The course correction was inevitable
we are all crazy here
I'll start with what I think of the murder of George Floyd, not because it matters what I think, but to put to bed any ambiguity as far as if I have some agenda or another. I'm a libertarian who watched a police office murder and defenseless human being who was pleading for his life. Leaving out what would be a stream of profanity, we'll just say -I'm angry and disgusted.
None of what I say next diminishes the revolting injustice of that or the larger picture it is part of. But even that larger picture is one rock in the avalanche going on.
At their origin these demonstrations where about the murder of George Floyd with a large subtext of "enough is enough". As they escalated strange goings on kept going on... elements that seem out of place. Members of Antifa at every rally, white power people at every rally, pallets of bricks sitting available for no clear reason, interlopers appearing to agitate the situation, individuals or groups of people who seemed to have different motives, looting, destruction, law enforcement reactions that are obscenely out of scale, even civilian on civilian violence,
And nearly everyone has an observation or theory or video evidence about the mass destruction across the U.S. that does not jive with what the initial protest was about. Futile attempts to form a single image of a kaleidoscope amount of activity.
The single element that people are failing to combine with all of this, is the only element that does combine all of this...the entire country was locked down for three months, under extreme stress (stresses), with all activity halted and all manner of normally instantly removed, all normal coping mechanisms absent, and been made to sit and wait, many at a mental breaking point...for months. We were a nation of people stressed, scared, on edge, angry, just barely keeping it together and then this grotesque murder was put in front of us.
What was next was inevitable...
A community of people, justifiably angry about something specific began a movement that was overtaken by a deluge of pent up hostility from every direction, and became a course correction of months of inactivity of an entire population, accumulating into riots that were initially, briefly, rallies.
An entire nation, good people, bad people, members of antifa, white power organizations, leaders, lone wolfs, random miscreants, petty thieves, good sanitarians, all who understand their place in the world through their actions and connection to their fellow man, had been fed a constant stream of fear of an unsee-able danger, had every coping mechanism denied them during that time of extreme stress, and kept largely immobile for three months, were presented one outlet...to be part of the world again, to have some kind of affect on something...the protests.
And the entire country ended up on fire...
What the FUCK did anyone think was going to happen? We are watching the inevitable result of what amounts to, whatever the well meaning intention, the sickest social experiment in our lifetime.
It is no less choas, or seemingly strange conglomeration of people, than if the whole country had it’s water supply cut off and was given one place to fill their glasses.
The human mind is hard wired to interact with other human beings, to have ritual/schedule, to be a part of the lives of his fellow man, to be outside, to explore, to...and this is important...to gather. Gatherings play an extremely important role in civilization and for our very tribal instincts. They are a demonstration of strength,unity, community, so much so that even in this modern age those who do not attend personally will view them and/or find comfort in knowing they take place. Their profound importance is objectively undeniably hard wired into us. They and all those things that I mentioned that we, by our very instincts NEED, was denied and forbidden to 330 million people for three months. I said at the very outset, and many psychologists tried to get people to understand, that these lockdowns were profoundly mentally harmful...and would have a reckoning.
If that all seems to simple an explanation for you, to abstract, the math and the science are every bit as clear as the burning buildings.
There was a very important story last week that was understandably overlooked. It is important to know about and to understand and accept, because the ramifications are all around us.
The U.S. Census agency reported that 1/3 of Americans are currently suffering clinical anxiety or depression do to the pandemic. That is 110 million people bordering on abject mental instability. ONE out of every THREE people, profoundly mentally struggling to keep it together. One out of three cops, one out of three protesters, one out of three people you know. I won't depress you with what's happened to the suicide rate, suffice to say it is high. Not everyone who gets to a breaking point harms themselves. Some harm others, some create destruction. That's the SMALL PICTURE.
The BIG PICTURE is this, we are ALL damaged right now. That 1/3 was shifted how ever many degrees from where they were, into the spectrum of mental instability. And they were shifted by the same stresses that the whole nation has been through, and so the whole nation suffered a similar shift. To be sure, some of us started further away from mental instability, but that still puts the best of us many degrees off of our own normal.
Stress takes a profound toll on cognitive ability. That is undeniable, and understood by every Psychologist walking the face of the earth. The severe profound mental stress on multiple fronts, with no normal coping mechanisms at our disposal, that have gone on for months, has left every single one of us with our ability to reason eroded to one degree or another. . You, me, them, all of us. We do not have the same ability to reason that we did in January.
This is not a theory, this is psychology 101. It only sounds fantastic because we have never had the entire country subjected to the same acute stresses for the same acute time period, with all coping mechanisms denied at the same time.
For a lose analogy, think of stress as a shot of alcohol, and coping mechanisms as a glass of water or piece of bread. We've all had 6 shots of alcohol and no bread or water. That 6 was enough to make a real mess of 1/3 of us, the rest of us are not simply unaffected, we have all had 6 shots.
Someone who wouldn't go to a protest, after 6 shots certainly will, and someone who would but would not yell at a cop will, and someone who would yell at a cop but not throw a rock will, and someone who would throw a rock but not start a fire will, a cop who would not first be the first to fire that tear gas will, the cop would would not use the club instead of the shield will.
Someone who could normally calm themselves will not, someone who would normally calm others will not, someone who could grasp and deduce what is going on around them will not. ect. ect.
We are a nation of people who are currently less rational, less able to process things, less sturdy mentally than what we were/normally are.
Us all going through this at once presents another issue that we have no road map for. Humans are social animals, wired to interact with each other. Every person in your life has an affect on your mental health. We all perform a function for each other subconsciously. We’re all part of a mental ecosystem.
Lemme try to explain that. You put 16 people together for an amount of time and eventually they will all take on roles. One will become a leader of sorts, another will give levity, another insight, another will be the voice of compassion and kindness...you know what I mean? A nation going through all of this at once throws a monkey wrench in that. It is important in times of stress or trauma to be able to talk to or be around someone who is or has gone through it, but it is also important to be around people who have not. It is important to be around people who are undamaged or at least damaged differently. The situation as it is, those who normally struggle to cope have no one who is not struggling as support, and those who are normally a beacon of hope or pillar of strength may be getting overly burdened trying to fill their normal role.
There are degrees of all this, of course. This isn’t a dire situation for everyone, and some people may be feeling little affect at all right now, because they didn’t have a life to begin with...their problems will mount later after everyone has moved on and has a life again. But whatever degree you’re at, you’ll be better able to stay centered realizing all of this.
Those three months happened, and the mental effects don't just evaporate instantly.
Given time to pause, the human mind can reset itself. I don't know when we get that, or if we have to each find a way to give it to ourselves. Right now we have a perpetual motion machine on our hands. Stress has provoked action, that produces stress, that will provoke action...and so on.
The human mind can also adapt, and the march of time itself may be enough. I don't know, there ain't exactly any case studies we can compare this too.