A Culture of Sociopaths

1purple_sociopathA Culture of

depressing doesn’t it?  Just think about
that phrase for a minute…it’s outrageous isn’t it?  Why don’t you do a little “Google search” for
a few minutes and read a few things I did earlier this week.  Check out the following: 



Let me say
as I continue here – I’m not going to get “overly religious” with this short
post.  Although there are obvious
conclusions and statements of faith that could be (and, truthfully, should be)
spoken, I’m looking at the PURE realism of something that is fast becoming a
reality in contemporary culture – that being, systemic sociopathy.  You know what that means?  Essentially, moral and ethical anarchy. 

I have
listened intentionally to the major stories in the news over the past weeks. From
Lance Armstrong to the Notre Dame football player to the continual discussion
in sports about P.E.D. (performance enhancing drugs) and to the droning effect of
our nation’s divisive and hostile political climate…from the Bernie Madoffs of
the world to the Presidents who look straight into a camera and argue about the
definition of “is” – it is all the same story, different day.  Sociopathology.    You tell me…here is a “short list” of what
is now called, “antisocial personality disorder (short for sociopathy):

personality disorder is characterized by at least 3 of the following:

unconcern for the feelings of others;

and persistent attitude of irresponsibility and disregard for social norms,
rules, and obligations;

to maintain enduring relationships, though having no difficulty in establishing

low tolerance to frustration and a low threshold for discharge of aggression,
including violence;

to experience guilt or to profit from experience, particularly punishment;

prone to blame others or to offer plausible rationalizations for the behavior
that has brought the person into conflict with society.

Hard not to
jump to conclusions, isn’t it?  For
example, I read some of the transcripts of Lance Armstrong’s now famous
interview with Ms. O.  Mr. Armstrong did
not have a bit of shame for promoting years of lying, bullying and deceit.  In fact, the only reason he felt badly about
anything is because it was going to cost him money (at least temporarily).  He said he felt like he was getting an
unjustifiable “death sentence” and that it wasn’t fair for people to critique
his life and behavior.  Now, there are
many who are willing to look the other way because the guy is famous and rich.
In addition, his foundation has raised a half a billion dollars for cancer
research.  So, in some eyes, the “ends
justifies the means.” 

Now, again,
I will walk away from the temptation to explore the philosophy that the “ends
justifies the means.”  That will have to
be a discussion for another post.  Without
even making one statement of critique, let me say this, a lifestyle of
believing that “the end justifies the means” has become a mantra for
contemporary living for many people. 
From resisting personal responsibility for an inherent laziness to
addictions to video games and video violence…from people blaming fast food restaurants
for their weight problem to students who blame teachers for their “less than
average” grades (every, single semester in my college teaching career I have a
minimum of 20% of students who want to argue their grades despite the fact that
they did not do the work).  We have
starlets who aren’t in jail for repeatedly driving drunk and we have football
and other sports stars who are so spoiled by the constant adulation and a
culture of “fame worshippers” that they feel that they are above personal guilt
for any of their actions.  All these
examples have one thing in common – they all fit within the above description
of sociopathic behavior. 

I heard the
other day on a television show (a panel was discussing current events and the
history we have in the most recent decades of denying truth, boldface lying and
deceit-filled living especially among those public figures whom we are
challenged to trust) some shocking but true words:

“Being famous and being cool is more
important than being moral.  Having fame
and coolness is more important than shame.”

I must
admit, I wasn’t carefully watching the show. 
I was actually on the floor playing some tug-o-war with my dog but that
phrase SCREAMED at me as if I had a massive speaker system blaring over 120 db.
straight into my ears.  I paused for a
moment and without a hesitation or rationalization I said “YES, that’s
true!”  I guess that being cool gives you
a personal pass these days to do what you want. 
Fame and narcissism allows you to do anything and say anything and act
anyway you want without the potential of negative repercussions.  It is simply THE excuse, THE rationalization
and THE way that most people live their lives – it is as if they were “giving
the finger” to the world as they prepare to tell their next lie, blame the next
person, or act in another irresponsible manner. 

This is NOT
a proclamation of fatalism nor am I attempting to judge culture…all I am
attempting to do is observe what we see taking place around us.  I think we have “cried wolf” enough times
about lying that it is now inculcated into our existence in a manner where
shame and guilt does not alter the story. And friends, that is simply sad. What more is
that it is an epidemic that has crippling implications.  There is a level of cynicism in society that
is palatable…there is a level of distrust that actually perpetuates or “juices
up” the problem because if everyone is a liar and out for themselves (without
guilt or shame) then it is every “man and woman” for themselves and the “end
does justify the means.” 

So, I’m
going to stop here…not very uplifting but an observation that I am in the
process of processing.  Call it what you
will this is a well-embedded cultural dilemma of which there is no simplistic
answer.  You would think enough lessons
from the school of hard knocks would correct the listing of the ship but that’s
not what I have experienced.  Sociopathy
births more sociopathy.  And you know
what?  We might not see a change until
the whole system implodes.  If that is
the coming scenario, God help us!  

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