Historical Neuroticism: a Collective Refusal to Move On with Life
Some Better Times May Come
Without a claim of being a historian or a mental health provider, but simply with a curiosity to observe with an open mind - I am sharing some thoughts which may, or may not be making a tiny dent in certain taboo-ish themes prevailing in the collective awareness.
Now, is it for my chronic optimism, or a sheer wishful thinking, but I find it so easy to envision some future generations as they are dropping much of this present tendency to live in the past, to identify themselves with their ancestry - whether their glory, or their promised status of "being chosen", or their pains - and to blame someone in the past for their present misfortunes.
In other words, I see those future generations as being mentally healthier, while they may prefer focusing on a constructive aspects of coexistence with others, as well as putting on a test their own potential to make more of themselves - without a chronic inclination to count on sympathy of others and their material support.
Well, call me naïve if you don't share my faith in the basic goodness of man and his deeply seated drive to shake off any inner obstacles to live a full life. Call me anything else if you wish, but my observation is telling me that at some point everybody gets tired of their past, eager to replace those painful traumas with a nostalgic yearning for a new future that won't be just a cheap imitation of the past.
I put the word "neuroticism" into my title, and it's not to mock anyone, criticize anyone, but it's used with that same benevolent attitude that you may see at your doctor - who simply states the results of his observation, while not attaching a guilt-or-something to it.
Without peeking into some scholarly books which would say it more eloquently, I see neurotic person in a little poetic way - as someone reluctant to drop from their heart a heavy weight made of unresolved grudges, which slacks them down in life by making them constantly bump into reality.
History - Not Much for the Mankind to Be Proud Of
History of the mankind is filled with embarrassing and horrifying examples of inhuman acts against each other, which are in a total mismatch with otherwise advanced level of cultural expression of those eras.
These thoughts of contradictory and almost schizoid behavior were flooding my mind as I was standing at the edge of the "Sacrificing Well" in the ancient Mayan ruins of Chichenitza - at the exact spot from which the sacrificed victims used to be pushed down to their death.
While deeply in these thoughts, my eyes met the impressive Stellar Observatory, and with chills up my spine I was asking myself : How could someone with a calendar as precise as ours be so cruel in their heart?
Similar enigmas are bound to puzzle any tourist of those many European castles-turned- museums, which are exhibiting a horrifying assortment of butchering weapons - and then at the next glance they are facing an incredible artistic ability and decorative style of those times.
Indeed, one just can't but wonder how it was possible to have those weapons and those torture chambers that are simply unmatchable with names like Lord Byron, Baruch Spinoza, Voltaire, Shakespeare...
And then, of the more recent history, similar impressions may put tears in your eyes at those sights of concentration camps, as well as chains and shackles telling the horrible stories of slavery.
One must conclude that, if anything, those old pains are not something "imaginary", and there is a little wonder why people find it so hard to snap out of their historical neurosis.
But then, on the other hand, we must ask ourselves - is there anything like a "solution" in perpetuating those memories? What's really the payoff? For, sooner or later, as generations are coming up with more advanced levels of consciousness, others' sympathy may wear off, and along with that also all forms of "tranquilizing" compensations.
Anyone Around to Pay for Historical Injustices?
The very first truism supporting the process of healing any neurosis is in realization that no amount of suffering can bring back those traumatic times for an editing. In the interest of healing, not for minimizing the significance of injustices done, the time has to come to move on and leave those past events and conditions behind, as a story never again to be repeated.
Comparing any ethnical or racial neurotic tendencies to those of an individual we may recognize that unwillingness to let go of those memories. However, as the time is drifting more and more away from those past events, it starts being quite irrational to hang on to a blame, because we are ending up with blaming some generations which have nothing to do with those events.
Imagine in a court of law if someone would have to pay the fine for his great-grandfather's stealing a horse. Furthermore, imagine if the European countries would gang up against poor Mongolia - for all atrocities committed by Attila the Hun. I guess, quite a big part of Europe could also make Italy and France work two jobs to compensate them for everything that the Roman Empire and Napoleon did.
Getting back to comparing it all to an individual neurosis - therapists' couches are full of patients blaming their parents, or uncles, or even "bad luck" for their misfortune in life. Now, this is not to size down that realistic historical grudge, but equally points at people's reluctance to accept responsibility for their life by blaming others - living ones or already dead, and as such not affecting their circumstances in any conceivable way.
Unfortunately, there are some individuals and organizations in whose interest it is that those grudges never be taken off the table as a presumable part of present social relations. In other words, they don't want healing to take place, and will keep instigating those intolerances while calling on the past all the time.
Beside making a nice living out of it, they may also be discharging some of their own intimate emotional issues and inadequacies. For one thing, you may never hear them explain how it was possible that someone like Oprah Winfrey or Steven Spielberg amassed their fortune without those unfriendly phantoms of the history doing anything to prevent it.
Well, I won't go there, I just wanted to give you a hint that much of advertised racism and anti-Semitism is merely a part of someone's agenda to prolong the intolerances - for any reason that is completely out of my ability to figure out.
Everything in this article may easily be taken out of its intended context. Basically, I am not one of those lunatics dreaming about changing the world. I write about people's misinterpreting reality and suffering that follows from it, with a word or two of inspirational encouragement - and all of it stems from my genuine love for human beings.
But on the other hand, my heart is not bleeding for global stupidities, and if people choose to have wars, political intrigues, or bring twice as many rapists and vandals from the Middle East by playing naïve martyrs - I can do nothing about it. I am not a racist, an "anti-this-or-that", but a hard core individualist minding my own life and from time to time sharing my thoughts - like anyone else does. No toxic messages, no intolerance or anything that would remotely look like one.
Finally, neurosis - while being emotionally painful and above all self-sabotaging - isn't a crime or anything else from a moralist's book. We could even view it as an asset if we wanted to bring into picture all those geniuses and biggies of the culture market who suffered from a pronounced neurosis, any aspect of it.
Indeed, it was that emotional turbulence which gave them energy and impetus for their creativity. Back in 70's someone even published a book called "Be Glad You Are Neurotic". It was so inspirational and promising that I almost dropped my extensive self-improvement project and amplified my negative emotionalism to join those creative folks - neurotic or not.
It Will Change Anyway - So, Why Wait
Anyhow, I don't think that I revealed anything originally-unfamiliar in this article, while trying to bring to your attention the existing unnecessary historical burden that people carry on their shoulders. It was written with all due compassion for anyone having suffered because of human cruelty - while also offering a wake up call for a possible outgrowing that condition.
Whether it's a personal, or ethnical, or racial issue, it's always good to come to the realization how our memory - beside serving us in many life-promoting aspects - may also work against our best interests of health, happiness, and peace of mind.
At some point we just have to shift our focus from those injustices of the past to something promising and positive being offered to us by the times to come. No matter how you look at it from a moralistic viewpoint, it is self-defeating, and that's something that I would love to see disappear from the daily news and from people's behavior in general.
Well, call me anything you wish after calling me a dreamer - I won't mind, but after all, a good dream never hurt anyone, especially after seeing a lot of nightmarish stories around. Be well everyone!