5 Min – Day 8 – The way we think

Good morning.

I’m going to warn you before you read this; It isn’t going to be a cheerful post. When I started doing this I realized I might have days like this. Days in which the world sits squarely on my shoulders and I just have to get it out. So here is the first of those days. Hopefully there won’t be very many.

I have struggled with depression most of my life. My depression has roots in things I’m experiencing. I start to feel out of control, like I have no place in the world, or that everything I am working toward is so far out of reach that it would just be better to curl up in a ball and forget I ever tried to do it.

Yesterday was such a day. I started looking at the numbers, and the stats and realizing I’ve put all this money toward something that just isn’t working. What is that? My writing.

Oh, it’s good. I am sure that the stories, the characters, the situations are good. I’m really proud of some of those scenes, and how they came out. I am absolutely in love with the third book. But writing something good, and writing something that people will read is a different matter. And I haven’t figured out that part. How to get people to read it.

But I don’t want you to think the depression part is just about the writing. No, this is a constant battle I have had with myself over everything I have tried. Is it worth it? Do people like it? Do people like me? I have found simple things like making friends, and keeping friends, so difficult that….well, life is a struggle sometimes.

I grew up alone most of the time. I had my sisters, but we didn’t really get along much. I was the constant book worm. They were the ones that would sneak off to do whatever on their own time. They had lots of friends, I sat in the library. That’s just how I was. I didn’t understand basic interactions, but I watched and I listened, and I took psychology classes. So I have a much more logical viewpoint of the world than most people. Most people deal with the world in emotions, and likes and dislikes. Clichés. I come at it with “are you a good person, are you hurting anyone, other than that I don’t care, I’ll accept you.” And I accept that I will disagree with people and have discussions about those disagreements logically. But that isn’t how it works. Most people are not very logical in their take on things, and get emotional and very passionate about certain subjects.

And because I was sheltered growing up i don’t have the same ideas about a lot of things. I got ideas from books, and observation, not from listening to friends and family members and their opinions. So when I finally started getting friends and they started saying “this is how some things are” I disagreed. Because it didn’t make sense. When you see a thing in the world and it is a certain way and everyone wants to say it is a different way it is really hard to tell ourselves that  what your actually observations is wrong.

At least…for me it’s that way.

There was a study a while ago about herd mentality, and it showed that the majority of people will actually change their view point based on peer pressure. If one person says “the color on that banner is red” but the entire class tells him it’s green, he will often cave to the pressure and agree that it’s green. Something switches inside his head that lets him see it the way that the rest of the group sees it.

This herd mentality is there to keep us safe, and comfortable in our groups. If the herd works together they are more likely to survive. Those who disagree with the group, those who form their own opinions, or strike out on their own, are not as acceptable in the herd.

And yet those who strike out on their own often become the best among us. Galileo, Einstein, Carl Sagan, and every other scientist that stepped away from the group think, and struck out on their own. I wish we prized that kind of thinking, more people would do it.

So what does all of this have to do with my writing, and why I’m depressed?

Because I was listening to “Write to Market” from Chris Fox and realized that yet again I have struck out on my own, away from the herd, and made life difficult for myself. Here I am writing fantasy, but it’s my own brand of epic/dark/lovecraftian fantasy. I wrote it because I am interested in the interaction between people, and the dynamics of one group against another, and how that can cause rifts in a society. I wrote it because I believe with every bit of my body that just because a government, or most people, or even an individual says that something is wrong that doesn’t mean that it’s wrong. I believe that individuality is important, and that no group should be able to rule over another with absolute authority. And I put all of that, and more, into that book. And that’s not what people are looking for.

Yes, those who read it tend to like it. But it isn’t something like Dresden with mass market appeal. It’s a work for love.

Do I want to be a full time writer, to stop working for big companies and making someone else money? Yes. But can I take my books and make them more marketable? I’m not sure. I have many ideas, and a lot of them are really good. But I don’t know if any of them would have a mass appeal. I just know I have to keep writing, keep trying, because my thoughts and feelings about the world are just as valid as everyone else’s.

And this has been much, much, longer than 5 minutes, but I couldn’t really cut this one short today. I hope you’ll forgive me.

Justice or Peace?

I’ve been thinking about this a lot today, especially after reading this news article. Do we want justice, or do we want peace?

I can hear the answer already… we want both. Right? Of course we want both. We deserve both! You can’t have one without the other. Etc.

But what is justice? Sometimes it’s easy enough to spot the just answer. A person steals your car they should replace your car. A person defaces your fence with spray paint? They should repaint it.

A person kills your spouse? That’s when it starts getting murky. Is justice to lock them away? Is it justice to kill them too?

In the middle east there is constant fighting and killing because one party feels wronged by another and they want JUSTICE! There can be no peace without justice.

After WWII there were a great many people who had to decide what justice was in that situation. They had peace. They signed a treaty and gave up the war. But what about payment for all the lives lost? The suffering? Who’s fault was it and who was going to pay? The German army alone contained about 10 million people. Then there was Stalin, and all the things he did to his people. And captains of the guard, and various people who just turned over the Jews. Who was to blame? The person who started it? Those who went along with it? The ones who made the orders and threatened to kill them if they didn’t go along with it?

In the end they tried 24 men for the millions of lives lost. Was this justice? That all the others who had anything to do with the war, or killing, just went home and went back to their lives?

The alternative was worse.

Maybe there can’t be true peace without justice, but sometimes justice might not look like justice to the casual observer.

If someone starts spreading rumors about you that you are a mean and horrible person, and then you start acting like a mean and horrible person to that person because the rumors then you are proving them right. In the case of the original article, ISIS spreads the story that Jordan, and others, are terrifying people who kill their prisoners. And now Jordan did kill their prisoners. ISIS now can say “See, look, we are right. It is as we said.”

It’s a tricky thing, these politics between countries. You get into group dynamics, and herd mentalities on massive scales.

I don’t know the answer. I like to think education, and humanitarian aid would help. Teaching them to help themselves, and bringing them up out of the isolationism imposed on them into the global world. But I don’t know.

What I do know: As long as the eye for an eye mentality keeps going there can be no peace. “Justice” for the wrongs you perceive on this massive scale sometimes have to be let go of in order to go on with the process of healing.