Wednesday, November 6, 2013

That Most Common Evil

Leaving self-indulgence behind and returning to important matters, I want to draw attention to the plight of so many in this world who suffer from mental illness: The unthinking, unfeeling condemnation of others who use the afflicted one as a scapegoat for the sins of everyone.

I have a friend I've known since childhood that I will call Ken who is very troubled by the now ancient taunts and humiliations of youth when his condition was as yet undiagnosed, and when he was getting into his share of youthful trouble.

Ken was a beautiful guy to the few that recognized his incipient schizophrenia, for they saw how he struggled to be, on the whole, a dignified and decent human being.  He was astoundingly successful in those efforts, though almost nobody would give him credit for that.  He suffered, perhaps, more than any adolescent we knew back then, but there were some who wanted to multiply his woes a thousand-fold, simply because he stood out as different, and was very vulnerable socially.

Ken actually did do a fair number of crazy and wrong things when he was young {not the worst sorts of things, but bad enough}, and his many persecutors attributed malicious intent to Ken, as well as fabricating more wrongdoing by him.  He wasn't forgiven the way most of his peers were for their own mistakes - in fact, his errors in judgement were the subject of hypocritical attempts to make him suffer for life; and, those attempts have largely been successful, as Ken has not been able to forgive himself for his lapses in youth until recent years.  He finally has a measure of peace in his heart.

An example of what sort of thing the other young people did to Ken might make you wonder what goes on in people's minds sometimes that can make them so hurtful.  Ken made a fairly common social mistake in high school: He briefly dated a girl that had broken up with one of his friends.  His friend became upset at the news, attacked and abused the girl involved, and succeeded in making Ken a pariah in circles they traveled in.  What a mob of indignant boys and young men did was to invite Ken out for drinks at a local sports tavern {this was more than a year after the actual dating incident}, and, having learned from more astute young people that Ken was ill and likely schizophrenic, these young men, numbering perhaps twenty-five, proceeded to all do mocking impersonations of schizophrenic people, in order to humiliate and punish Ken.

Sadly, this sort of abuse was frequent through Ken's years before he was finally diagnosed and started his medication and therapy.  People who manifest what is truly evil in human affairs - ignorance, insensitivity and hypocrisy - have nearly shattered a human being's capacity for happiness in life.  These people don't have neurotransmitter deficits to explain their behavior - they merely set out to be sadistic in their treatment of Ken, and no one has ever held them accountable for those cruel pranks and characterizations of Ken, nor are they generally held to account for the numerous other intentionally cruel things they have done in their lives.  They are off the hook for their culpability in many moral crimes, but Ken, and many others like him, suffer in silence from the truly evil scapegoating inflicted on him in youth.

To be ostracized, and made the object of public vilification by the hypocrites in their midst, is a fact of life for many of the mentally ill.  To have the weight of other people's wrath on your head throughout life, always threatening to break your spirit, is the fate of those we so cruelly and mistakenly scapegoat.

Ken's a beautiful guy to this day - I wish people could get to know him, but he's a kind of hermit; he's still afraid of what those crowds out there might do to him if they sensed a vulnerable one in their midst.  His happiness in life will be meager in some regards, but as compensation, he's among the knowing crowd - the ones who know how hard a life can be, and who sympathize with all who make mistakes - save, perhaps, for the very rare person who truly is evil.

I'll write about Ken again in the future, perhaps touching on what it is that make the people who really know him say, Ken's a really beautiful guy.

Peace and cheers -


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