Tag Archives: Law & Order

Putting One Foot In Front Of The Other

Life is not a spectator sport. Life is to be embraced, battled, survived and celebrated. Yet there are times (perhaps long stretches of them) that life is barely tolerable. The world, if it must exist, is best viewed from under a blankie from the vantage point of the couch. There are variations on this lookout. Perhaps a box of Cap’n Crunch (crunch berries optional) is involved. There may be an 18-hour background chatter of Law & Order employed. The constant of course is the elastic waist pant. No respectable day of sloth can be had in real pants.

Self-imposed solitary confinement is nothing to aspire to, but it’s not shameful either. One need only be concerned if frequency or duration increases (like an erectile dysfunction drug side effect; after four days one should seek medial attention.) If we are relatively healthy people, our forays into fleece and foods of childhood are sporadic and strangely motivating. But what of the everyday less-than-fleece malaise?

If life is lived with any participation: sh*t happens. Things come up that are not of our own making and that make us miserable. Even good things (new; jobs, projects, relationships, etc.) can make us feel overwhelmingly uneasy. Dread, misery and anxiety are often lumped into the category of “stress.” Since “stress” can also result from happy things, we sill stick with specifics; dread, misery and anxiety.

  • Dread – Channel your Scarlett O’Hara
    • Don’t think about it until tomorrow. Dread is one of the all time biggest thieves of happiness there is. Weeks will be wasted dreading an event that at most will encompass 24 hours. Each time a lump in the pit of your stomach starts to form, grab your phone, notebook, slab of stone and write down your specific concern (i.e., my cousin-in-law will use the funeral as a platform for subtle anti-Semitic rhetoric) and go back to the business at hand. Trust that the specific concern has been properly mulled.
    • Focus on getting back to Tara. Yes that root canal or colonoscopy is going to be wretched. Nothing will change that. Focus on what you will do after the event (and after the narcotics wear off.) Plan something enjoyable.
  • Misery
    • Awful things happen, that is the burden of survival. Disease, death, desertion are often unavoidable. Sadness and often mourning is wildly appropriate, but should not become a lifestyle. There’s really only one way out; take a shower. Get up, put one foot in front of the other and fake it ‘til you make it. Pretend you are functioning and before you know it, you will be.
  • Anxiety
    • High anxiety (as it relates to a state of being not a Mel Brooks’ film) is a very uncomfortable state. Sustained non-specific anxiety (not related to an event) warrants medical attention.
    • The remedy for event specific anxiety is often directly related to the event:
      • Public speaking? Rehearse, rehearse & remember that most people aren’t really listening
      • Job interview? Research and keep in mind that you are interviewing them as well
      • Blind date? Have an exit plan
      • Socializing with people you do not know? Think of yourself as Jane Goodall and discover everything you can about these people and their ways

Often the best way out or through is to consider what we’d advise a friend. Most likely we would not encourage a friend to perseverate, we’d encourage them to get up and get out. We would lift the afghan from their shoulders, brush the crumbs from their chest, wipe the melted ice cream from their chin and whisper; step into the sun, step into the light.

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Posted by on September 30, 2012 in Well-Being


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The Ails Of Justice

Anyone with even a cursory (Law & Order watching) understanding of the legal system knows it is rarely a true arbiter of right and wrong.  There are endless shades of gray and bizarre roadblocks.  Most arbitrary of all is that verdicts are often rendered by juries.  Juries made up not of young Henry Fondas and Jack Klugmans, but of people who did not get out of serving.  Outside of the courtroom, media frenzy and/or public sentiment can’t help but find its way into the mix.  In the end, everyone involved in meting out justice is merely human.

None of this however prevents me from shaking my head in bewilderment with the news that the three ivy league college students who poisoned a 19 year old during a fraternity ritual were acquitted.  Even more disturbing is that they were charge with hazing, not with murder.  They filled a teenager with four times the legal limit of alcohol and left him to die.  Granted they are no longer attending the university and the fraternity in question was forced to close its chapter, but these young men are free.  They walk away from what they did without any tangible repercussions save their conscience.  The more you know about this case the more dark assumptions you can make about the wheels of justice.  But even a cursory glance strikes one as odd.

The news is made all the more jarring with the announcement that Peter Madoff is headed to jail.  Yes, it has taken three years, and no he hasn’t actually admitted to anything (but innocent people don’t usually agree to ten years time and $143 billion restitution.)  These cases have absolutely nothing in common except for a shared sense of entitlement.  They should not be compared at all.  That salient fact does not seem to be sinking in for me though.

Many many people’s financial security has been shattered by the Madoffs.  No one would dispute that.  For some people it was their retirement accounts that vanished, for others it was college funds.  There were not-for-profit organizations whose losses left them wondering if they would survive at all.  No doubt there were also people who suspected that investing in something pitched as private and exclusive and guaranteeing a high rate of return, sounded too good to be true, and only lost what they could afford.  But to my knowledge, no one involved in the bilking of billions actually killed anyone.

My rational, “da-dum” “no, you’re out of order” brain knows that there are no physics involved in the law.  There is no relation between what happens in one case and what happens in another (unless we’re actually talking about precedent.)  While our entire popular culture and consumer economy is based on trends, not everything else is.  Looking for patterns in justice is futile and disheartening.  However, humans are wired to understand the world through interpreting the behavior of others.  When we can’t do this, either organically (i.e., autism, brain injury) or because events are indisputably random and haphazard, we feel unease.  There is nothing to gain from looking for a universal logic or explanation for the disparity between two completely unrelated events.  However, I’m certain my brain will hurt for most of the day.

It would be easy to explain away the (perceived) disparity by claiming that money will always trump all else.  It might not even sound entirely heartless to suggest that the Madoff wrongdoings affected far more people than those of the fraternity brothers.  It would be accurate to point out that the country is captivated by the Madoffs (either in a schadenfreude way or in a celebrity way.)  It’s safe to assume that there are very well connected people who want to see the family pay for what they’ve done.  They want to see justice, and they have the power to see that is happens.

One could choose to see it that way I suppose.

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Posted by on June 28, 2012 in Cultural Critique


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