Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Watching Codependents Argue Politics

Does the Elephant in the Living Room Add A Voice To Our Political Discourse?
What else could we expect from a codependent social culture? 61

The Cliff’s Notes version of codependency’s definition deals with a crazy appetite for control, a stark dislike of confrontation and, at least, a conceptual foundation bricked up with these two features supporting various mechanisms of projecting authority. Apparently, a dismal lack of confidence might be added to the list.

No matter of concern for the successful self-delusionist. Any honest personal examination of these traits can be avoided with a psycho-narcotic dose of implied judgments not particularly burdened with risky original propositions.

Now to politics.

All about us there is a perpetual hue and cry for a discussion of the issues. No venom is too cruel for all the posturing and speeches intended to provide trust, understanding and identification with the candidates. If one were to accept this endless diatribe about the “avoiding of issues,” he would find himself enduring an equivalent airtime of cage wrestling brutality which never strayed from red meat discussions of direct arguments about almost everything. For example, say, nuclear war with Russia, the total destruction of North Korea, and so on.

There would be nervous breakdowns, suicides, domestic violence, drug addiction and alcoholism running rampant. It seems that we are too willing to simply forget that we are hiring these people to take care of all this stuff. We’re too busy taking care of our own pressing decisions.

Let’s add codependency to the mix.

Rather than indulging in “blogosphere” psychotherapy, we can extract a few phenomena which might illuminate this peculiar argument. What signs of codependency are we talking about, anyway?

1. We would like to know exactly what is going to happen.

A central feature of the qualified candidate is to know ahead of time just what challenges might arise. We have always granted great acclaim to prophecy realized. When some terrible development slides into our reality, our first interest rests with who saw it approaching first, not what can we do about it.

Now that we face some sort of economic meltdown, for example, the candidates appear much more interested in staking out the ground of the earliest warning about it than presenting any innovative counter to the threat itself. The specific nature of the calamity -- and its gravity -- quickly fades into a research project of just exactly who frightened us about it first.

The predictable result of this approach is that every politician feels compelled to frighten us quite frequently about all sorts of things, placing his timely fear marker on our poker table. Should any of these dire predictions materialize, he will be able to exude at least the implication of his own insight and thoughtfulness. His solution, although a reality we will probably end up living through, will be a secondary matter compared to his foresight.

Codependents value early warnings much more than good solutions. It is a convenient underpinning of their sensation for having control.

2. We would prefer a very specific promise from these candidates of ours as to exactly what they would do in all manner of hypothetical situations.

As we listen to campaign explanations of a candidate’s proffered response to various opportunities and calamities, one would suspect that we live in an absolute dictatorship. No matter the plan presented, there is always the matter of a recalcitrant congress, an economy with sufficient strength and a durable popular support. The voting public has a history of being rather fickle. Yes, the President will have a bully pulpit. No, his proposals will never enjoy so much as a single moment of peace before the counter arguments arise.

Further, conditions change. Along with the evolutionary shift brought by a new President, many other things also evolve. International affairs germinate, sprout and blossom on heavily unpredictable schedules. Foundations of domestic political support ebb and rise with rather shocking new political ambitions from all quarters. No matter the controlling complexity of hypotheticals, no matter how finely they are resolved into clusters of imagined details, they will never offer a rational measure which might absolutely and accurately predict the behavior of the man we might elect President.

For the codependent with a demanding insistence on knowing outcomes beforehand, this dynamic essence of the moment becomes a worrisome menagerie of alternate possibilities. Threats and opportunities arising in spontaneous moments are equally disturbing. (Troublesome spontaneous moments are those which have eluded the hypotheticals.)

3. We would really rather not have to risk trusting our own intuition or judgment.

If we were exercise this sort of intuition or judgment, it would present itself as a rather subjective insight. Based on what we gradually came to assume about a candidate’s character, background, reliability and so forth, we would venture forth into those rough seas and simply say “As far as I can tell, this one is the guy we want.”

Risky? Of course. This choice may really not be the guy we want. We may have been fooled, or worse yet, successfully deceived. Lied to! What fools we would be! Or worse, what fools we would appear to be! “Just imagine! I voted for that guy!”

Our alternate approach is to scurry about stacking up incredible amounts of evidence supporting our decision. Here, the difficulty lies in the obvious. There is no existential source for supporting evidence for hypothetical propositions. If there were, it would, again, be the utter, infallible voice of prophecy! If such evidence were to precisely match the conditions arising later, an election choice would amount to little more than diligent research.

Unhappily, we are inevitably confronted with the problem of selecting evidence derived from non prophetic estimates of the future. The details are, somehow, unavoidably mismatched, inaccurate or suspiciously motivated. (All those Biblical prophets fared so well chiefly due to their elevation to that status after the prophesied events or something similar actually occurred. Rather detail-free prognostications didn’t hurt their ascent too much, either.)

Codependents find extremely greater comfort in pitting contradictory research against all other evidence rather than in the bravado of outright speculation based on their own intuition and confidence. We find ourselves waging a war of conflicting information and considering it to be waging a war of ideas and issues. Just so long as someone else -- almost anyone else -- said something, it qualifies as a legitimate position.

At this point, these lengthy extractions and quotations are filling the web memory with literally gigabytes of storage as they are trotted out over and over. The debate centers on conflicts of raw data rather than on an individual's thought propositions based on such quotations. Only what is cited does battle. Conclusions drawn from such material and presented as arguments, that is, presented as products of confident, original thought, fill sparse, hard starved kilobytes of that same storage.

Little quality, much quantity. A wrenching poverty of conclusions from those who cite and a mindless, thundering maelstrom of insinuations from those cited. When the tangible discrepancies become too ponderous, the authority of the authors of those cited works becomes the battleground. No ideas -- too risky. Maybe even more endless text from someone else will finally be persuasive! Has winning the argument surpassed supporting good solutions?

“To hell with the prospects of the candidate. I must prevail over this mindless debate!”

4. We insist on a spectacular absence of hypocrisy, real or imagined.

What sort of treasures are sought in all these unending, quoted presentations? The most highly valued of all would be a revelation of hypocrisy. Oh yes, all the jurors will anxiously commence a public contest to see who is more outraged, but each will remember his own transgressions as he struts and spouts the depth of his dire injuries. Hypocrisy is usually either too complicated (One must read all this stuff first, as preparation, of course.) or simply centered on some topic without any particular interest. Alter boys in the closet, it isn’t.

The election of saints would always be a bad idea if it were ever actually true, but, aside from the case of those satisfied Iranians, such dreamy idealism is almost always a fraud. A temporary one. Hypocrisy is as common as wallpaper and as provocative as paint. Beige paint. The only tangible product of paying so much attention to hypocrisy is the creation a horde of self-protective politicians so adept at omitting details that their painfully generalized policy positions gradually become monotonously mud-like. When presented with such tortured propositions we, naturally, become a bit frustrated.

Breaking loose: “Why not zany?”

If our scrutiny of these statements and positions becomes energized enough, we may resort to consulting dictionaries, compendia and other authorities to enable our “debating.” Hogwash!

If you wish to use a word in a meaning other than the dictionary’s, go ahead! Present yourself. Explain yourself. Defend yourself. Place that idea of yours out in the world where it can either flourish or wither. The price of that “withering” has been unreasonably exaggerated! It has become an unexamined phobia! The penalty we imagine as we accept this notion of “paying too high a price” for expressing ideas of ours that never “connect” is a deception. A codependent deception! Our well groomed temerity has produced a swamp devoid of life sustaining innovation or sparks, a wasteland of endlessly restructured quotations with such a dismal, ponderous homogeneity that we begin to suspect that there really isn’t even a possibility of anything new, much less anything new and relevant.

Too often that conclusion suggests that there aren’t any possible answers or solutions. Not too far below that idea is hopelessness, a startling invitation to more attempts to extract control during a plummet to calamity. Yuck.

An endless "snipe hunt" searching for hypocrisy or someone to agree with can hardly be considered our best effort at objective mentation. The stakes are frighteningly high. Is this the best we chose to offer? Is offering something better simply too risky?

If you wish to present an argument of your own, go ahead! A bit of research to explain your thoughts might be nice, but to insist on finding some other statement which is similar is utterly unnecessary. And, disgustingly codependent. Good, new, innovative ideas find little comfort in the imagined security of the “safety in numbers” myth.

Being involved hardly requires cover from external authorities. Each of us is endowed with a mind and a mouth. Confidence comes from our own work on ourselves, from our unbending determination to exercise our precious lives to the fullest. Confidence comes from our insistence that our own personal, individual effort at life be always at its maximum.

Speak up.

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