Sunday, April 20, 2008

Yes, We Have No Prime Directive

You know it's gotta be the weeks before Finals if I start updating more and more frequently...

I've been scouring the news again for more updates on the aftermath of the raid on the polygamist sect and their Yearning for Zion Ranch. (Yes, this is what I do when I'm procrastinating from a research paper.) The latest buzz is all about the kids: they're finally going to be separated from the mothers, who have been in custody all this time, and taken to foster homes or who knows where else.

So... all the people these children love and trust are being arrested; their beliefs are being questioned; everyone else is trying to tell them what's best for them in the real world, but these kids have probably never seen a mile outside of Zion Ranch. They don't know what the real world is. And everyone they trusted to tell them what the real world was has suddenly become untrustworthy in the eyes of everyone else.
All I can tell you is, in my unprofessional blogger's opinion with two years of a psychology major's education, this will not end well. The younger ones will be alright, perhaps, since they will probably not remember enough of the sect or their real parents. The adolescents who want out of the sect will most likely be fine, though it will be rough to adjust to a different life. It always is.
It's the kids who are too old to forget and still prepubescent for whom my heart breaks. Their stories will probably not end up in the papers as the next Oliver Twists or David Copperfields. In the psychological development timeline, this is the worst age to experience a trauma of this magnitude; the child can't just forget the majority of the life before, and hasn't the full range of coping skills developed in adolescence to help them deal.

I'm not saying the state is or isn't doing the right thing; I think they're taking measures to sort out the innocents from those who have broken Texas state laws. Nevertheless, there's a brilliant quote from Stargate Atlantis that comes to mind: "Listen, kiddies, everything you believe is wrong, and trust us because we've been here for almost an hour!"

The only truly bothersome thing to me is that I can't think of a better alternative.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Fear and Loathing in the New World Order

It's dangerous to for me to read the news. I read too many headlines, spend too much time looking out from my electronic window down on the world, and I get bogged down in the reality of man's sinful nature, and to be honest, it really ruins my day.

This may or may not surprise you, but religious cults are a fascinating subject to me (though it may surprise you to know that this bit of information is pertinent to my previous thoughts). When I read about a cult getting publicity in the news, it attracts my attention. I guess it's a twisted sort of fascination; it's probably the same sort of thing that inspires people to crane their necks to see roadkill, find interest in the prosecution of a murder case or sexual crime, or become fans of CSI. So when I started reading about all this business with the polygamist Mormon sect in Texas, I retraced the media's steps as far back as May '07. This sect has been getting massive amounts of bad publicity for almost a year... the head guy, Warren Jeffs, is on the FBI's 10 Most Wanted for loads of child abuse charges -physical, emotional, and sexual abuse- and for marrying off young girls to older men as they reach puberty; and even though he's been arrested and his cult forceably "disbanded" (yeah, right), Jeffs seems to be controlling his congregation from his jail cell by allegedly sending and receiving messages by way of his elders. They fear him at the same time they worship the ground he walks on.

Now, as I'm reading all this for the first time, I start to see connections with other famous cults-gone-wild, particularly Jonestown. Seeing as how I'm too young to remember the events, it probably makes sense that I only recently learned the gruesome details of Jim Jones' Peoples Temple and the Jonestown massacre of '78. If you too are unfamiliar, do some research and be as appalled as I was: the end of it all happened when over 900 people committed suicide, whether voluntarily or by force, under the instruction of "Father" Jones and the influence of his "teachings." Now I know people can be very trusting, but I really wish people would use their heads once in a while. He manipulated them initially with sleep deprivation and an overload of work; some of his people would stay awake for weeks at a time. For the record, 60 hours of sleep deprivation will start to mess with your head, and 72 hours makes you eligible for the Special White Jacket Award. Jones was also known, retrospectively, for using guilt manipulation, sex, and drugs to keep his followers hooked.

There's nothing new under the sun, it seems. Using people to feed your own god-complex, making them do your bidding through fear, guilt, and manipulation... and they give back nothing but unashamed, unrestrained loyalty. If that isn't terrifying to you, I'm very sorry, but you are jaded and you need help.

And to further your reading pleasure, the latest news from Tinsel Town is that Scientology has been turning out dissatisfied customers. A TV actor Jason Beghe (no, I don't know who he is, either) has, in recent news, publicly renounced his social religion. I don't exactly understand all the jargon he uses, though the ever-faithful and semi-reliable Wikipedia entry tried to help out, but what I do understand came through loud and clear: for this guy, the novel sci-fi religion-of-the-month didn't make the cut.
(Blogger's note: in the article, there is a link to the YouTube video that the FOXnews article references multiple times. Is a three-minute teaser for an upcoming interview with the actor. If you would like to watch it, go ahead, but be warned of an abundance of language most foul.)

This all somewhat amuses me. Could there perhaps be an ounce of sensibility left in the minds of man?

Sunday, April 13, 2008

It Might've Worked for Thoreau, But...

I'm not completely sure everyone would survive very well living on squirrels and rabbits in a complicated box in the woods for two years.

Why do we try to make society better? I suppose that's a bit of an odd question... but really, when politicians make their promises of how they're going to change the world, do you believe them or roll your eyes?

Personally, I've perfected the eye-roll technique.

Perhaps I'm too familiar with the ideas behind 1984, Farenheit 451, Brave New World, "Equilibrium", and Shyamalan's "The Village", but the idea of some sort of utopian society doesn't really sit well with me.

So when I read about this little place recently, you can imagine how many mental images I got of The Village.

I admit that I am, in fact, tainted by Reformed theology, but I still don't see how a man-made utopia can exist successfully while humans and even the world itself remains in a pervasively depraved state.

I now open the floor for discussion.

Monday, April 07, 2008

To Emotion, Devotion, and Causing a Commotion...

Freud has finally succeeded in making me laugh in a very good way.
In the middle of my homework, I discovered this little gem within my history of psychology textbook.

And I quote:

"In a paper presented to Veinnese Society of Psychiatry and Neurology in 1896, Freud reported that, using material uncovered in his free-association technique, his patients revealed childhood seductions, with the seducer usually an older relative, often the father.
. . .
The group received Freud's paper with skepticism. Krafft-Ebing, the society's president, said it sounded like a "scientific fairy tale".
Freud said his critics were asses and could go to hell."

No need to sugarcoat it, I guess.
The principle of finding swear words in my textbook is very amusing to me.

Thank you, Freud, for making us laugh at psychology... again... and again... and again.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Springtime, Inside and Out

My latest endeavor is not exactly as, shall we say... creative as usual.

Take a look at these. I found them outside my door Sunday morning, as a gift from my hall prayer partner.

(Of course, to make the process a tad creative, the photographer must take a semi-artsy photo of them... ^^)

Odd, aren't they? They're little planters. Each one has soil and flower seeds inside; the green is marigold, the yellow is snapdragon.

Please, withhold your "eggplant" puns.

Supposedly, the seeds will germinate sometime around Sunday. However, the only reason this is an "endeavor" is because I have never prided myself to possess a green thumb. I don't even have a green toe (unless I fail to nimbly navigate a room full of furniture in the dark; then it's a black-and-blue toe). So we shall see if these little buggers make it past their first few stages of development.

In the meantime... I hope the happy spring weather has reached you as it has me. We have returned to the days of leaving our windows wide open without freezing to death... and I am very pleased at the abundance of merry sunshine up on the mountain.

Now that the seasons are changing, all that's standing between me and the end of the semester is two-and-a-half weeks of classes, and another two weeks 'til the end of finals.