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Monday, February 27, 2006

A Sociopathic Nation

I recently read that four percent of people in the U.S. fit the sociopathic label, and that socialized sociopaths—those who, despite the lack of a working conscience, can play the social games well enough to convince others of their relative normalcy—frequently rise to the heights of power in the corporate, political and—yes—religious fields. Think about that: one out of twenty-five people! You probably even know a sociopath. Some studies suggest that sociopaths do not make up four percent of every civilization, that in fact the rate is less than half a percent in cultures that emphasize community and cooperation.

There are different types of sociopaths but the primary common identifier is either a very poorly functioning, or a complete lack of, conscience. Sociopaths are highly egocentric and view other human beings only in relation to their own agendas. They cannot experience true compassion or empathy. They may have emotions, but again those emotions are only relative to themselves and their own lives and interests.

I have frequently applied individual and relationship psychology to the national and global arena and, upon coming across this information on sociopaths, could not help but wonder at the psychological state of our own nation.

I understand that, like a dysfunctional family, most citizens do not want to recognize the awful facts that rise before us. We visualize ourselves as “the good guys” while breaking national, international, constitutional and even commonsensical rules and laws. We allow ourselves to be deceived into a war of greed for oil corporations. (And logically, with all the information that has come put in the past year, we cannot explain Iraq any other way.)

While decrying the torture and killing done by Saddam Hussein (and ignoring the fact that we used to support him while we knew he was gassing Kurds), we have been instituting the same methods he used. We have replaced the Sunni death squads with Shiite ones. Almost all of the money Congress relegated for Iraq reconstruction was diverted to military uses. Tens of thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians have died at our hands. Seventy percent of Iraqis are unemployed and most go without any reliable electricity or safe water. We do nothing about those situations. We say we go to bring democracy and freedom to the Middle East, but the vast majority of Iraqis want us out of their country and we ignore them. In fact, we build permanent bases near critical oil fields and refineries, and call those who actively fight to get us out of their country “insurgents” or “terrorists.”

Like most wars, this one was begun by the sociopaths in charge, for their own interests and agendas. The sociopaths in charge perceive the suffering of other human beings—especially those of different skin color or language—merely as abstract facts on reports, “collateral damage.” THEY . . . DO . . . NOT . . . CARE! Oh, they know how to pretend they care. They may convince themselves that they care, and they even do care when and if it begins to affect themselves and their interests.

How can these sociopaths hide themselves, and their real agendas, so easily from us? Are we truly that naïve as a people? Is it all the warmly fuzzy, patriotic songs and uniforms and prayers and medals that bewitch us? Do we believe that some people with power won’t see this as a weakness and exploit our actual goodness? Because I do believe that most people in this country are decent people. People who do not want our country to torture and kill for the interests of global corporations. People who do not want to use our power and resources for more human suffering, but instead for the alleviation of it. Both here and abroad. People who would rather see our tax dollars go toward helping the less fortunate, and the young and the old within our nation. To see it go toward education and health care, the furthering of basic human rights. How is that so many, all too many, think that what our nation is doing is “God’s work,” this work of sociopaths? We keep our eyes closed to what is happening all around us. We prefer the sugar-coated lies. It’s so much easier that way.

I believe that history books will look at this time—this time of borrowing unprecedented amounts of money on the backs of our children and grandchildren, of selling off our country piecemeal to other nations, of taking from the poor to give to the rich, of turning our backs on our children, our elderly and our vulnerable, of rationalizing new interpretations of our Constitution, such as a tipping of the balance of powers in wartime—as the beginning of the end for us.

And perhaps that is right. Perhaps that is the right thing to have happen.

Think and Be Dangerous

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