. Both genes and memes are subject to natural selection.

Memes are transmitted perceptually, not genetically. We transmit the meme for working a hula hoop from watching someone working a hulu hoop. Genes may last millions of years; memes may be as short-lived as the hulu hoop craze. A meme is information in a person’s head. Initially, we sit at our mother’s knee. Before long, a thousand others shape that information, thereby laying the foundation of our belief systems and group memberships. The longer a meme remains viable through the rough and tumble of natural selection, the more powerful its impact. The four groups listed above have survived at least five hundred years through many generations.

The Virginia settlers in the early 1600s brought slaves. From the very beginning, memes for race and racism became part of our culture and were transmitted to every succeeding generation. They survived through natural selection. Racism, the Gun Culture, Belief in Genesis, Usurping Monarchical government have been memetically transmitted for at least 500 years.

Firearms from the first Indian Wars through the settlement of the Wild West established the gun culture.

In the early 1500s, Martin Luther translated the Latin Bible into German, insisting God had verbally inspired every word, including, of course, Genesis. 500 hundred years later, highly intelligent clergy subscribe to the belief the dinosaur romped with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden – and built a 25 million dollar theme park on that belief.

Despite The Glorious Revolution of 1688, King George the Third called the shots in the 1770s, and monarchical arrogance, by committee, as it were, continues to blight present-day England.

These are mind-mangling memes, their pathologic potency undiminished generation after generation.

Wilfred Bion, my mentor, observed, “If the mind does not see what is obvious, there is nothing to be done.”

If one can’t see 300 million guns, including thousands of AK-47s, or the 100,000 victims of gun violence in our country every year – there is nothing to be done.

If one can’t see the absurdity of racism when simply comparing Barack Obama with Donald Trump – there is nothing to be done.

If one can’t see the ridiculousness of 200 billion galaxies giving place to the fable of Genesis – there is nothing to be done.

If one can’t see a monarchical tyranny over-riding government of the people – there is nothing to be done.

Wilfred is the only genius I knew personally. He understood the deep structure of 500 year old memes. Remember when 20 children, ages six and seven, at The Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, were gunned down in their classroom? Mass shootings come and go, but this! So President Obama established a commission, chaired by Vice-president Joseph Biden, to formulate gun-control legislation. Joe and the members of the task force worked months, often late into the night. Every proposal they came up with was supported by 60 to 90 % of the country.

And each and every proposal got voted down by the Congress!

How was that possible?

500 year memes, that’s how.

Now what!

Mangled Minds

RACISM –

For three years, I worked as a country doc in the bayou backwaters of Louisiana, before the Civil Rights movement. I had two offices strung along the river road sheltered behind the levee holding back the mighty Mississippi. If folks wanted a house call, they’d plant a white flag. If a flag beckoned at the tiny village of Killona, I’d tote my black bag into the sprawling slave quarters, shacks continuously occupied long before the Civil War; and every shack still occupied.

I was taking over the practice of the sheriff’s son, who was leaving for a surgery residency at Charity Hospital in New Orleans. This was before the Affordable Care Act or Medicaid, of course, so blacks formed small groups providing medical coverage. I would continue as their doctor. When introduced to the head of one such group, I shook his hand. The sheriff’s son slapped my hand away. “We don’t do that down here!” he barked.

Charity hospital was destroyed by Katrina – a nearly 3,000 bed hospital built in 1939 for the poor. Charity was split down the middle, one half for blacks, one half for whites, the halves a mirror image of each other. I had interned at Charity before going to the country. My first assignment had been Female Medicine. Each hospital ward had twelve beds. On the black side, I had 25 patients stuffed on gurneys, cots and mattresses; on the white side, I had three, luxuriating in splendid nursing care and quiet. Even the blood bank was separate.

I was one of 130 interns. Together with the Residents, we took all our meals in the Doctors Dinning Room. If race got brought up, the discussions turned violent. The docs were as structurally split as the hospital. Mangled mind stuff whizzed around the tables.

GUNS –

There are 300 million guns in the United States. 88 guns per 100 citizens. Second highest – Yemen, 54 guns per hundred citizens,

With 5% of the world’s population, Americans are home to 35-50% of civilian-owned guns.

30,000 – the number of Americans killed with guns each year.

More than 100,000 the number of people shot each year in the United States.

Americans overall are “25 times more likely to be murdered with a gun than people in other developed countries.”

Mangled mind-stuff whizzing around.

GENESIS –

I was raised in a Lutheran parsonage. My family boasted an unbroken string of Lutheran ministers reaching back to Martin Luther. As a child growing up in the 30s, when fellow clergy came to visit my dad, I’d hear them talk excitedly about an astronomer called Hubble and his galaxies, or about Einstein, “the smartest man who ever lived.” My dad gave talks on astronomy. Yet when it came to evolution, they all believed in Genesis. My dad remarked, “Dinosaurs are what is generally known as baloney.” Mangled mind stuff whizzing around.

DIVINITY OF KINGS –

My daughter married an Englishman, has dual citizenship, and lives in Milton Keynes, a city 30 miles north of London, designed and built from scratch after the last war. She is Chair of the Town Parish, elected but not salaried officials. She works 50 hours a week. Above the Town Parish comes The City Council, its members elected and salaried. Then there is The Central Government in London, Westminster and Parliament.

What she has experienced is that the Central government takes a large share of the taxes, imperiously dictates orders to every city and town in merry old England. In fact, with no constitution, the Central government carries on like King George the Third during the Revolutionary War. She understands all too well, “No taxation without representation.” The political structure is remarkably that of a monarchy. Mangled mind stuff whizzing around.

Question – What do

1. Racism

2. Guns

3. Genesis

4. Divine Right of Kings

have in common?

(to be continued)

Shame!

I used to resent self-aggrandizing claims of America’s exceptionalism, our country “Set on a Hill,” a Beacon of Light to the world. Why shouldn’t we belt out “God bless America!” – our home, sweet home.

I’ve changed. I am in a state of mourning. At times, I have intimations of terror. What has shocked me out of mind is that our democracy is so fragile! I had no idea. The realization of this truth came as a complete surprise. Obviously, I had never understood, “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.” In only ten months, less than a single year, our political institutions have not only been undermined, but transmogrified into a burlesque show, a vehicle for entertainment and make-believe. And exploitation.

Thomas Hobbes observed, “Hell is the truth seen too late.” Belatedly, I now can recognize America was indeed something special. For 240 years! Then Poof!

The Age of Enlightenment, those glorious centuries of Reason, became a living reality not only in the POLITICAL MIND of our Founding Fathers, but in their POLITICAL WILL. They wrote a Constitution. They signed it. They took it to the States for ratification. They elected a President and Congress. They created The United States of America.

And since 1789, our country has been governed by that political document. It established The Rule of Law. It placed governance, the most vital and far-reaching of all human activity, on a foundation of reason.

What has contributed to my state of shock is that no one saw this coming. The last president wielded his high powers as prescribed in The Constitution. No scandal touched his eight years in office. Under his Presidency, the country survived financial collapse. Economic growth was steady, the future roseate with promise. Our functioning as a democracy shone indeed like a beacon of hope across the world. Life was moving right along. So what happened?

WE LOST OUR SENSE OF SHAME.

Unlike guilt, which is personal, shame is a group experience. It is extraordinarily powerful. Shame destroyed Senator Joe McCarthy. At the Army-McCarthy hearings in 1954, before a vast television audience, Boston lawyer, Joe Welch, shamed McCarthy, “Have you no sense of decency?”

“Overnight, McCarthy’s immense national popularity evaporated. Censured by his Senate colleagues, ostracized by his party, and ignored by the press, McCarthy died three years later, 48 years old and a broken man.”

I was reminded of that event by John Kelly’s recent press conference, where he shamelessly lied. He is Chief of Staff to the president, for whom lying is stock in trade. Unlike Joe McCarthy, Trump’s utter lack of decency does not evaporate his “national popularity.”

What is beyond belief is the Russian Connection during the Trump election campaign. That’s treason. Is there a more serious crime than that? Isn’t that the most shameful act a citizen can commit?

So when the Republicans in Congress disregard treasonous behavior – Trump is a con man, impervious to guilt or shame – what is one to make of that? Is there any evidence that Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell feel ashamed of their party leader? or that they feel shame that they slap together, without attention or seriousness, legislation affecting 308 million Americans, focusing instead at keeping a few hundred politicians employed?

“Republicans, you’ve done enough. At long last, have you left no sense of decency”?