Oh, please – please bring back the good old days, when denial “wasn’t just a river in Egypt.”
Psychological denial roams the hills, valleys, streets, structures and surface waters of virtually every square inch of our planet today.
For those of only a relative handful of us who (more or less) understand its co-dependent-like sources and manifestations, denial has evolved – wrong word – into a night-and-daymare. You not only can’t escape it, you’re damned hard-pressed yourself not to practice it, even when you know better.
The reason for that is that “old fashioned” denial – pretending that the truth isn’t the truth (and/or not being willing to hear it) – has recently mutated into a highly aggressive strain: that of supporting, and even substantiating lies and falsehoods by the simple act of consciously remaining silent – in reaction to otherwise having to face difficult truths. We all do this to some degree today just to avoid backlash.
What’s an example of a “difficult truth?” Wasting untold billions and billions of dollars continuing to rebuild the levees and homes within New Orleans while staring into the face of yet another global warming-oriented hurricane season, which is already upon us. I’m not condemning New Orleans’ rebuilding, just the unrealistic aspects of it. It’s as if everyone is hoping this hurricane season will be a lot more user-friendly – which, based upon projections strength-wise, it almost certainly will not be. Ergo, the denial.
I know that hurricane season is here, sure enough, as one of them has already fired a warning salvo across the bow of those of us living here in north Florida less than two weeks ago. The hurricane’s name was … oh, who cares.
Most Floridians, at least, are no fools: the moment they hear the word “tropical storm” they begin heading someplace else. Still, there remain a few panhandle communities, however, like brashly growing, multi-storied and gorgeous (for now) Destin, Florida, where sneering at this year’s likely onslaught of category-kazillion hurricanes seems to have become a kind of art form. There’s very little talk of potential destruction. And the sneering is usually masked – and silent.
Does anyone remember the point to the Three Little Pigs fable, by the way? One suspects not.
In the meantime, in between Destin and New Orleans lies some 200-plus miles of media-ignored coastal wasteland, unresolved tragic desolation as yet still largely overlooked and ignored by the greater American public – due in no small part to this New Denial of Silence. Where once there was a bustling Mississippi shoreline, there’s now neither bustle, nor familiar shoreline.
Nor nearly as many homes.
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Still, nothing has changed, we lie to ourselves. Last year’s hurricane season was a fluke – where for the first time in my lifetime, a hurricane actually turned around and headed back east across South Florida (!!), from Fort Myers on the Gulf coast to Miami Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties on the Atlantic.
The Weather Channel’s coverage, just to mention one, immediately shifted up to New England after the storm hit Florida, where that same slowly dying ‘cane was about to become a nor’easter. Woo-o-o. Meanwhile, one third of the homes in Florida lost their power – one third! – and gasoline stations ran out of gas causing long (and sometimes violent) waits in line – but yet, as far as virtually all of the U.S. network and cable news channels were concerned, South Florida’s problems didn’t become news once again until – I was watching – two weeks after the fact, when one of the cable news channels finally re-picked up the story!
From a journalistic standpoint, this was a whole lot worse than being asleep at the switch. One of our deepest and most worrisome denials these days, I’ll argue strenuously, is we’ve all but lost our free press, which now must answer almost exclusively to its advertisers’ demands, which have nothing to do with journalism.
Fed up with human tragedies, viewers just wanted to settle back into deliberating the frivolous futures of “American Idol” contestants. Advertisers noticed, too.
U.S. network and cable news channels then apparently did just as they were told: they cut to some gossipy story material to replace the South Florida story entirely. And apparently not one American news hound complained – which was for me the most worrisome aspect of it all.
How bad does this “New Denial” get? A long-standing former friend of mine, who lived through southeast Florida’s thumping in Broward, and who was also without power for a couple of days after that west-to-east hurricane (this individual was among the lucky – many down there went without electricity for close to two months), told me this about ongoing coverage of hurricane damage along the Mississippi coast and New Orleans thereafter.
“I’m sick of hearing about it,” my old friend said, who was also an avid “American Idol” fan, by the way. “I don’t care about those people.”
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But, enough – the subject here is about this New Denial (the mutated silent version), not about hurricane deaths, destruction and unstable “inconveniences.”
What actually prompted this dissertation was something that’s happened to me of late. Or, more accurately, what hasn’t happened.
So far this year (excluding this opinion/editorial piece), I’ve had five fairly well read opinion articles published online. To suggest I’m unaware of the potential controversy I’ve likely to have invoked would be beyond insensate – I’m the guy, for starters, after all, who insists that our physical universe is an illusion, and that God never intervenes in our lives. Regardless of one’s counter-views – which may be entirely valid (I strive to be a philosopher, not a guru) – I believe almost all of my speculations and opinions are substantial, and well versed. They’re not easily disposable twaddle, even if and when they prove wrong. They haven’t yet.
To date, one would think that I’d have received a few hate letters, at least – from someone. Without meaning to ever be destructive about it, I have been an equal opportunity offender, I realize. Yet I’ve not received one response, other than a few comments posted at the bottom of my articles at Associated Content – three of them from a co-worker at my day job.
This phenomenon isn’t a fluke. Before moving to north Florida from conservative central Texas, I had eight similarly styled running columns published in three weekly newspapers. The editors of all three told me before I left that they’d not heard one comment about my work from anybody – reader, or friend. And they all believed that was pretty peculiar. Trust me, native Texans can be pretty free with both their compliments, and their criticisms.
Added to this mystery is that I’ve published a secondary email address where I can be reached at the bottom of every one of my published articles. To date, I’ve received no responses – but I have been hit with an endless flurry of ingeniously devious spams designed to part private, personal information from me … only that’s all.
Then there’s the ongoing veseliysnikers.be “attacks:”
Try this, and see if you can explain it: Pull up either the Yahoo! Search or Alta Vista search engines, and type in my full name, Donald Croft Brickner. What comes up, generally, are three or four actual links related to my work and me. But after that, there follows page after page, at this writing, of similar links fed by incomprehensible garblings in which my name appears to be substituted for some other words, as do many of the other highlighted words included, which is what makes each link appear to “be about” something else – only none of them really are. It’s all gibberish that takes you to the same page of lesser-used search engine listings. Just hit one or two veseliysnikers links, and you’ll feel like a dog chasing its own tail.
Before you click on any of these links, too, look at the reference line below – and they’ll all refer to themselves as a variation of “veseliysnikers.be” – which is never explained. I did, however, discover that this self-admitted “blog team” actually has an alphabetized list of targeted words or names – and mine is only one of maybe 100 or more listed on veseliysnikers’ “D” page (they have a similar page for every letter in the alphabet, it should be noted). If you know what this is about, please explain it to me. As I say, I’m easily contacted.
My first reaction is that this is not only a new form of computer “virus” (designed to swamp at least those two search engines with certain hits, like my name) – but it’s also an expression of this mutated denial, where silence is the real weapon.
When my full name is so used, I’m clearly the target of somebody’s displeasure.
By the way – none of the other search engines, like Google, MSN, AOL, Dogpile, Ask, etc. appear to be so “infected.”
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I also discovered that my posts had all been perhaps orchestratively ignored at the only online Forum I’ve ever been an active member of (and it’s not “TOE,” I should add, where I posted a hello and introduction, and nothing thereafter). This seeming blacklisting had been going on for some time at this site well prior to my introduction to the veseliysnikers saboteurs. I now suspect that it’s all part of the same psychological phenomenon I’ve been striving to describe above.
I’m no longer active at that Forum now, by the way, nor am I likely to be again – either there or anywhere else, anytime soon. There’s something vaguely sinister and darkly anarchist about folks hiding behind fake names and avatars, in the first place, I’ve decided – although I’m not building a case for that here.
Not yet, anyway.
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Here’s my best guess – and at the same time, it’s a close to this treatise – about how these events are related to old school psychological denial (which isn’t even discussed in western universities, where behavioral psychology rules the roost and ignores not only the term “denial,” but its validity as a psychological concept):
When the truth isn’t spoken – that’s one thing, and it’s an offshoot of denial, too. As in, “tell me no secrets, only alibis” – that sort of thing, and all that goes with it.
But when the truth isn’t even desired – as in, not reporting on everything from hurricane tragedies to (still woefully unexplained) crop circles, and no one even cares – then this world of ours truly is dancing on the edge of some manner of emotional and intellectual collapse … and without correct identification of the real issues at play, it simply will be unable to right itself: for the “experts” will be as much in the dark as the rest of us. Surely none of us actually want to go there.
Denial leading to widespread Silence leads to unchallenged aggression – and immediately thereafter, comes chaos, which could lead to global self-annihilation.
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Remember the Little Pig who built his house with (figurative) bricks, and warned his piglet pals of “duh”-level dangers – only to be ignored, yet saved in the end?
The truth will not only set us free, but will save our collective piglet butts – each and every time the wolf comes a-knocking.
Check it out: The wolf is already dressed to kill – and waiting outside our silence for what certainly must seem to him to be the inevitable.
Donald Croft Brickner lives in northern Florida. Comments or questions may be emailed to him at email@example.com.