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Monday, December 17, 2012

Medicating Children, Controlling Behavior, & Social Codependency

This is a dire warning, and some would call it alarmist, but our recent obsession with medicating all our problems away makes this seem quite plausible:

With the recent shooting in Connecticut, there will be lots of talk about mental illness, moody people, and what we are going to 'do' for (read 'to') them.  As I mentioned before this tragedy, mental illness does not make one immoral.

The problem with medicating problems is that the medications themselves don't always work.  In fact, many anti-depressants have been linked to violence and suicide.  The truth is that medications have a 'chance' to work, so we must embrace the idea that we cannot control everything.

This is what we are struggling with as a society: we always need to be in control.  Not only that, but we expect to be in control to the point that nothing bad ever happens.

When I was a substitute teacher, I never expected the kids to sit perfectly still or do their work in a perfect way.  I still don't when it comes to home-schooling... children are by their developmental state 'uncooperative' and will act up.  Eventually, they will be trained, but training is hard.  It requires patience.

In this era of instant everything, we are losing patience for everything... including each other.  Within hours of the Connecticut shooting, people were making grand declarations about the shooting and what 'must' be done.  They could not even wait for the funeral... or all of the facts.

What I am saying is that the children are not the ones with all the problems... we are.  We are impatient, arrogant, and intolerant.  If you disagree with people these days, you are more likely to get insulted than an intelligent conversation.  Of course, the other person feels free to insult you because he thinks himself the 'reasonable' one and you are... well, stupid.  Now we can freely insult the horse because the horse does not understand the insult.

To this mindset, both children and those adults they disagree with have just become another problem to manage.  And, that really is at the core, isn't it?  Society is no longer about people deciding to get along, but persons in need of management.  Obedience and compliance trumps liberty and real diversity.  Liberty does mean the freedom to make bad decisions.

It is natural, as in the case of raising children, that we want to control their behavior because adults are responsible for guiding the outcomes and caring for the welfare of those who, by nature, cannot care for themselves.  The difficulty comes when adults expand this definition into an enormous 'societal codependency' where we are busy trying to control and manage all kinds of adult dysfunction.

As painful as it is, we have to let people fail.  That's how they learn.  It requires patience, because we must control our rescuing instincts and wait for the right opportunity... the point where someone sincerely asks for help with a desire to change.  We should be looking for repentance instead of regret.  Many people regret their problems in terms of outcomes rather than process.  When 'healed' they will return to doing what hurt them to begin with, sometimes trying even harder.

We must be patient with children, and we must be tolerant of one another.  Controlling people, either with drugs or restrictive laws, is not going to work because errors and mistakes are part of the struggle of the free will.  If we take free will away from people, we rob them of their humanity.

This is my greatest concern: in seeking a humane world, we are become inhuman.  

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