If you feel like the inmates are running the asylum, you aren’t far wrong. Here are some things driving sane people crazy:
- Why are leaders saying we’re in a climate emergency but acting like it’s business as usual?
- If COVID is a dangerous pandemic, why have our leaders largely declared it to be over? And hello Monkeypox?
- If we’re such a rich and successful society, why are there so many homeless people?
- Why could my parents afford a house easily but my children will never be able to?
- (Canadians): Why is our healthcare system collapsing and our governments are ignoring it – even causing it?
- In this day and age, why the he-double-hockey-sticks would Russia invade Ukraine?
If it seems like the world is falling apart, it is. If it seems like nobody is doing anything about it, that’s a fair assessment of the people in power. As Greta Thunberg said about climate ‘action,’ by world leaders:
“Build back better. Blah, blah, blah. Green economy. Blah blah blah. Net zero by 2050. Blah, blah, blah. This is all we hear from our so-called leaders. Words that sound great but so far have not led to action. Our hopes and ambitions drown in their empty promises.”
If these are truly the serious problems we’re being told they are, then why are people in power doing less than nothing about it? Most of us believe deep down that if things were really that bad, our leaders would set aside their squabbling and grifting and do something about it. That’s what any sane, sensible person would do.
Welcome to Crazytown
But what if the people on top actually are insane? If you want to stay sane yourself, you have to be able to recognize lunacy in others, otherwise you have no foundation. If you look at people doing crazy, foolish things and accept that as normal – welcome to Crazytown yourself.
And yet: our glorious leaders are saying we face tremendous problems…but their actions make those problems worse. If we’re realistic, we do face serious problems. Climate change is undeniable now except for the really determined. It’s hard to pretend something is not happening while it is obviously is.
Heat domes and terrible heat waves, floods and mega-fires are now annual events – forest fire season is now year-round in some areas. Seas are rising and insurance companies are refusing to insure homes that are guaranteed to be lost. As predicted, climate change is spreading disease around the world.
Our leaders wring their hands about all this…but take actions that ensure it will all get worse. Who’s the crazy one?
Einstein was Right
Albert Einstein was a genius in many ways. Clearly he advanced physics and our understanding of the universe, but he also was a wise man:
“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”
“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”
And yet we are doing both. Our leaders got us into this mess and they are doing exactly what they did to create the problems to ‘solve’ them. Too much pollution causing problems? Let’s acknowledge that – and keep on polluting! Climate change accelerating? We’ll create a commission to study it – and keep doing what’s causing it. Too many billionaires and homeless – let’s keep cutting taxes on the rich. Driving Indigenous people off their land so it can be mined – perform a ‘land acknowledgement’ and then pillage away.
We are also crazy if we think that we can keep electing these people and expecting everything to work out fine.
Our Leaders Have Other Priorities
This is obvious to non-insane people, but continuing to do things that caused problems will make them worse. Our leaders actually do understand this, but they don’t care. This is a key to surviving in our insane world. If you can’t understand why a leader can look you straight in the eye and say a problem is deadly serious – and then make it worse – you’ll lose your own grip on reality. You will start to question if maybe it’s you and reality that are wrong.
Humans are social beings and it is incredibly difficult for us to separate from the herd. We are driven to conform, even to the point of endangering ourselves and others. Many of us would rather risk disease and death than wear a mask to prevent getting COVID, that’s how powerful our need to conform is.
Our leaders know this and have taken measures to make us get back to ‘business as usual,’ meaning get back consuming, traveling, and in the office. They want the world exactly as it was pre-pandemic because that’s the world they created and profit greatly from. Was it a world in decline, on a path to destruction by climate change? Yes, and they don’t care. Was it fair for the rest of us? No, and they don’t care.
This is crazy-making for normal humans. Of course we want to leave a better future for our children. Of course we want to make the world fairer for everyone. What kind of person would not want that? How pathologically selfish does someone have to be, that they feel entitled to wreck the world for their own benefit?
The Least Generation
My grandparents’ generation fought in the Second World War so that their children and grandchildren – me – could live in peace and freedom. They literally sacrificed their own lives so we could have better lives. Somehow, these people who behaved so incredibly selflessly raised the most selfish generation the world has ever seen: the Greatest Generation raised the Least Generation.
Their kids have gone on an orgy of greed and selfishness that has literally brought civilization and the future of human life to the brink. This is not the article to explain it, but if you are not aware, climate change can and will wipe most humans off the planet. Scientists have been explaining this to our leaders for decades, and the response has been to conceal, to delay, to lie, in order to allow business-as-usual to continue.
What kind of person would do such things, knowing the suffering and destruction that will result? Exxon Mobil executives knew decades ago that their product was causing climate change that would become deadly to the point of utterly destroying civilization and billions of people. They knew. And they carried on funding climate denial for decades after that – probably still are. Every time they’ve said they’ll stop funding climate denial, they have lied.
Exxon is not the only fossil fuel company that knew and lied – most of the coal and oil majors knew and then funded climate denial for years and years anyway. In fact, most large corporations have broken the law, in many cases simply because it was cheaper than obeying. The cost-benefit analysis came out in favour of the destruction of humanity, so that’s the course we’re on because the rich and their corporations control our world.
The Lunatics are Running the Asylum
It’s an old joke, but what if it’s true? What if, despite their expensive suits and confident airs, they are the loonies? It would explain their behaviour. It’s time to stop accepting that ‘all politicians lie’ and realize maybe that’s because we have allowed the worst kind of people to be our leaders.
Narcissism is the greatest threat of our time. In brief:
- Most political leaders and many CEOs are narcissists.
- Narcissists are biologically different from humans – their brains are different. As a result, they think, feel, and behave very differently from humans.
- Narcissists can only love themselves. They must dominate all others into worshipping them. They do not and cannot care about other people or the future, therefore they cannot care about climate change.
- Narcissists are more or less detached from reality. The more power they get, the worse their detachment and behaviour gets.
I imagine you can see the problem with allowing these people to be in charge of anything, and here we’ve got them running most countries and many companies.
Staying Sane When the World Has Lost Its Mind
Rudyard Kipling’s famous poem ‘If‘ comes to mind:
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise…
The worst people have gained power and they are attempting to twist reality to match their disordered minds. Reality may bend a bit, but we will be the ones who ultimately break.
The solution to being ruled by narcissists is to eliminate them from positions of power, but that’s a tall order and they will fight to the end. They will turn us against each other to maintain their position. If the solution is out of reach we can respond differently.
The only sensible response when you find yourself dealing with a sociopath of any kind is avoidance. When they rule the country, when they are the health officers, when they are the CEOs – well, they cannot be avoided.
Strength in Community
To survive, our best chance is to form communities of like-minded people. If you believe firmly (and correctly) that wearing a mask during a pandemic is a wise thing to do, but you’re surrounded by people who don’t, they are going to wear you down. Most of us would rather risk our lives than look or seem different from others. We may like to believe we’re strong, independent individuals, but humans are highly social – resisting doing what everyone else is doing goes against our wiring.
So, find and spend time with people who share your values, whether that’s masking-up during COVID or facing the reality of climate change. The important thing is that they, like you, accept truth. They are not in denial, they are not pretending COVID is ‘over’ or climate change is no big deal, and so on. You don’t want to fall in with a community of deluded fools like the truck convoy. Those people are detached from reality and their community is leading them further and further astray.
Your community can be virtual or in-person or both. The important thing is that you are surrounded by positive, uplifting people who accept reality. This will feed your soul and make you whole. In reality, we normal, decent people outnumber the sociopaths 100-to-1, but we allow them to divide-and-conquer us.
We are starting to come together. People are sensing the looming danger of the climate crisis and that our leaders are simply not up to protecting us. Blessed Unrest: How the Largest Social Movement in History Is Restoring Grace, Justice, and Beauty to the World is an inspiring book by Paul Hawken that talks about exactly what its title says. Normal humans are coming together in groups large and small to, well, restore some grace, justice, and beauty to the world.
Reading books like this helps you realize you’re not the crazy one. Other sorts of books, while solidly based in reality, can be crazy-making unless you’re part of a supportive group. Paul Hawken has also written a book called Regeneration: Ending the Climate Crisis in One Generation. When you realize the threat posed by climate change and that solutions are at hand, it can make you a bit crazy to also realize that our leaders are still making it worse.
This is going to get much worse, because we are passing tipping points of no return. Meaning, species are going extinct, for example. If your favourite songbird vanishes, you will feel a sense of loss. That is normal. When the losses pile up, though, the grief can get overwhelming.
Grieving Our Lost Home
We have radically altered Earth and we’re far from done. Many more species will go extinct, including most of us if we don’t change course. The world is becoming more urban and there are fewer places for us to connect to nature, to ground ourselves. Extreme weather events are now deadly and commonplace. Cities are sinking and many will be lost.
The world is changing and will be quite different. Most of us will grieve this loss, whether we are conscious of why we feel sad or angry or not. (Sociopaths will not grieve – they see opportunity.) We have to allow ourselves to grieve while also acting. It’s as though you’ve been in a horrible accident and one of your children has been killed, but if you don’t move out of the way you and your other child will be killed, too. You may be in great mental and physical pain…but you still have to move.
We must grieve and act simultaneously, because we don’t have time to mourn our losses first. We’re in a war that we’re losing badly and that means our destruction if we lose. The best way to get through this is to grieve with compatriots and turn your anger into activism.
The Threat of Pathocracy
Most democracies are in decline and are in danger of becoming autocracies, which are best described as pathocracies. A pathocracy is government by people with “disordered minds,” also known as sociopaths. Trump is one, and we got a glimpse of the America he would create. Putin is also a sociopath, as is XI Jinping. No sane person wants to live in a pathocracy; it is soul-destroying.
As climate change accelerates, there will be more pathocracies as people turn to strongmen during difficult times. These strongmen are invariably sociopathic grifters who turn the whole country into an extension of themselves. The people are merely pawns, to be used or disposed of as the Great Leader sees fit.
If we allow pathocracy to become the norm, humanity is doomed. The lunatics will wreck the asylum because climate change will run rampant. We’ve seen how their approach to ‘letting COVID rip’ has worked out – they have been doing the same with climate change for decades.
Saving Us – How to Stay Sane in an Insane World
All the diverse environmental and social justice organizations need to realise that your fight is my fight. We cannot stop climate change unless we also eliminate much inequality. BIllionaires are a policy failure and must be eliminated, for example.
The solutions are available and have been some time. Professor Katherine Hayhoe has written Saving Us: A Climate Scientist’s Case for Hope and Healing in a Divided World that approaches this from a Christian angle. Professor Michael Mann has written The New Climate War: The Fight to Take Back Our Planet – which delivers what the title says.
I have listed many sources on my Recommendations page, and I add to it regularly. Those books and many others are listed, along with movies and articles. I have just started adding a very important section on organizations worth supporting or joining, because the most important thing to keep you sane in our increasingly insane world is:
- Surround yourself with people who accept reality and work to create a better one