So many words, so little time....

Monday, May 23, 2005

Feeling and Action...

I ran into a gal I know at the coffee shop this afternoon. She was going on and on about something a kid did at the private school she teaches at. Apparently, a kid was talking about a certain scene in the latest Harry Potter film and pointed out that she'd like to see a certain teacher "blown up". She meant it as in inflated until she floated up and blew away, but the teacher heard that as a bomb threat and acted accordingly.

She stood there in the middle of that shop and went on and on about how awful that little girl was for this and how she needed to be locked up for everyone's protection and etc, while her two kids were terrorizing the entire rest of the shop in loud Fisher-Price-Airplane-waving circles and running in and out of the front door so they could slam it when the closer let go.

Her only move was to occaisionally say in a sing-song voice, "Dear, you shouldn't do that. How do you think other people feel about that?" and add a chimed out "Thank you" for some improvement only she could see. Needless to say, Dear and Co. really didn't seem to give a rat's bikini. She finally got her coffee and took the kids off on their appointed rounds, to the immense relief of the other patrons and staff.

I had a minor epiphany. This, combined with a bunch of other run-ins with stuff like this lately came together into something with a near-audible snap. You see, I've never understood people like that. I mean, anyone who can see lightning and hear thunder should be able to tell that these kids were absolutely out of control. And here she is completely oblivious to their dangerous actions like running outside a store unsupervised and going on about how this other little girl should be locked up for just saying something.

The problem is they have hooked their feelings into every action. They cannot concieve of taking an action without the spur of emotion, and they cannot take action without the emotion they associate with it. There no separation between feeling and function. No concept of control. Think = be. And then they project that on the other person. Since they can't think of doing it without that emotion, they assign that emotion to anyone who takes that action.

For all outward appearances, they are an adult, but inside they are still the same two-year-old who never was taught the concept that when you do something wrong, wrong things happen to you. They can't see real consequences so they can't put anything into scale. The world is one big drama, and they've cast everyone around them as the players.

This is why they can't figure out the concept of cause and effect. Why they're so scared of everything, and why they react with such vehemence. To them, if you say something or feel something, that means you have or will do it and there is no limit to how far down the rabbit hole they'll go to connect stuff. This is how you go from a fifth-grade kid talking about a teacher blowing up a la Aunt Marge to that kid being locked up for a psychiatric evaluation because the teacher thought she was going to explode a bomb. How you can actually make the logical leap from a kid writing a story about zombies attacking their school to a kid planning something awful. Or from blowing up monsters on the screen to a kid blowing people away.

I don't do stuff because I feel it, I do it because I've considered the options and believe it's the right thing to do. My feelings have as little as possible to do with what my actual actions are. I can tell the difference between juvenile fiction and terrorism. I can play a game and really enjoy it and feel perfectly safe that I'll have no need to go out and do it in real life. I can get in a disagreement with someone and not escalate it to verbal abuse or worse. But they can't.

I used to pity them, but now I realize that this is a far more serious problem. These people are making decisions based on their little blinkered worldview that have dramatic effects on their children's lives, and other people's lives. It scares me and I don't know quite what to do. I don't have an answer for how to teach an adult something they were supposed to have wired into them by about age four.

Anyone got any good ideas?

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Sic Temper Draconis...

"Have at thee!" he roars. It's so loud the window shivers in it's frame.

The upstairs neighbors stomp back and forth across the living room ceiling yet again. They're starting to get annoyed.

"WTHeck!? Look dude, last I checked that was my line. You're supposed to roar inarticulately and send a column of flame perilously close to my shield but actually hitting the fireplace screen." Fumbling through the script with my gauntletted hands, I show him the page. "Can't you remember last time?"

"But you always get to say that. It's not fair." He stomps back over by the fireplace muttering some sort of imprecation in draconic hisses and clicks. Two turns to wrap his tail around his feet and then he hunkers down, nursing his sharply rapped muzzle. He snarfs a big breath through his nose with a gargly sound, but the exhalation just sends a few sparks out past his nostrils. They drift onto the hearth and peter out.

"I didn't write this thing - go complain to the lawyers if you think it would do any good. Oh, and I heard that, smartalec. These pauldrons do NOT make me look fat." They do dig into my shoulder something fierce from where he dented them, though. I dig at the neck and try to adjust it so it isn't cutting off the circulation to my left arm. Doesn't do much good. Using my toe I nudge a couple of the books and DVD's on the floor into the corner. They must have fallen off the shelf when he rammed me into it during the last pass. I creak a couple times as I straighten my back and pick my lance out from between the couch cushions.

We've done this way too many times, I fear. He's getting bored and God help me he's starting to improvise. I'm getting so tired.

Maybe sweet reason will help. I take a deep breath and say, "Look, you're the one who got the really cool ability upgrades last time, not me, you selfish jerk. Those hydra heads must have cost them a fortune." Ouch. Probably could have phrased that better.

I get a dirty look and a snooty toss of his purpling and swelling nose. "Yeah! Well, look how much good it did me. That torch-thingy HURT!"

A grimace is my first answer - I still flinch a bit at that one. I feel bad about it. Not only did it stink to high Heaven, but even the memory of the sizzling makes me queasy. "Do you want some ice for that eye? You're not going to be able to see out of it here pretty quick."

He's not done grumbling, though. "You figured it out too fast. Next time I'm going to get all those books so you won't be able to read up."

Don't threaten the books, man. Bad idea. "Fat chance, Sparky," I snap. "I had that one memorized."

He sits bolt upright, splaying his wings and turning his good eye towards me slowly. "Sparky? Did you just call me SPARKY!?" He steps over the spikes at the end of his tail, raises a forefoot's worth of sharp talons and spits, "Have at thee!" through his fangs.

"Oh for crying out loud," I think. I shake my head and couch my lance. Who am I kidding? They'll always find something to go on, and then here we go again.

I've been asked to explain this one. It's an allegorical discussion
of some of the things we've been going through around here. The dragon
doesn't stand for any one of my kids, or lawyers specifically. It's the
whole mess, given a voice and flammable halitosis.

Don't worry. We've been at this a while now, and I don't imagine it'll
end any time soon. I have taken a ball-peen hammer to the pauldrons,
and they fit much better. ;)