Toxic America: Obesity, Depression and Domestication

Another video podcast uploaded by Stefan Molyneux:

Appreciated that one.

Facebook’s Tax Break (and info on America’s corporate tax setup)

“Facebook’s Tax Break Revealed with David Sirota” (uploaded Feb. 2013):

Newsflash: Facebook sucks. Boycott it.

The tax system in our country is mind-numbingly off-course. Well, that is, off-course by what’s of actual value to most people. The corporate puppet masters are tickled shitless. We give them everything they want and more. Even as we are required to pay more in taxes. It’s like humanity is stuck on stupid or something. Generations of Americans just let this shit go on until it’s gotten so completely out of control.

That thought reminds me of the quote from Benjamin Franklin where he says: “A Republic, if you can keep it.” We failed right out the gate at keeping it, sir. ha  Makes me wonder if it really is true that people would be better off under benevolent rulers. But how do you ensure they remain benevolent? Same way we’re supposed to already be ensuring the integrity of the politicians we elect. So does that mean humanity is destined toward enduring various forms of tyranny, we proving to be unwilling or unable to effectively rebel and all? Because it’s gotten to looking that way.

I’m still coming across men and women who state outright that they don’t discuss “politics,” nipping all such conversation in the bud before it even takes off. Just plugging their ears and contenting themselves with work and hobbies, which likely includes facebook. Yet people go on claiming to want “change.”

Makes a person wonder: are we talking change as in nickels and pennies here? Because that’s where we as a nation are headed. Ironic considering we were the China of yesteryear, producing cheap shit for others.  Eventually we’ll be waxing nostalgic over the 20th century being the “good ol’ days.”

Dialogue between Dr. Corey Anton and Stefan Molyneux (on Capitalism, Materialism, Freedom, and Death)

What a treat. Tonight I stumbled across this clip of Professor Corey Anton talking with Stefan Molyneux:

I’ve watched numerous videos posted by Prof. Anton and recommend his channel to others. Recently Stefan came back across my radar and now, lo and behold, I find these two are familiar with one another. And this is why I appreciate youtube.

“Malcolm X: Make It Plain”

Malcolm X: Make It Plain (Full PBS Documentary):

Elaborating on a “Response to an MRA”

A video I uploaded back in January titled “Response to an MRA”:

In that I was reading aloud an email response I’d sent back to an MRA who’d been corresponding with me. Having been approached by a number of self-described MRAs through email already, I figured it might be helpful to make this response public so as to cut down on me needing to repeat myself. I’m not interested in joining or backing any gender-related movement, having had my fill of making sense of feminism throughout much of my 20s.

In an exchange of comments with fabrizionapoleoni and Thermic Light on the comment thread since last night, I’ve decided to go ahead and post this here to try to flesh out my own thought process a bit.

As stated in the video and also in the comments, I’m not of the belief that waging a major legal battle against feminism will likely prove fruitful, and here’s why. First, let me expand on what I think of feminism.

From the way I see it, feminism became a tool of the government several decades ago intended to drive more women into the workplace so as to generate more taxable revenue and stimulate the economy. The feminist movement served also to divide the sexes and pit them against one another in workplaces as well as in academe, which trickled down to affect households and set off a boom in suing for divorces. We see this. The sexual liberation revolution that accompanied the second-wave feminist mantra came at a time of Judeo-Christian values dramatically losing their hold over people due to advancements in scientific understandings and economic concerns coming to eclipse all else (this trend had been in motion for a couple hundred years already, heralded by the Enlightenment Era and later the introduction of the Industrial Age), leaving people in the confused state of value anomie where greater subjectivity entered the arena and allowed much freedom of expression and experimentation that continues on ’til today. Not that I necessarily take issue with the sexual revolution, seeing it as a natural reaction to the suppression of female sexuality under Abrahamic religions, this being an attempt to establish a more favorable balance for women going forward. I take no issue with that on the surface, but what we don’t tend to think about is the propaganda promoted to tap into our selfish interests and to stoke hostilities between the sexes.

Keeping this as brief as I can, what ultimately wound up happening is feminism and its organizations grew in large part thanks to financial infusions from major contributors tied in with the government, as well as from the government directly. Why did the government do this? Because higher-ups sympathize with the plight of women? Not hardly. Rather it was because they and their corporate sponsors stand to benefit in a variety of ways. First off, feminism involves a lot of fear-mongering, particularly when it comes to topic of rape and child molestation (not that these aren’t incredibly important issues), where the fever-pitch scream over these matters inevitably sought redress through the courts and promoting protectionist legislation. Feminism preaches a great deal about “empowerment,” yet its real message tends to revolve around victimhood, which tends to focus primarily on women and children’s suffering. Every topic must be framed in how it affects women or mothers of children or female children, and this is justified by claiming that everything outside of feminism caters to the male perspective, as if the common man were being fairly represented already.

Saying nothing new to people so far. But what’s really interesting to me is how this sleight of hand proved exceptionally divisive, especially in light of more women increasing their dependence on the State and less so on men. But we have to remember it wasn’t too many decades back when these social programs were nonexistent and most men and women had to rely on one another to grow enough food and rear children. Pitiful was the widow or single mother who had to rely on the charity of others or churches or enter into some low form of servitude to make ends meet. Now that has all changed and feminism has aided in protecting women and children from bleak fates, or so it gives the appearance of doing. In there is where everything gets really complex and crazy, because the feminist movement embraced the notion of promoting and extending the role of the State in getting involved in our lives. The charity received is accompanied by government intrusion through the formation of an entire league of social workers and CPS employees — people who earn incomes from monitoring other people’s family situations.

But it goes deeper than that obviously. With the pushing of more laws and greater penalties, including mandatory sentencing, we saw immense growth in the penal system. More prisons built and filled, primarily with men. A huge number of which are in there on drug offenses, which is another area where the feminist movement supported tougher sentencing in the name of protecting children. Prohibition has ties with feminism going back to its inception, most notably in the alcohol prohibition of the early 20th century. In other words, when social problems confront us, the feminist movement tends nearly always to push for the State to step in and criminalize behavior on our behalf, but nearly all popular movements have aimed the same way over the last century. And where they branched off and called for individual action, their leaders were assassinated (as in the case of the most prominent civil rights leaders, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X).

Let’s think about that for a moment, because what those two men advocated is largely where I am coming from. Dr. King spoke from the position of people changing their hearts and following their consciences, referring to the tradition of Jesus and other peace-builders. Because he understood that the problem lies within us all and that laws alone won’t change us. Malcolm X understood that power never concedes itself without being given a fight. He understood that new laws alone couldn’t rectify past injustices, remarking that you can’t stab a knife in a man’s back 9 inches, pull it out 6 inches, and then call that “progress.” He understood what ails us is deeply entrenched in our cultures and argued for the individual to grab hold of the reins of his or her own life, to take back power by refusing to bow to unjust authorities, by being willing to fight back by whatever means necessary (not excluding utilizing the courts, though he learned the hard way there too). He did not see this as a battle to be fought and won primarily within the courts, but out here in the streets, out here where we can make a difference through what we choose to do or not do, through our resistance and our rejection of that system. Both men died as a result of speaking the truth.

Returning to feminism, we saw the rise of the welfare state, promoted as needed to care for women and children and the disabled. Sounds nice in theory, except the programs established are ran by our horribly inefficient, bureaucratic nightmare of a government. Notice how little is said as to whether so many kids should be born out of wedlock as has become so common; instead attention is focused on blaming fathers for abandoning their children by not paying enough toward their support. Why have so many fathers stepped out on the families they’ve helped create? Does this not point back to people being chewed up by the economic wheel, either by employers (in conjunction with the IRS) or by the courts when marriages dissolve? I contend that it’s a cultural problem, a failure of this society to leave communities to care for themselves and determine their own collective fate. Over time communities have been broken down and each of us individuals are set out on our own, pulled primarily by economic pressures while attempting to dodge being taken advantage of. The feminist movement, whether intentional or not, helped exacerbate this problem and has done very little to counteract it.

Then enters talk of our public education system in the U.S. Lord, help us there. That’s an indoctrination program of our young people, teaching them false histories (or glossed-over history anyway) while encouraging them to engage in such movements that see the legal contest as most relevant. Furthermore, it’s a glorified daycare to set children while parents work, because nearly everything in life anymore revolves around money, acquiring it and, Americans’ favorite pastime, spending it. Young people are not taught to think critically, not unless it pertains to the scientific realm, and even there attempts appear to fall short.

Thinking about the scientific realm for a moment, another major player in this whole fiasco of the last century is the field of psychiatry, which one might initially think more women would oppose considering its history of focusing on “correcting” women who rebelled against previous societal norms. But no, feminism has become entrenched in that field, supporting and circulating its pseudo-scientific “findings” as well as accepting and adopting its lingo.  That right there worries me. Because psychiatry is closely tied to the State (not to mention advertisers and Big Pharma, but that will be discussed another time) and has been utilized to promote conformity, dicing the public up under labels said to require chemical or institutional “treatment” for varying degrees of “maladaptation.” I’m surprised more people aren’t spooked by such a field where their claims are based not on actual scientific evidence but on a social planning agenda. Psychiatry is the field of social engineering, plain and simple, and it’s brought forth tons of “experts” prescribing for us how we need to live our lives and how to raise young’ns (notice though how swiftly opinions within the field change, demonstrating how psychiatry and psychology are fields of study of human behavior, not unlike sociology, and have no place being equated with medical science). Psychology and sociology (and anthropology and philosophy, etc.) are all incredibly interesting fields of study, but they are not scientific in the way people have come to assume psychology and psychiatry to be. It is propaganda that has pushed that belief on the uncritical masses, allowing psychiatry to rise in popularity and fuse itself with our government (which is two-fold, because on one hand it is employed as a controlling mechanism to interfere with the social realm, but also pharmaceutical companies wield great lobbying power to influence Congresspeople to embrace and promote this insidious alliance).

And as in the case of everything these days, it all leads back to concerns over money and the economy. While the feminism movement is angling to promote women in positions of power throughout the power structure currently in place, it does nothing to overturn that system, though there are claims that once infiltrated, the system can then be altered from the inside out. All that says to me is this is one way in which fascism can establish itself, because the status quo will only be enhanced, never overthrown or dismantled from within as some feminists may dream. Fascism is the alliance of State and major corporations, whereby this combined power comes to control and exert enormous influence over nearly all aspects of society. When we consider that one arm at the government’s disposal involves the field of psychiatry and its drug sellers, can we doubt that will come to play a bigger role as time moves on, if only under the guise of promoting jobs and helping people? Because those are hot fields enlisting lots of foot soldiers to spread their message of “mental health” (whatever that means on any given day). A number of self-professed feminists are involved in the so-called mental health system, with a great many newcomers joining each year. That is disconcerting.

Whereas the feminist movement came out loud protesting against the Vietnam war, now we see mostly those on its fringes still making a fuss and joining in the serious antiwar rallies. Old women mostly, from my experience. The economic costs of endless warfare and the sacrifice of our young people to the war machine is one of the gravest concerns confronting us, yet the feminist movement busies itself worrying with injecting more women into academia and upper management positions in the business world, or embarking on slut-shaming protests, or squealing about differences in pay — trivial concerns if this system winds up buckling under due to financial overreach.

In a nutshell, the feminist movement today runs counter to what many of us thought it was supposed to be about, namely taking to task a system run amok. But whatever. Aside from securing voting rights and women’s reproductive control over their own bodies, the movement has been used to create more problems than it can solve. It’s time to move past reliance on gender-specific movements and to take in the bigger picture, which to me asks of us how we can fight back against these forces at play in our society. The only answers I can come to is that we as a people and various collectives therein must reestablish our ability to care for ourselves in community settings. What I’m referring to here involves neo-agrarianism, because without food and water, we won’t last long. More importantly, without regaining control over providing for our most basic needs, we will grow increasingly dependent on this system, that is our government and major corporations, to provide what we need at the prices they set, paid for by the dollars we must earn from them.

To bring about a neo-agrarian revolution, land must be secured and/or reallocated to serve purposes beyond pure aesthetics, and intentional communities will have to form in anticipation of future secession. I realize people don’t wish to hear this, but without taking the first step to generate what we need to survive, nothing else can progress. Because where we stand now we are hopelessly dependent on the State/major corporations (particularly food producers) to provide for our sustenance. And you can bet that will be one of the first things jeopardized if it ever comes down to civil war.

The way I see it is we have two choices: prop up the status quo, which includes the entire infrastructure we’ve grown dependent on, or figure out ways to reduce our reliance on that system so as to be able to fight against it. Without ground to stand on, disrupting the current system will likely lead to a lot of pain and little gain. But either way, it should be obvious that I favor the latter option. People who remain caught up in the legal contest are, unwittingly or otherwise, playing into and perpetuating the current system. The fines and taxes we pay feeds it. Do people realize that divorce courts are making a killing for the State, all because we allow the State to control the institution of marriage? Takes money and effort to change laws, and it takes even more to protect said laws once on the books, as feminists will tell you. Beyond that, there’s virtually no way to effectively attack all of the forces driving society today through the legal system because it is broken by already being bought and paid for. We will go broke trying, just as we will go broke thinking we can contribute even a fraction of what corporations contribute to buy the loyalty of politicians.

We are faced with a serious conundrum with no easy answers, and I don’t think it’s possible at this point for any consensus to be reached. For those operating under faulty logic, I say let them go their own way. Let them learn for themselves what will and won’t work. This is why my mind keeps returning to the notion of people fragmenting off into smaller, intentionally-created communities where the members share common objectives and beliefs. Much as I can appreciate diversity, and I believe it can still be preserved under this strategy through trade alliances, it has bogged us down to where we can’t agree on much. So we’d be better off splitting and going our own ways versus continuing to fight one another, tooth and nail, trying to convince one another, turning toward domination strategies when that fails. We’ll drive one another increasingly insane if we keep this up.

Furthermore, our evolutionary history prepares us for smaller group engagement whereby we have more influence and negotiations become possible. Once things get too big and too out of control, we wind up at each other’s throats down here on the ground while the puppet masters loot us and force leashes around our necks. That is no future I wish to take part in. Yet another reason I am keen on not producing children forced to contend with what lay in store. One way or another, it’s going to be ugly. It’s a matter of whether that ugliness will come through the preservation of the status quo and its ceaseless wars and its drive toward micromanaging us all, or if we’ll be willing to get down and dirty in defense of another way of life. As always, the choice is entirely up to us. If we take no action, we will simply be swept along with the tides, and surely we can see where that will wind us up.

That’s enough to say on that subject for now, but anyone wishing me to consider different angles feel free to post a comment.

Dan Rather on HAMP

A commenter on one of my student loan video comment threads shared this excellent clip, “Dan Rather Reports on HAMP (Home Affordable Modification Program)”:

The runaround is eerily similar when comparing this home mortgage chicanery with the student loan chicanery.

The reading of “Body Pleasure and the Origin of Violence” by James W. Prescott (my thoughts follow)

YT user ChristophDollis recommended I watch the following video titled “Abusers, Orgasms, Pain and Pleasure…” uploaded by Stefan Molyneux:

Pausing at the 34 min. mark, let me first say thanks for suggesting this clip of the reading of a piece titled “Body Pleasure and the Origin of Violence” by James W. Prescott (from “The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists” — Nov. 1975). Interesting hearing what people have been putting out into the universe and how much of the public has overlooked it. The rest of my comments below aren’t directed at anyone in particular and are simply thoughts stimulated by the video.

One reason I believe the public tends to glance right past material such as that (besides not finding it entertaining) is because we’re all affected by exactly that which Dr. Prescott is discussing. While 1975 was before my time, not much has changed in the way of improvement in our social relations since then most certainly, yet our heads remain firmly planted in the sand. Not many of us are out here actively seeking information and answers, partly because many people lack time and/or energy, but also because we are a socially and sexually fucked up lot. lol That’s not putting it delicately, but I doubt many would disagree if they really stopped and thought about it.

We’re a society of sado-masochists basically, and plenty of folks are attached to being that way. They see it as normal or even healthy. It affects so many of us that it indeed appears to be the norm. Pressing pleasure and pain boundaries is all the rage these days, whether that be on the softer or harder ends of the spectrum. And arguably on the less extreme end it’s difficult to argue that such behavior is terribly detrimental when it can be quite enjoyable play for both involved. Furthermore, I do believe sex has become a balm of sorts to pacify us as we struggle through modern times. Sex can have drug-like qualities of its own, particularly in how it allows a mental escape. I’ve been particularly skeptical of these claims circling about “sexual addiction,” but I do get how sex has for many an obsessive allurement. It’s where pleasure-seeking meets sexual dysfunction brought about in a wide assortment of ways. People do need touch and I’d agree many lacked enough of it and go on seeking it however which way. This easily can lead into the topic of prostitution and pornography, which then necessarily runs into economic bullshittery, but I’d prefer to keep it relatively brief right now.

Pornography must be mentioned, because it reflects just how sado-masochistic we’ve become. Americans may argue that many of us don’t truly engage in the cruelties exhibited on common pornos, but it’s enough that we use them for masturbatory material. How many of us don’t? It gets into our psyches through viewing, and we don’t resist it and demand more affectionate sexual displays because why? Because we are lazy and will take whatever is put before us? Because we grow conditioned to viewing this sort of material since many of us were exposed by our teen years? Because some have grown to genuinely like it? Men and women genuinely are turned on watching a woman be gagged by cock, making choking sounds, looking pathetic, while the man has hold of her hair and is calling her a “stupid whore”? That is truly exciting, is it? And all this anal sex, is that really what everyone wants? Many have told me no, but I also know that plenty are curious.

The trouble is that people tend to imitate pornography, this is my observation. Everyone has their own experience to pull from, but this is my view of it. Especially younger males. Older males over the age of 45 approach sex differently, though it’s difficult to put into words. Less formulaic approach to sex, perhaps. The younger man is oftentimes re-acting a routine, one that apparently is supposed to include oral sex performed on him and involves a lot of banging, not much kissing, not much caressing. That’s a weird thing to me and it turned me off on much of my own age group in my 20s. I’ve watched my share of porn and still do occasionally, so I do know where they’re getting this stuff from. It’s not just the way of men — it’s the training of young men and women to be bad lovers. That is my take.

The lesson of porn is one too often of aggression and intimate distance. Because a penis is inserted into a vagina, we call that intimacy. That is not intimacy. That is mere function. Calling the purely physical act itself intimacy is so completely detached from considerations of realness, genuine attraction, mutual respect and feelings of exhilaration. This mindset is robbing sex of the sanctity it rightfully deserves.

Whether money is exchanged or two lovers find one another in a bar or sex is filmed and distributed for others to view, it is not my concern. None of that automatically desacralizes sex in my eyes. What does is the negative, resentful and/or apathetic attitude that so often accompanies sexuality, at least as practiced in the U.S today. The lack of respect for the act is apparent to me, and it sickens me, even as I’ve been caught up in just such a lifestyle myself. Extricated myself from it, by and large, but I am still affected by it, and my body responds to it, even as my mind knows better. That is the result of conditioning, of youthful exposure, of porn increasingly influencing the mainstream media (which I term as “porn culture”), of widespread acceptance (especially within my age group), and undoubtedly upbringing factors in. We live in a social climate of value anomie where everything is up for experimentation, especially if money or attention can be attained off of it.

Sexual displays garner attention. People respond to that, as is natural, especially for those who feel deprived of enough attention. Sexuality, therefore, isn’t so much addictive as it is magnetic. We’re drawn to it like moths to a flame. Social and intimate dysfunction opens people up to drawing toward sexual dysfunctionality. This I do believe.

Yet people defend it. Tooth and nail. They tend to argue from a libertarian legal perspective (which, to an extent, I share), stating whatever adults are involved in voluntarily should be allowable. While I’m not an advocate for censorship or bringing in new laws to attempt to control our behaviors, I have come to take issue with the hard-line attitude in support of virtually all pornography and violent displays, because it leaves off the table the moral, social, and psychological dimensions to this ordeal. It’s as if legality is all people want to see in any of this; all other concerns are reduced and dismissed as mere personal preferences.

Having now finished watching the entire video clip, I basically agree with what that man said. However, I worry about his strategies being employed someday in a “Brave New World” kind of way, which would create a host of problems all unto itself. Call me a Luddite of sorts, which is probably accurate to an extent, but I have trouble with comprehending how modern life as Westerners experience it is healthy for humans in terms of its push toward “experts”micromanaging everything and economics ultimately determining our collective fate. Much more could be said in response to this clip, which I am glad to have listened to, but it’s approaching dinner time.

Dr. Faye Snyder speaks with Stefan Molyneux

What an excellent interview and discussion between Stefan Molyneux and Dr. Faye Snyder. So glad I was turned on to looking her up today. All this talk about childhood and development has me tripping down memory lane a bit, reflecting and thinking…

[TMI story-sharing since removed.]

Thinking about personal histories and childhood bonding (a personal post)

Normally I’d prefer to use this blog to point to writings, films, and other sources of what I consider interesting information and ideas. When I started this project, it was my intention to remain relatively private with my personal business, seeing as how my face is now attached to my words online. And everything written on this Internet feasibly becomes permanently part of the public record.

But I was just struck with some thoughts again tonight that tie into the ongoing talk on “evil” and the sickness of our society. Not ashamed of who I am or most of what I’ve done, so I might as well share a little about who I am so as hopefully to make more clear my perspective.

Earlier a couple of commenters on my “Why I’m No Longer a Feminist” video comment section brought up Dr. Faye Snyder, someone I’d never heard of before. Searched for her on YT and listened to the first few minutes of a man reading her piece titled “I Am Adam Lanza’s Therapist.” Then my own thoughts crashed in, because while the RAD acronym is new to me, thoughts on this topic are not. How you are brought up and how well you bond with others is so supremely important. I do know this, to where it’s easy to take as granted that others, on some level, acknowledge this as a truth as well. People who are deeply traumatized as children grow into broken-spirited adults. We Americans live in a society that has grown socially toxic over time, and it’s because we the people are broken, coming from broken homes and broken communities. All that leads to broken dreams, broken spirits, broken hearts, and, in some cases, broken minds. This I do believe to be true.

“Reactive Detachment Disorder” — guess that’s one way to label the symptoms of broken lives. Where do we think all this depression is stemming from? All this anxiety and self-destructiveness? This cowardice? I get it. Personally refuse to speak in DSM lingo, but I do comprehend some of this heart-breaking problem we have today. It’s everywhere and we’re all observers and participants. So too do we all play the roles of victimizers and victims.

It deserves to be stated that social complexities are mind-blowing because unlike with physical and chemical sciences, there’s really no math to explain it or experiments that can control for all possible variables. And the social and psychological sphere is constantly in motion, never at rest, always moving on through time and Ages. We tend to think of the bulk of human history simply as “progressive” (but it depends on one’s definition there). When you add in ponderings on physics and imagine how that all might tie in, life becomes so big, so amazing, so wondrous and beyond comprehension that to me it justifies being referred to as “God.” It’s not merely chemical and physical and biological processes — life is bigger than that, especially for us humans in our ongoing struggle to make sense out of a life as beings separated from the jungle and tribal conditions that marked much of our evolutionary history. So many metaphors exist pointing to this space in time when humans became more than animals, which is to say more complex, more consciously aware, cast out of the animal kingdom to proactively determining our own destinies. Thinking in this way, the social realm becomes no trivial matter, nor can it be easily explained and put into neat language for others to digest on-the-go. But I’ll try my best at breaking things down as I see them, from my own perspective, as this blogging project unfolds.

Returning to the topic of Dr. Snyder and talk of the Sandy Hook massacre while reflecting on so many that came before. The Columbine massacre occurred when I was 17, and youths of my age group were caught up in the goth fetish and/or violent rap music and/or heavy metal (as was I, to an extent). Thinking back, we were an angry lot, teens of the ’90s. And I can’t speak for where others lived or who they hung around, but I bounced from state to state as a teen and wound up dropping out of high school to start working. The people I befriended included some very angry people, very pained and training in how to pay it forward. Tried to avoid those characters, but they’re out there.

One boy I dated when I was 15 and he was 17 had been sexually molested by his father, as had been his sister and he suspected his younger brothers were enduring it in his absence. He was one messed up individual. The abuse had required a surgery when he was very young, under 6, and left him wetting the bed from there on. This is just a boy I met and wound up dating for a few months who unraveled these details over time. We parted ways and 5 years later he called my stepdad, asking for him to give me his number. Talked to the boy two times on the phone, and in the second conversation he told me he was being accused in the courts of sexually molesting his very young daughter. I walked away and want to hear no more, because after briefly knowing him I’m sad to say that he maybe could’ve done such a thing. He was a broken individual on such a serious level that his life will forever be fucked up. That is such a sad truth, seeing how serious dysfunction breeds dysfunction for the young going forward and their young too, somehow, some way.

Met a lot of people over the years, most of whom I don’t keep in contact with. Met plenty at schools and at coffee shops and, later, at bars. All kinds of people. But the people who particularly interested me were those closest to me, members of my own family. I grew up watching my Papa (grandpa) suffer inside, knowing he’d suffered his whole life, abandoned and abused. I related to his pain and he to mine, much as our circumstances differed. He was a long-time alcoholic, and it hurt his kids. One of his kids was my mother. I do not know of my biological father, nor he of my existence. I was born out of wedlock to a 19-year-old single woman who lived with her parents in a trailer in a small town in Mississippi. My mother is not right in the head for reasons I’ve never been able to understand completely, but talk with my Grandma over time leads us to believe she may be this way because of head injuries sustained as a baby in a bad car accident.

Let me say right now that my Papa is one of the most important people in my life, and I love him and his memory forever. He was not what I would call a fully good or fully bad man. He was a complex man with pain in his heart and wounds that would not entirely heal, so he lived as an alcoholic until he was 50 (and I was 9). It’s been said that he could be physically abusive and I’m well-aware of how he could run his mouth. But he’s the closest to a father-figure in my life, and we shared a strong bond. He has certain qualities of character that I look up to and respect immensely. For example, through him I learned someone can be afraid, truly afraid, and still summon the strength and guile to stand up and confront people when needed. He had pride and a heart. He didn’t believe in kicking an underdog when they’re down, unlike lots of other people in our town. He wasn’t afraid to stand up to authority and tell it like he saw it.

But underneath all of that, I occasionally glimpsed that little boy in him that was injured by the people he was raised by. In whispered conversations in the kitchen in the early morning hours, my Grandma used to tell me stories about Papa’s past, about how his mother left him with his grandfather when he was 6, screaming “You can keep the little bastard!” I cry just thinking about that, about how it must feel carrying that around in one’s heart for 65 years (he died at age 71 in 2011 — may he be resting in peace now). She told me of how his father and stepmother yanked him from his loving grandfather and essentially made my Papa their slave, working him hard at physical labor, pulling him out of school after the 8th grade and regularly severely beating him until the age of 17 when he escaped by lying about his age to join the National Guard. He met my Grandma a year or so later and they immediately began creating a family of their own.

My Papa was an alcoholic throughout all three of his kids’ upbringings, and he was an angry man who saw injustice everywhere. In a number of ways my and his personalities are a lot alike.

I spent half of my upbringing with my Grandparents, and my infancy was probably redeemed thanks to them and their care and support for me, particularly up to age 4 (which is when I was moved away with my mother and stepfather). I bonded with my Grandma especially as a baby because she was the one who tended to me the most, and she’s very loving toward babies which is a blessing. Papa too, at least by the time I came around — he just lit up and we bonded. Some of my favorite memories are of riding around in the little pickup truck right beside my Papa, him prompting me to chat on the CB radio to his trucker friends, feeling like such a big girl going with Papa to do his day’s business. He’d show me off to his friends like I was really something. I would’ve followed that man anywhere. To some he might’ve looked like a worn-out man in a cap, spitting chew and talking shit (lol), but he was the biggest man in my universe. None have yet to compare with his originality.

But unfortunately the pain and suffering he endured isn’t some anomaly. So many people running around deeply hurt by their pasts; plenty hurt bad enough that they got problems, emotional, psychological, social. One could argue that in today’s society we’re all touched by the pain, somehow, some way, directly or indirectly through our media and our shared culture. We’re touched by one another, figuratively speaking (or literally, as is sometimes the case). I see as I look out on people I love and also on strangers that early childhood trauma, abandonment, and abuse leaves a hole in people’s hearts. It can’t be helped and it may never be completely restored. I don’t know and won’t make definitive claims, but this is how I see it. And that pain tends to pay itself forward, somehow, some way.

This is another reason why I decided many years ago to not birth children of my own. I wish for the cycle to discontinue so far as I’m concerned. People can tell you all the self-help info they’d like, but there comes a point when the risk isn’t worth it, that it’s better to acknowledge that more nurturing and attentive people are better suited for parenthood. And that’s fine by me. There’s plenty else to do besides breed — one of the great joys of living as a woman in this moment in history when I have the option to make this choice thanks to technology and cultural transformation.

I’ve tired of typing about this right now, so let’s just leave it there. Part of me cringes revealing such personal information about myself and my family, but it represents part of who I am as one individual out here, one drop in the collective bucket.