Insanity and Super-Sanity …some thoughts about the inconceivable
In the last week, I’ve seen just about as much bad news as I can take. From politicians with their endless arguing, to constant wars and close-to-wars between countries, to continuing economic malaise and environmental collapse… and these are what we’re so used to that we regard it all as “normal.”
But other things aren’t so normal. In Colorado in the U.S., some men broke into a house, doused the people there with gasoline, and set two on fire. In Hunan Province in China, a man ran into a school with a knife and stabbed or cut twenty-one children. And in the state of Connecticut, a young man strode into a school with two guns, killing twenty children and six adults, including himself – apparently after murdering his mother. All these on the same day!
Humans’ minds are programmed to, when horrible incidents happen, instantly ask “Why.” We dogs don’t do that; our brains stay much more In The Moment, and we just focus on what we’re feeling and what to do right then.
So when the news came out about this horrible Connecticut shooting, all the people around me started arguing – about why this all happened, and what needs to be done differently – while I just lay on the floor and felt my heart break.
You see, there are a lot of intelligent views out there on what might help prevent incidents like this being so bad in the future. Stronger security in schools, making it harder for people to get guns, etc. But none of those deal with the core issue at the heart of this, and all these, events:
The people who did them were Insane.
But what do I mean by that? Well, I looked up the word Insane online, and found two serious definitions: First: The state of being seriously mentally ill; or Madness. And second: Extreme foolishness or irrationality. Now you’ll hear other sorts of pretend definitions (Albert Einstein famously said that Insanity is defined by someone doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results), but those are really just people talking about things that fit those other two definitions.
Now, sure, we all do things that are foolish or irrational. And we might refer to those actions as “insane,” but when we talk about someone running into a school to cut children, we are definitely talking about the other definition: serious mental illness, or madness. The really really bad stuff.
But let’s be honest: When you think about it, it’s pretty amazing that we don’t see more madness in the world. Think of how often something goes wrong with someone’s leg, or neck, or stomach. Why shouldn’t things go wrong with brains just as frequently?
Of course, lots of things do go wrong with brains, that don’t result in anything like this. Older people tend to get very forgetful, some people need to wash their hands strangely often, while others get deeply depressed. But it’s pretty amazing how rarely a person totally snaps and starts doing horrible things like this.
Which brings up a really interesting question: It’s also a rare occurrence when someone writes a really great song, or invents a new medicine. But no one calls them Insane for doing so. So what’s the difference?
It comes down to this – there are certain core qualities that are universal, and what we call “Insanity” is what occurs when someone acts in a way that goes totally against those qualities.
Now you may not have any inclination to music composition, but you’d probably feel pretty good if you happened to write the most popular song since “Gangnam Style.” You certainly wouldn’t feel that doing so goes against who and what you are. Similarly, you might absolutely stink at science classes, but if you happened to invent the cure for cancer, I’ll bet you’d feel downright great about it!
Humans have certain innate qualities, just as we dogs do. For example, normal humans might get involved in wars, but they would never normally want to randomly kill people in their own society, especially children. Every instinct in a normal human tells them to love and protect children (even if they’re the sort who doesn’t especially like kids very much!). Humans also naturally have a quality called Empathy, which means they’ll imagine they feel something someone else experiences (you know how your mouth pulls in if you see someone else suck on a lemon?!).
To do something like these horrible recent acts means that those humans didn’t have these normal qualities. Maybe they were born without them, or maybe they had some experiences that made them block them out. But even that’s not an explanation for what they did; they had to choose to do these things. Imagine waking up one morning and thinking “Well it’s a nice day outside. I think I’ll have some breakfast and straighten up my desk, and then I’ll go throw gasoline on some strangers and light them on fire.” It doesn’t make sense, does it?
That’s Insanity. It’s something that’s so bizarre that it boggles the mind when one tries to imagine it.
Dogs can go Insane too. Every instinct in us tells us to protect our loved ones, and give them all the affection we can. But there’s a disease called Rabies, which, if a dog gets it, will make it attack everyone around, including those it loves most. (You might have seen a movie or read a book called “Old Yeller,” one of the best dog stories ever written, which has a terrifying depiction of Rabies that no reader or viewer ever forgets.)
So is there a cure for Insanity? Is there a way to make the world Insanity-free? Sadly, no. As I said before, there are ways to try to reduce its danger – by keeping guns out of crazy people’s hands, by having good police and security, and of course by having easily-accessible mental health services. But some dog out there is still going to go crazy and bite people, and some human is still going to… well… do the same.
But here’s what you can do. Decide what you think is Super-Sane. The opposite of Insane. Maybe you think it’s Super-Sane to give some food to a hungry person. Maybe you think it’s Super-Sane to tell your family you love them, or hug a friend. Maybe you think it’s Super-Sane to get involved politically for a cause you believe in. Maybe you think it’s Super-Sane to pray for goodness and sanity and love.
Who knows, maybe you think it’s Super-Sane to go pet a dog, or even adopt a pet who might otherwise never get a home! That was sure the Super-Sanest thing Handsome ever did (in my opinion, anyway)!
You see, when you do something Super-Sane, you actually make the world a better place. And who knows, maybe you’ll do something so good that you’ll keep someone else out there from going Insane, or from acting on their worst feelings. I can’t guarantee it, but it is possible.
So be Sanity! Get out there and live the Super-Sanest life you possibly can.
And meanwhile, one Super-Sane thing I can do is to say to all of you… thanks for everything! You’re the best pals a pooch ever had.
And have an INSANELY great 2013!!!