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Getting Real : Speak your peace

Grow The Fuck Up

from fragiletiger - Friday, April 27, 2007
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Nobody “made” you do it…

Was it just me or did anyone else find the media circus around the Virginia Tech shootings to be just sickening? You could see all the news organizations slavering over the massacre like they’d just found a free all-you-can-eat buffet. It was almost as bad as the 9-11 feeding frenzy.

I refused to watch the “videos” that Cho sent. I saw a short clip on the news and then turned it off. I did, however, read some excerpts from them. Aside from his obvious mental health issues, it struck me that his attitude was a heaping serving of “avoiding any responsibility for your own feelings and behavior”, with a generous double-scoop of “entitlement” for dessert. “They” made him do it. He was driven to it. He deserved better. He should get what he wants regardless of his own behavior.

Abusive husbands give the same reasons for hitting their wives.

Unfortunately, we seem to have created a culture of responsibility-avoidants who want to have their self-pity cake and eat it too. I’m not sure when it started, but it seems that this truly is the “blame somebody else” generation. We’ve elevated self-pity to a cult-like status. Instead of kicking people in the ass and telling them to get over themselves, they are told they are all special and that they deserve whatever they desire.

Cho acted like a freak and then complained about his perceived treatment by others. Yeah, he was an extreme-case nutbar, but how many people out there do exactly the same thing, only to a lesser degree? They seldom look in the mirror when trying to assess why their lives and relationships are fucked up. My mother used to say, “If you have a problem with one or two people, fine. Maybe it’s a personality conflict - it happens. But if you have a problem with a whole bunch of people and you can’t seem to get along with anyone, well, the only common denominator is YOU, and you have to look at your own behavior and what you are doing to affect your relationships with others.”

My mother kind of reminds me of Maestra in Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates by Tom Robbins. Through Maestra, Robbins captured the essence of what I have long believed to be true about depression and self-pity:

Switters was instantly reminded of something Maestra had said almost twenty years before:

“All depression has its roots in self-pity, and all self-pity is rooted in people taking themselves too seriously.” At the time, Switters had disputed her assertion. Even at seventeen, he was aware that depression could have its chemical causes.“The key word here is ROOTS,” Maestra had countered. “The ROOTS of depression. For most people, self-awareness and self-pity blossom simultaneously in early adolescence. It’s about that time that we start viewing the world as something other than a whoop-de-doo playground, we start to experience personally how threatening it can be, how cruel and unjust. At the very moment when we become, for the first time, both introspective and socially conscientious, we receive the bad news that the world, by and large, doesn’t give a rat’s ass.

Even an old tomato like me can recall how painful, scary, and disillusioning that realization was. So, there’s a tendency, then, to slip in to rage and self-pity, which, if indulged, can fester into bouts of depression.”

“Yeah, but, Maestra –”

“Don’t interrupt. Now, unless someone stronger and wiser — a friend, a parent, a novelist, a filmmaker, teacher or musician — can josh us out of it, can elevate us and show us how petty and pompous and monumentally USELESS it is to take ourselves so seriously, then depression can become a habit, which, in turn, can produce a neurological chemical imprint. Are you with me? Gradually, our brain chemistry becomes conditioned to react to negative stimuli in a particular, predictable way. One thing’ll go wrong and it’ll automatically switch on its blender and mix us that black cocktail, the ol’ doomsday daiquiri, and before we know it, we’re soused to the gills from the inside out. Once depression has become electrochemically integrated, it can be extremely difficult to philosophically or psychologically overrride it; by then it’s playing by physical rules, a whole different ball game. That’s why, Switters my dearest, every time you’ve shown signs of feeling sorry for yourself, I’ve played my blues records really loud or read to you from The Horse’s Mouth. And that’s why when you’ve exhibited the slightest tendency toward self-importance, I’ve reminded you that you and me– you and I: excuse me — may be every bit as important as the President or the pope or the biggest prime-time icon in Hollywood, but that none of us is much more than a pimple on the ass-end of creation, so let’s not get carried away with ourselves. Preventative medicine boy. It’s preventative medicine.”

“But what about self-esteem?”

“Heh! Self-esteem is for sissies. Accept that you’re a pimple and try to keep a lively sense of humor about it. That way lies grace– and maybe even glory.

All the while that his grandmother was assuring him that he was merely a cosmic zit, she was also exhorting him never to accept the limitations that society would try to place on him. Contradictory? Not necessarily. It seemed to be her belief that one individual’s spirit could supersede, eclipse, and outsparkle the entire disco ball of history, but that if you magnified the pure spark of spirit through the puffy lens of ego, you risked burning a hole in your soul. Or something roughly similar.

The problem with society today, is that we INDULGE that self-pity, rage and depression. It’s cool to be depressed. You get attention that way, right? Instead of encouraging children to be the best they can be, it seems too many people simply imbue their kids with a sense of entitlement without any expectation of the hard work it takes to make your way in the world. We tell them they can have anything, BE anything they want, but we neglect to tell them that those things might take real work and effort, and that sometimes shit happens. It should all be easy, right? And if it’s not, then somebody else must be to blame.

I think it’s pretty clear that I’m not one to put up with people blaming someone else (or circumstance) for their choices. I wouldn’t accept that kind of behavior from my kids, even when they were quite young. I remember when my sons were 7 and 8. In the midst of some kind of argument the oldest hauled off and hit his younger brother. After separating them and getting two different stories, I managed to piece together some semblance of the truth. The youngest was bugging his older brother, and pushing his buttons. My oldest was ADAMANT that his brother made him lash out with his fist, “He should have known that when he bugs me like that, I’m going to hit him! He made me do it!”

“Oh”, I said, “So he grabbed your hand and hit himself with it? Is that what happened? Because that’s the only way I know of that he could MAKE you hit him.”

“No”, he replied sullenly, “But he KNEW.”

“The truth is that you CHOSE to hit him. Nobody MADE you. Yes, he was deliberately bugging you and winding you up. He’s not innocent in this, but you had other choices besides hitting him.”

“I didn’t have any other choices! He made me!”

“I think you need to sit here and think about what other choices you DID have, and when you can tell me at least 3, you can come downstairs again.”

He burst into tears, refusing to admit that there could have been another way, so I left him on the stairs to contemplate his options

It took about 10 minutes, but he finally called out in a wavering voice, “I’m ready to talk about my choices now, Mom.”

Over the years, if there is one thing I have hammered on them, it is that THEY are the masters of their own destiny. They choose, and they are responsibile for their choices.

They also know that they don’t have a free pass and instant right to whatever their heart desires. They have the right to work hard for what they want out of life, and if it doesn’t come their way, then they have the ability to choose to do something else.

My youngest was the subject of some bullying in junior high school. He didn’t want me to intervene with the school (in many cases, that unfortunately makes it worse), but we had many talks about what things he might be doing to set himself up. I told him that nobody can make him feel inferior without his consent - that he has to figure out why he cares about things said by people he doesn’t like or respect. At the time he didn’t want to acknowledge that he might actually have some part to play in making himself a target, and in choosing to feel upset, but underneath it all, I think he knew the truth. I have to wonder if that doubt - that crack in his self-pity was the beginning of him finding his footing and learning to not be bothered by the opinions of people who don’t matter. It was a rough time, and I was worried about him, but I also trusted in him figuring things out for himself, with some guidance on the home front.

By the end of high school, he’d had a change of environment and was doing just fine socially, and we talked about that earlier time. He told me he looked back and realized that he very much brought it on himself. “I totally understand now what I was doing that was just messed up.” Yeah, there were guys that were assholes, but there were also things he could have done differently. His whole attitude about acceptance and friendship changed in high school, and it showed. He had a new-found self-confidence and independence.

That Cho was mentally ill was unquestionable. Kids can be cruel - especially to outsiders, but it seems that Cho went out of his way to marginalize himself in order to prop up his hatred and sense of alienation, and I wonder if anyone important in his life really did anything to challenge that warped perspective. He occupied the extreme end of the self-pity spectrum, but stop and ask yourself if you don’t see some of his attitudes and responsibility avoidance cropping up in your life or the lives of those you know.

Hindsight is always 20-20, but in this case we will never know if anything could have been done to prevent these murders. However, if people used this as an opportunity to examine their own attitudes and behaviors, and especially to examine what they teach their children about responsibility and entitlement, perhaps those deaths won’t be completely meaningless.

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from fragiletiger
Saturday, May 05, 2007 - 15:37

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from rainy
Monday, April 30, 2007 - 01:44

Oooh, the bitches aren't gonna like this.

(reply to this comment)
from conan
Sunday, April 29, 2007 - 23:33

Average visitor agreement is 2.5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 2.5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 2.5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 2.5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 2.5 out of 5(Agree/Disagree?)
I was going to write my own article but didn't think this topic needed two threads so I'll post my diatribe here, unless you object, tiger.

Justifiable Outrage? With apologies to the survivors of the Virginia Tech shooting;

Let me start by saying that I extend my deepest sympathies and most heart-felt condolences to the families of the victims of the Virginia Tech massacre. It was a tragic event and I’m sorry for the egregious loss of life. But I don’t care!

Does the unfortunate deaths of 32 American collegians warrant the cessation of our lives as a nation to the point where VT pins are being worn across the nation at nationally televised events? Is our nation so fragile, that losing some college kids and a professor or two will affect our collective lives? Do I really need to know that the crazy kid who went and popped his guns off was actually certifiably crazy? I think most of us came to that conclusion as soon as we heard what he did. Was it worth the Commander in Chief to ‘leave the war’ to go and get his face time in attending a rally to ‘overcome’ the tragedy? Do athletes that are not from the Virginia area, don’t play ball in the area, or didn’t go to that school need to wear patches and lapel pins, tie clips, embossment on uniform or cap, etc., to prove that they are American enough to be accepted?

Sports events across the country paused for ‘moments of silence’ in memory of those killed, etc., etc., yada, yada, what have you. Bleah! Enough already! This wasn’t a national tragedy. It was an isolated incident.

Again, I don’t want to take anything away from the tragedy, but let’s keep this in perspective a little bit. The following is a Reuters report online on the same day (April 16, 2007) that Seung-Hui Cho went on his rampage, and this is what happened in Iraq alone that day:

BAGHDAD - A roadside bomb known as an explosively formed projectile killed a U.S. soldier and wounded two others in a southern section of Baghdad, the U.S. military said in a statement. An Iraqi interpreter was also wounded.

FALLUJA - Two U.S. soldiers were killed and two others wounded in a roadside bomb attack in the city of Falluja on Saturday, the U.S. military said.

ISHAQI - A suicide car bomber targeting a police directorate killed nine people and wounded 10 others in Ishaqi, 100 km (60 miles) north of Baghdad. Ten cars were destroyed.

BAGHDAD - Gunmen killed a U.S. soldier on patrol in southwestern Baghdad, the U.S. military said. One other soldier was wounded. A roadside bomb also killed a U.S. soldier and wounded another in southern Baghdad.

MAHMUDIYA - Mortar rounds killed three people and wounded 18 in Mahmudiya, about 30 km (20 miles) south of Baghdad, police said.

MOSUL - Gunmen killed Mohammed Abdullah al-Zubaidi, a senior member of the former Baath party in western Mosul, about 390 km (240 miles) north of Baghdad, a medical source at the Mosul morgue said.

ISHAQI - Gunmen kidnapped five civilians in their cars in Ishaqi, police said.

NEAR HIMREEN - Gunmen kidnapped nine workers and killed one on the way to Himreen, about 90 km (55 miles) north of Baghdad, police said.

MOSUL - Gunmen killed 13 soldiers and wounded four in an attack on an Iraqi army checkpoint near Mosul, police said.

FALLUJA - The bodies of seven people were found shot in the Sunni stronghold of Falluja, police said.

MOSUL - Gunmen killed Talal al-Jalili, the Dean of the Political Science College, in a drive-by shooting in Mosul, police said.

BAGHDAD - U.S. forces killed three Iraqi policemen in a case of friendly fire during a raid against suspected al Qaeda militants in Ramadi, the U.S. military said. It said American forces had come under small arms fire and returned fire. Seven insurgents were arrested.

BAGHDAD - The Iraqi army has killed seven insurgents and arrested 83 others in the past 24 hours in different parts of Iraq, the Defence Ministry said.

HAWIJA - Gunmen killed the imam of a Sunni mosque in the town of Hawija, 70 km southwest of Kirkuk, police said.

BAIJI - Gunmen killed a tribal leader and wounded his son on a road near Baiji, 180 km north of Baghdad, police said.

MOSUL - The bodies of six people, including a policeman, who had been shot were found in different districts of Mosul, police said.

BAGHDAD - The bodies of 30 people who had been shot were found in different districts of Baghdad on Sunday, police said.

MOSUL - Police in Mosul said the death toll from an attack by two suicide truck bombers outside an Iraqi military base on Sunday had risen to six. The U.S. military said four Iraqi soldiers were killed and four others wounded.

BAGHDAD - The final death toll from two car bombs in a mostly Shi'ite district in southwestern Baghdad on Sunday has risen by two to 17, with 50 wounded, police said.

BAGHDAD - The death toll from a car bomb targeting a police patrol on Sunday has risen by four to nine, with 17 wounded, in the predominantly Shi'ite district of Karrada, police said.

I don’t want to sound like I’m an insensitive asshole, although I don’t care if you think I am one by the time I’m done, but if America has become such a pathetic nation in sense of our backbone, our pluck, our spirit, that the homicidal tear of a deranged man can bring this country to it’s knees, we’re in bad shape going forward. I can’t help but feel like what happened in Virginia Tech was a sad, unfortunate incident, but nothing more. I don’t feel the need to be inundated with poetry from America’s laureates and hear prayers from it’s famous clerics, or listen to speeches from famous orators to let me know that it was a tragedy that had absolutely nothing to do with me, or my fucked up little life.

This isn’t even an appropriate argument for gun control laws, neither for nor against.

The media is supposed to report the news, not act out a charade or create the story to be covered. This wasn’t September 11, 2001! This wasn’t a vicious attack against our country and nationals of other nations as a statement against our ‘oppressive’ lifestyle or religious differences. This was one idiot pulling the ‘if I can’t be happy, no one can’ routine which will only serve to create many more similar cases because of all the airtime and publicity this has generated.

So 32 people died at a university. So what? That’s my take. I think that if the 24 hour news networks and other media outlets had bothered to report as diligently on the details of our occupation, I’m sorry, war in Iraq as they did investigating every angle of VT that the American public in the Red States will know how fucked our position currently is over there. They would be more aware of the incompetence of the Bush administration (with apologies to Alberto Gonazalez, of course) in the handling of the invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq by American troops, and of course the mercenaries we are paying as well.

I don’t think that the VT incident was a national tragedy! The untimely deaths of 32 people got more air time because of the sensationalism of the content than the nor’easter which shut down vast areas in the north east of the United States, slowing life and daily commerce in the affected areas for the better part of a week.
On April 16, 2007, some other events that went on in the world that you may have missed are as follows:

Sudan agreed today to let the U.N. send attack helicopters and 3,000 peacekeepers to Darfur. It came after months of resistance and growing international pressure

The Pulitzer Prizes for 2007 were announced today

A powerful storm lashed the East Coast again today, and the death toll reached nine
Acting Governor Richard Codey said it forced hundreds to flee New Jersey: Over 1,400 people have been evacuated from their homes at this time
In higher elevations, the storm dumped heavy snow, including 17 inches in Vermont and the Adirondacks. Nearly 800,000 homes and businesses lost power, from North Carolina to Maine

In Iraq, the U.S. military announced seven more Americans have been killed since Saturday. The toll for the war now tops 3,300.

Also today, six Iraqi cabinet ministers quit on orders from Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. They protested the government's refusal to set a date for U.S. forces to leave

The move came amid signs death squads linked to Sadr have resumed killing. More than 40 bodies were found in Baghdad in the last 48 hours

Jury selection began today in Miami in the trial of terror suspect Jose Padilla

The above news snippets do not cover the business world, much of the political scene in Washington, and any other national news stories. Now maybe I’m just a cynical asshole, but looking back at that day two weeks ago tomorrow, it seems to me that the Virginia Tech shootings is quite possibly the least significant of the day. In my mind, it’s the least noteworthy news event in both the present, and the long term. I’m not unpatriotic, but those 32 Americans being dead doesn’t affect me and as such I cannot consider them important. I would much rather have seen ‘my’ president (I voted for the other guy) spend his day in Washington D.C. signing a bill that would allow a timetable of return for our troops stationed in Iraq than to see him ‘comforting’ families of victims of circumstance as opposed to the victims of the war he started and perpetuates.

I hadn’t intended this to be political, but somewhere along the line that’s the angle this seems to be shooting from. In reality, I just didn’t care all that much about the significance (or lack thereof) of the killing spree as far as a national day of pause with weeks of fallout in every media outlet. I feel the event wasn’t worthy of the coverage or outcry or sentiment that became so commonplace in the last two weeks. Americans have been lucky that in our short history, this has been the largest massacre in U.S. history. But it’s hardly a memorable moment on par with Pearl Harbor or September 11, or the same day in the history of this nation’s occupation of Iraq.

So, my apologies to those who survived…I’m sorry it isn’t your names we’re hearing rung out as heroes by ‘peers’ and ‘friends’…sorry I’m looking at you as your face and voice are splashed on TV across the country…I’m sorry it’s merely your memories of the dead and not the memory of you that I’m hearing coming from your larynxes, and I’m sorry that the nation has been sufficiently distracted to the point that other newsworthy horrors across the globe were glossed over as insignificant due to the untimely vacancy of reason in the head of crazed immigrant.

(reply to this comment)
From Oddman
Tuesday, May 01, 2007, 21:33

Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5(Agree/Disagree?)
Well written article, Conan.

"The media is supposed to report the news, not act out a charade or create the story to be covered."

An unfortunate phenomena. Regardless of what time, what channel, you're shoved the same rehashed, recycled bull. The same clips, the same headlines, the same irrelevant footage. The same irrelevant people blubbering through their irrelevant tears, their irrelevant opinions.

"sob, I was in my toilet taking a dump, sniff, then I heard a car screeching, sob, then about 5 minutes later when I was wanking, I heard a gunshot. So I waited ten minutes and came out, and there were cops everywhere, sob, it was awful."

Such a shame, such a sham, such a scam. Nowadays the media selects what you hear and what you don't. They may say this one story deserves more coverage than the other, but the fact is that there are much more important issues that simply are not brought to the attention of the general public.

And every news channel has to have an opinion on every story. "Awe, that was such a heartwarming story. I think that was absolutely unacceptable." blah blah, yadda yadda. Can they not just relay fact, and let the public decide for themselves, what they should think?(reply to this comment
From vacuous
Tuesday, May 01, 2007, 03:05

Average visitor agreement is 4 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 4 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 4 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 4 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 4 out of 5(Agree/Disagree?)

The reason Iraq wasnt covered to the same extent is because everyone already anticipates bad news from that region.

Expected news isn't news.

I think to compare this with war-time lives being lost misses the point. Virginia Tech was the most bloody school shooting in american history and as such deserves comprehensive recognition and analysis.

The media hype over Virginia Tech has already died down but the news from Iraq continues to receive airtime.(reply to this comment

From madly
Monday, April 30, 2007, 00:26

You really said it all. I couldn't agree with you more!(reply to this comment
from Attribution
Sunday, April 29, 2007 - 19:53

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From fragiletiger
Monday, April 30, 2007, 02:51


Sorry, I did origionally write it with an intro and credits, but it didn't get sent due to a computer glitch. I got lazy second time around.

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