Are You Tired?
“Don’t you think she looks tired?”
David Tennant as Dr Who, “The Christmas Invasion” 2005
These questions are for the people running around in suits today.
- Do you find yourself feeling overwhelmingly stressed?
- Do you feel tired, as if life is moving on and on and you can’t make it stop?
- Are you feeling exhausted as if some sort of threat is constantly looming over your life?
A 2001 Danish study reported in the British Medical Journal found that not only do poor people with mental illness suffer from a higher suicide rate than the general public, but so do the wealthy.
The wealthy know their position in society is precarious. They know they live in a dog eat dog world of their own making, and sometimes even boast about being the top dog — but that still means they are living a life of constant battle.
Someone just below them often wants to knock the crown off their heads for their own aggrandisement. But more than that there are the many many people who may hold bitter grudges against their rich overlords due to mistreatment. The one percent are perfectly aware of their home grown dog pit. They are afraid of being treated as they have treated others.
In 2014 venture capitalist Tom Perkins wrote to the Wall Street Journal. In his letter he said that he believed a “progressive war” was being waged against wealthy Americans comparing it to the Nazi persecution of Jews and suggested a Kristallnacht might be coming for the rich. Later he said on television that the poor and middle class have “threatened” the rich with their calls for a more equal society. Such a bizarre and distorted vision of the world is pure paranoia.
We are living in a deeply dysfunctional society. If you know anything about dysfunctional families. It’s easy to see what’s going on. Imagine a family where one or both parents are violent or emotionally abusive. These people still have to function in society to ensure their survival, so all people will ever see are happy smiling faces.
The adults of the family will express their pathologies upon those whom they are most likely to get away with their abuse. This may include low status co-workers, but it will definitely include their children. These children will be instructed to smile and smile, accepting their abuse as normal.
If one of those children starts to sense that something is wrong, they may exhibit emotional problems. The parents “can’t imagine why” their child would have such difficulty, but it must be because of school, TV, or some other external factor. They may try to drug their kid into a semblance of social normality.
If this child starts rebelling, they are seen as “the problem” and are forced to carry the entire family’s guilt. The other children out of fear will then try to be everything their parents want in order to avoid the torture their sibling is going through. Some will even take on their parents’s pathologies to show what good children they are. Does this sound like Trump’s America to you?
So here we are in Australia telling ourselves that we are the lucky country. Our wealthy are taking over the government and convincing people to look the other way as they abuse the poor. And as we all see how far we can fall, rather than fixing the situation we become scared and join in the abuse. We are taking on our parents’s pathologies.
The effort it takes to not care, to turn away from abuse, is brutal. Our fears are not being resolved through “fitting in”, instead we are becoming more and more frightened sometimes to the point of Tom Perkins paranoia.
Making the vulnerable the enemy means we have someone we can more safely kick, but it will never relieve us of fear and rage, and it most certainly will not rescue us from the dangers of accepting dysfunctional social structures.
We must turn squarely toward our systems of hierarchy and wash them away like the flimsy sand castles they are. If you want any sort of security in this world you are only going to find it when you find the strength to stand up for what is kind, what is caring, what will benefit all humanity and all life. We cannot stand by as people are left without food, without homes, without hope.
Dig deep and find a powerful compassion that will remake the world in total.
Peace and kindness,
Speech given 05 April 2017 at the steps of the Victorian Parliament.