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I Have Never Been Depressed – Empathy and Libertarianism on the Loose

March 14, 2013 Author: Anthony Pacheco Category: Anthonyisms, Not Exactly Random  1 Comment

In my life I have been many things, some bad, hopefully mostly good.

But I have never been depressed. I’ve been sad, lonely, disappointed, hurt and mystified. You name it, I’ve felt it, and those that really know me understand my life wasn’t exactly white-bread middle-class, either.

Part of my dodging the depression bullet is genetics and health. I do not have a condition or chemical imbalance that causes this (clinical) condition.

I’m talking about the other card on the table: depression caused by an external factors colliding with internal philosophy. I see this all the time. So does everyone else.

What is my secret?

Empathy, certainly a little bit, but the root of my non-depression is I am a libertarian. Let’s talk about empathy first.

Empathy and Depression

True empathy is a learned trait. That is, in order for a person to use empathy in a holistic manner, someone must teach that person to do so

However, some people are born with the natural trait of empathy. Spend some time with young children and you can see some of them have an natural affiliation for others outside their sense of self. They have a natural predominant “nurture” (mostly girls) or “protect” (mostly boys) thought processes. Their nature is kindness.

I am one of these people, and also someone taught empathy. I am very thankful for the way I’m wired and what I have learned.

After a certain point, an empathetic person’s sense of self has a natural defense against depression because we have a natural barrier to destructive inward reflection and selfishness. It is difficult for someone to engage in self-destructive behavior if a person understands what causes that in others. It is difficult for that person to engage in selfish behavior, due to empathy for others, as many things cease to become a zero-sum game. To the empath, there are no winners and losers. One person’s success is not your failure.

False-critical reflection and selfishness will cause depression. That is not to say that a depressed person is self-destructive or selfish, but an empathetic person has a built-in defense against depression because they use empathy as a default behavior.

For me, this is part of my lack of depression. The major part of this is I am a libertarian both in words and deeds. People attribute libertarianism often as standing “against” something.

Opposition is symptomatic of an intrinsic philosophy.

Libertarian Philosophy and the Freedom from Depression

Libertarianism is the fundamental belief that all people are good unless a person proves otherwise. There are certain social aspects of this such as trust-verify relationships and game theory. For example, let’s say I’m good friends with Larry and I trust him because he has proven to me he is trustworthy. I tell Larry that I’m going to buy a used car from my neighbor Bob. Larry says whoa there Anthony. Bob is a total scum-bag and will try to cheat you, because he cheated me by selling me a used car, but then put different tires on it before delivery/swapping out other parts/whatever.

Wow, okay. Thanks Larry. I won’t deal with Bob!

That’s one example of the social nature of trust-verify.

Beyond the social aspects of trust-verify lies dealing with people one-on-one. How we deal with people is the core of libertarian philosophy, not what libertarianism is not (“leave me alone, I will leave you alone,” statism is evil, mind-your-own-business, etc.). A person’s relationship with others comes from individual behavior and never from a group.

This simplicity heads right over to the lack of coercion in all things libertarianism. When a person “gives up” the tribalism concept of control = survival, then that person experiences liberation in the true sense of the word. To summarize:

All people are good until proven otherwise –> relationships are always individual –> giving up forced coercion –> results in liberation of the mind.

Hold on, I’m going somewhere here, folks.

Free. Your. Mind.

When you give up trying to control others either through your actions (coercive force) or by proxy (politics), your relationship with other people shifts dramatically. You enter a zen-like state of immediacy that deals with reality as it is, not how you wish it to be. A libertarian mind rebels against collectivism and therefore all the depressing attributes associated with forceful coercion.

For example, Some people are cruel. It is not our nature to be cruel.

Let’s go over some common troupes:

Troupe Collectivism Libertarianism
Racism White men owned slaves, therefore white men are prone to slavery and must make reparations I am not racist. Therefore, I am not guilty of racism. Also, many cultures practiced slavery
Sexism Men rape. Therefore we must presume that there is a rape culture fostered by the male patriarchy I am not a rapist. Therefore, I reject forcing me to pay for the sins of a felon because I did not commit the felony; I also reject the notion of a male patriarchy in today’s society
Discrimination People discriminate, therefore we must pass laws to compensate for the innate discrimination present in society I do not discriminate. Therefore, I judge people on his or hers each merit and reject any coercion to conform to that belief
Homosexuality The Bible/Koran/other religious document says all homos are evil and have cooties Sexual preference is a result of genetic and clinical attributes. Therefore, a homosexual is evil only if he or she display traits such as sociopathy or felonious, violent behavior, which is not specific to sexual orientation
Homosexuality Discrimination against homosexuality occurs therefore we must compensate by teaching children about homosexuality We must respect children’s sexuality and not force one on them
Drugs Drugs are bad for you, therefore we must pass laws protecting people from drugs Drugs don’t kill people. People kill people
Guns Guns kill people, therefore we must ban guns People kill bad people and people kill good people. The bad people killing good people with guns or other objects should be punished accordingly
Wealth We must make sure we take care of poor people I agree, but I do not believe in forcing people to give up their property for any cause
Divorce In order to protect women, we must assume a divorce is “no fault” and have the state administer child support and alimony under the threat of confiscation or incarceration I reject the notion that we should force men, or women, by the state to reallocate their resources when they are not at fault

 

and so on and so forth.

For good or bad, when a person rejects the use of force in almost all things, that person frees his mind from actual guilt and self-destructive thinking. Depression caused by behaviors becomes rare and difficult. Improving the world becomes a matter of helping people around you through your direct actions, not by forcing other people to do as you say. If we control the things we can control and reject controlling the things that are not our purview, what is there to be depressed about?

Nothing. I reject the collectivist/elitist reality and substitute one of my own.

Libertarianism philosophy or lack there of, however, also relates directly to empathy in different ways than we discussed above. And yes, I’m going to go there.

Collectivism and Elitism is a Lack of Empathy and a Lack of Empathy can Cause Depression

Now we come full circle.

Forcing someone who is not guilty of a social ill or crime to pay for another person’s social ill or crime is collectivism. Often times it is also elitist behavior and indicative of a behavioral pathology. A libertarian asserts this is contrary to our natures (control = survival vs. empathy = survival). While it is easier to stick it to the man, figuratively and literally at the ballot box, talk-show or blog post, it’s quite another to do it face-to-face. Not only is this behavior passive-aggressive and therefore subversive and coercive, it is also an appalling lack of empathy. It is punishing the son for the sins of the father. It is, at the very core, an injustice and tyranny of the group unto the individual. It is wrong and morally bankrupt.

This is a lack of empathy. Our natures rebel against such negative behaviors. We become empty, sullen, resentful.

Depressed.

Reject the forces that urge harm by proxy and suffering for those sins ceases.

There is no cure for the human condition. Libertarianism is the embrace of positive social nature and is the triumph and celebration of the individual. What a wonderful, positive place for the mind to be!

Libertarian Man

This is how I start and end my day.

At the Printers

February 03, 2013 Author: Anthony Pacheco Category: Anthonyisms, The Craft  0 Comments

Armageddon’s Princess is now at the printers. A proof will arrive in a few days for approval. Literally, this is the last step (approving the cover actually on the book) and the last chance to find a typo before the printed version is locked and the text converted to Kindle format.

And, just because it’s frep’n outstanding, here’s the cover again.

The end is near!

Armageddon's Princess

The Christmas Memory of Scent

December 15, 2012 Author: Anthony Pacheco Category: Anthonyisms, Atmosphere, Not Exactly Random, The Craft  0 Comments

The house smells so wonderful.

My penchant for Scrooge-like feelings during the holiday season has slowly been replaced by warm memories of my children’s joy for the season. For young boys, yes, Christmas is a lot about presents. If you are a good parent, if you could overcome the bombastic rampant commercialism, there is an underlying simplicity about the season that can pull at the heart like no other time.

This morning Thing Two came in while I was getting dressed, wanting to know if we could go get Thing One’s Christmas present tonight. How cute is that? I’ll tell you how cute it is, it is a bit of the ultra-cuteness.

Yes there are the presents. But then there is the smell of the tree. The gingerbread house. The decorating. The Christmas cookies. The story of Christmas. Grandpa and Nanna. Daddy’s Christmas Day roast. Santa. The music. The warm fireplace and the happy dog.

Long after those presents are gone, the memories of our close family during this time will linger on. One day my sons will be walking in one of the great national forests around here, and after the morning rain, smell the fresh scent of grand firs. And it will smell like Christmas.

And that will be magical, always magical, even in the dead of summer, it will be Christmas magic.

(repost from 2008)

Among Others by Jo Walton

November 25, 2012 Author: Anthony Pacheco Category: Anthonyisms, Characterization, Plot, Setting, The Craft  0 Comments

Among OthersAmong Others by Jo Walton

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’m not too sure what I was expecting when I picked this up for my Kindle when I saw it won the Hugo, but I was really surprised to find a come-of-age young adult novel. Twenty pages into the book I could envision an editor seeing this book for the first time and rubbing her hands with glee. AMONG OTHERS was extremely delicious as a urban fantasy dipped in the love of science fiction in the voice of a fifteen year-old girl.

It wasn’t perfect, but it was pretty close. This book was written for people who love a good story, love science fiction, magic and love come-of-age novels. The heartache of the main character was raw and painful at times. We get glimpses of a terribleness too terrible to describe. But Walton starts the book in the most perfect place–that after tragedy and heartache, there is life.The yearning that comes with reading science fiction can be more than just story, it’s water for the thirsty, color for the blind and a light in the darkness.

View all my reviews

You Are the First Responder

September 11, 2012 Author: Anthony Pacheco Category: Anthonyisms  0 Comments

On this day in the Year 2001, a group of Americans, when faced with the horror of the morning unfold, sought to do what Americans were born to do. They fought back, by themselves, against evil and tyranny of the worst sort, and they sacrificed their lives to do the right thing, even when it was the hard thing.

In this age of double-talk and other tomfoolery, in which the very language we hold dear is used to debase the individual and the righteous, there comes a time when Goodly Men and Women must take a stand against those who would use labels to define us.

Those who fought back shook off more than the enemy. At their moment of truth, these brave Americans were first responders.

You are a first responder.

If you think otherwise—your very thoughts besmirch the honor of those brave people and for you, they died in vain.

For the rest of us, we remember them as we should remember them—they made the attempt and succeeded, they set a standard for which we judge all like men and women.

There comes a time where, in the midst of blood and death, we can take action and prevail.

You are a first responder. If another labels you as something different, this is where you take your first stand.

Addiction

March 09, 2012 Author: Anthony Pacheco Category: Anthonyisms, Not Exactly Random  4 Comments

Sometimes our bodies betray us and work against our nature, but for many sorrow is an addiction.

Like happiness, it fills a void. Feeling empty is the opposite of sorrow and happiness. Passion takes on many forms, and a passionate woman full of sorrow is everything but an empty space.

Thus, depression sometimes is a form of self-defense, but, insidious that it is, it is more an abusive lover who is the only one to pay attention. It’s like alcoholism: feeling drunk is better than not feeling anything at all.

There are many ways into addiction, and half as many ways getting out. Sadness may be better than the bottomless pit, but the mountain of life is there for a reason.

Climb it or sit around at the bottom looking at the clouds. Happiness is not a choice or an obligation.

Happiness is an addiction, and the end result of looking up at the top, rather looking into the abyss.

It’s that simple.

Focus

January 26, 2012 Author: Anthony Pacheco Category: Anthonyisms, Not Exactly Random  2 Comments

In order to gain focus, one must often lose focus.

A person at any given time is in a state defined both by who she is and who she wants to be.

This definition is everything. We can either let other people and actions or even the actions that we cause that we do not wish, define us. In order to move to where we want to be, we must let go of the things that currently define us that are negative in nature.

Losing focus is one way to do this. Growing up, the wise told us  to not let others define us. The hard slog, however, is to recognize when our definition of who and what we are is the wrong one. We often focus on the wrong things. Perhaps this thing consumes us because it is painful and needs attention. Perhaps it is unavoidable. Perhaps it is a habit.

It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t deserve focus. It may need attention, sometimes lots of attention, but it’s not who we are.

We are not pain.

We are not heartache.

We are not loneliness.

We have felt all these things. Sometimes we can’t let them go, but we can turn from them. Adversity is either a cup to hold the raindrop or the raindrop that falls into the lake. Focus is our choice.

Choose wisely.

Some Men

January 15, 2012 Author: Anthony Pacheco Category: Anthonyisms, Not Exactly Random  0 Comments

There are men who simply never leave.

It never occurs to them. They stand in the eye of the storm for so long they become the eye. They will always be there, it is a quantum certainty, their resolve woven directly in their reality.

A friend disappears. Sometimes another. They leave on clouds of bleak or simply fade away. It does not matter, though, as a man reaches out his hand and plunges it into the maelstrom. Grab on, friend. Grab on.

Sometimes a hand claps his. It is usually a feminine hand.

The man pulls. Sometimes the hand lets go in fear of the eye, but he never will. Sometimes he pulls and draws the person into his calm existence.

“I’m sorry I went away,” her eyes will say.

The man will smile, for the wind apologizing to the rock for blowing is amusing to him.

Sometimes, her eyes are bittersweet.

The man will still smile.

Here, in the center, there is the now, never the past, only the future. Regrets are for the wind.

I’ll Never Shut Up, Get Used to That Now

December 20, 2011 Author: Anthony Pacheco Category: Anthonyisms, Not Exactly Random, The Craft  0 Comments

As the year ends, this has been an amazing journey for me as a writer. I’ve learned so much. I pulled up my very first novel and looked at it. It was as if another person wrote it. On drugs. With one hand. Upside down. There may have even been drool. Electronic drool. If my laptop could speak its mind, I think the words about that first book would have been “durp drup durp.”

There are things about me that I keep close to my heart. I’ve hinted here and there, and while I don’t keep secrets, I’ve also pointed out that sometimes knowledge is a burden. That wasn’t a hint to back off. It was an attempt not to contaminate you.

Yet, this year, that heart is heavy for many writers. In some ways, my empathy comes full circle. I know first hand that some journeys are steps where your own shadow is your only company. I’ve learned since joining the interweb tubes club that it’s best to simply offer a kind word. No one wants to hear that sorrows are relative even if that is the universal truth that lends perspective and change. These are things that simply don’t convey because I am not sitting across the table looking into your eyes and sharing your burdens.

So what does that have to do with writing?

Ah, you see my friends, writing is a skill for honing, practicing and developing. Writing from the depths of your core, however, requires something altogether different. This year, I not so much grew my writing talent as I’ve grown as a person. I’ve come to terms with some of my own little slices of bleak.

Sometimes, understanding is a block.

Don’t come to grips with whatever.

Write it out.

Don’t delve deep into the mind of your own psyche.

Write it out.

Don’t reach out for empathy and a sympathetic ear.

Write it out.

Write it out. Write it out. Write it out. This is what flows in our blood. This is who we are. The blank page deserves honesty. If, at the end of the last page of the last chapter, you’ve bled and cried, then so be it.

Sometimes the only connection is the literary connection. The void, sometimes, can only be filled with words.

The Memory of Scent

December 17, 2011 Author: Anthony Pacheco Category: Anthonyisms, Not Exactly Random  4 Comments

The house smells so wonderful.

My penchant for Scrooge-like feelings during the holiday season has slowly been replaced by warm memories of my children’s joy for the season. For young boys, yes, Christmas is a lot about presents. If you are a good parent, if you could overcome the bombastic rampant commercialism, there is an underlying simplicity about the season that can pull at the heart like no other time.

This morning Thing Two came in while I was getting dressed, wanting to know if we could go get Thing One’s Christmas present tonight. How cute is that? I’ll tell you how cute it is, it is a bit of the ultra-cuteness.

Yes there are the presents. But then there is the smell of the tree. The gingerbread house. The decorating. The Christmas cookies. The story of Christmas. Grandpa and Nanna. Daddy’s Christmas Day roast. Santa. The music. The warm fireplace and the happy dog.

Long after those presents are gone, the memories of our close family during this time will linger on. One day my sons will be walking in one of the great national forests around here, and after the morning rain, smell the fresh scent of grand firs. And it will smell like Christmas.

And that will be magical, always magical, even in the dead of summer, it will be Christmas magic.

(repost from 2008)