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Follow-up to a response to "Developmental stages of expunged fathers"


[The message to which the commentary on this page is a response]

Jim [not his real name],

Fathers for Life receives presently about a thousand messages a year from people (many of them by women, although in the vast majority by men or relating to men who need help) who write for advice and direction via the e-mail contact form at the website of Fathers for Life.  I am talking about men and their wives (first and second wives), and about mothers and fathers, from all walks of life in the English-speaking world: executives; researchers; business men; students, lecturers, skilled tradesmen, workers of all sorts, invalids (physically as well as mentally), retirees, clerks, bureaucrats, people who can express themselves well with impeccable English, people who know little and next to nothing other than their pain and can't spell, punctuate, capitalize or form comprehensible sentences, put periods at the end of sentences let alone make paragraph breaks.

Very few of those people are as unwilling to face themselves and their shortcomings as you are.  Still, even in that you are not unique.  A few men have become as angry and as blinded by their anger as you are.

One thing they all have in common is that they all are at different stages of their personal development and that their development progresses along a common pattern, the pattern that I described in "Developmental stages of expunged fathers."  Not all of them complete their development.

Some, like you (and like I once was), are at the very beginning of their developmental journey.  Others see the light at the end of the tunnel, and others have come out of the tunnel.  The latter find themselves in a world that is vastly different than anything they expected when they began their journey into the unknown, but they find that they can live in it and adjust to it.  Many can even be happy, satisfied or comfortable in the world they find themselves in many years after their developmental journey began.  Some find happiness in the journey itself, although not very likely until the last stages, when they begin to see glimpses of what may be ahead of them and of the new possibilities the entirely new and unexpected life will have for them.

"Bill" is a composite of my own personal experiences over the past 35 years -- ever since the time when the breakup of my family began in earnest; of the experiences of a good number of other activists who wrote about their observations regarding the developmental stages of expunged fathers (some of those I read as far back as 20 and more years ago), and of the experiences of many men in circumstances similar to yours (or mine, when I many years ago was in financial and emotional circumstances that were very similar to yours now).  By the way, I explained much of that to you before, but you still insist on deliberately insulting me by calling me someone who lives on the fringes.

Your anger is so doggedly self-centered that you absolutely cannot accept that the loss of my family and wealth was as painful to me then as the loss of yours is to you now.

I wrote once before to you about the difficulties you have on account of your inability to objectively compare your situation to that of others, about the worm's eye view you take of the world.  You are no exception, nothing special.  It is normal for men at your stage of your journey to be like you are, to feel as you do.  You can choose to believe me or not, but I went through that, more than 30 years ago (and I even that I told you before).  That stage lasted with me about five years.

Then I began to see the first glimpse of the light at the end of the tunnel.  Being somewhat of a realist, I also knew how long and hard it would be to come to the end of the tunnel; and my subsequent experiences proved my estimate to be right.

There were milestones along the road, long before I knew enough to determine how much longer I had to travel to come out of the tunnel.  The most important one of those was when I realized how much my emotional state distorted my perceptions about my circumstances.  I passed that milestone when I had read "The lynching of Orin Newfield," (by Gerald Jay Goldberg) for the second time.

The book is about a man whose wife left him, who felt that he was a victim of circumstances, that he was misunderstood and that the people in his community were out to get him, to the point that he committed suicide while firmly believing that he was being lynched.

The first time I read that book I saw myself in its main character.  I understood the book from his perspective, which was much the same as yours is right now.  The second time I read the book was the real eye-opener, a few years later.  Then I took a different view.  I looked at Orin's circumstances from the viewpoint of an objective observer.  Orin's problems were not entirely of his own making but mainly came about because he felt himself to be a victim.  His self-imposed victim status drove him to a self-destructive end.

When I understood that, I knew that I was beginning to heal.  At that time I also knew full well that I no longer felt to be a victim but that I looked at Orin's and my own circumstances with that new insight due to having become enabled to take charge of my life instead of letting self-pity forcing me to drift.

Don't get me wrong.  It was not the reading of the book a second time that made me change my life, but that having changed my outlook on life made me understand the book and what drove Orin to take the ultimate self-destructive action by killing himself.

Jim, I know that it is not possible for you to understand what I am getting at.  Your self-centered view and anger prevent you from being objective.  Even though you admit that you are angry, you are not willing to admit that your anger is the greatest handicap you face.  Moreover, you are critical of me for daring to point out that your anger handicaps you.  You insist that you have a right to be angry, that your anger is rightfully yours, and that you rightfully are entitled to self-destruct on account of the anger that you deem to be your birth right, entitling you to wallow in it.

Many years ago, long before the breakup of my marriage and family, a good friend taught me how to become more objective.  He was someone with a serious spinal deformation that gave him great pain, but that did not prevent him from being one of the most productive, most effective and pleasant people I ever had the pleasure of working with.  That was because he accepted his condition, ignored it and did the best he could with his life. When I told him about my depression, he gave me the advice to use a simple device to assess my personal assets and liabilities.

All that takes is to draw a vertical line down the middle of a sheet of paper.  Write down in the left-hand column all of the assets you possess -- material, spiritual and emotional assets, friends, skills, health, and so on... including your justified expectations.  Those are the things that make life enjoyable.  In the other column you write down all of the problems that bother you... including all of the justified expectations in that column, too.  Those are the things that drag you down.

Do that very critically.  Try to be objective, although that is a very difficult thing to do in such a self-examination.  You have a great asset right in front of you, your PC.  Not only does your PC permit you to easily sort your assets and liabilities by rank, but it permits you to find and stay in touch with many friends the world over.  Your PC is therefore a far greater asset than an 8.5" x 11" sheet of paper can be.  You have in your PC an asset that was more than 30 years ago not available to normal mortals.

Don't worry if the list of liabilities is longer than the list of your assets.  Both lists are products of your perceptions, regardless of the fact that your perceptions don't permit you to accept that your perceptions are biased.  Perceptions change, or should change, unless you are stuck in a rut.

When you do the same sort of assessment a while, say three months, later, you will be able to determine some of the extent to which your personal bias in viewing your world changes over time.  When you reach that point you can then put a finger on things.  The change in your bias over a three-month period will permit you to estimate the full extent of your bias.  You are beginning to heal when you can do that.  One of the consequences of the healing process will be that the list of assets becomes longer over time, and that the list of liabilities will become, if not shorter, at least diminished in importance.

That is when you can begin to make plans for improvements that have a chance of succeeding, instead of doing little more than lashing out with futility.

We all are biased to varying extents.  Your perception of my bias is that my bias prevents me from understanding why you are forced to do what you do.  I told you once before that effective communication between us appears to be hampered by a generation gap.

I am 70 years old and made throughout all of my life an effort to understand the world and society in which we live.  Most of all, I made an effort to understand the evolution of civilization and why history repeats itself.  I see patterns now that even 30 years ago I could not dream of recognizing.

You need to give me some credit for the fact that I have learned something throughout my relatively long life and also for that I am still learning.  Perhaps you are smarter about the nature of humans than I am.  Perhaps you acquired more wisdom in your shorter lifespan than I did during my considerably longer one.

Help you and me to assess and understand the level of your bias.   The "Developmental stages of expunged fathers" contains a few links to web pages as well as a reference to a book.  Did you read all of the reference material before you wrote back to me?  What of the reference material did you read?

Whatever you have or have not read of those references, read all of them and then write back to me.

Before you write back to me, take to heart the advice I had offered in the last paragraph of "Developmental stages of expunged fathers".

Welfare begins at home, with individuals who love and care about others but first of all [care] for themselves, so that they can do what they should and must do for others.  It is far better to ensure that one can give than to expect to receive [and to be limited by what one will receive through self-imposed constraints].

In the new universe of moral relativism that the liberal social engineers created for us it has become acceptable to far too many that self-centered opinions are more valid than the truth, provided they are politically correct.  It is not only women who became acolytes of the teachings that made moral relativism our state-religion.  Fortunately, the vast majority of people is at heart conservative.  Those people still believe in absolute truth and not so much in the effectiveness of self-serving rationalization aimed at abrogating the truth.

In the old and allegedly outmoded absolute moral universe the truth or any refinement of an accepted truth trumped any previously held beliefs.  Then we did not yet rule by consensus, because the truth was held to be absolute and unalterable only subject to further refinements.  A single truth (e. g.: The Earth revolves around the Sun. Galileo) trumped the popular consensus that viciously clung to the superstition that the Earth is the centre of the universe (see also: The Copernican Myths), even though that superstition replaced valid mathematical proof that had existed for more than a thousand years before that the Earth does revolve around the Sun.

The world, or our society, does not revolve around you.  Society will change whether you are in the way or not.  It is up to you whether you will become an effective activist who can influence our society or whether you will be a self-declared martyr whom our society will crush.

Resistance fighters did not influence or come even close to controlling the outcome of the war you referred to; well-planned strategy and the superior power of the Allied Forces did.  Resistance fighters were comparable to mosquitoes, except that they were not as all-pervasive as mosquitoes.  Still, they were just as easily squashed.

A few great powers with no allegiance to God, home and country reaped great profits from that war and from the cannon fodder wasted on all sides of it.  It is no coincidence that the very same powers now also fund the war against the family, and that today, just as there was then, there is an army of camp followers that grows rich by reaping what can be reaped from the war against the family, too.

Ask yourself what you wish to be, a mosquito-like nuisance or a strategist in control of influencing the future of our society?


Sincerely,

Walter
http://fathersforlife.org

Note: "Jim" wrote back almost instantaneously, commenting exclusively on my concern that he may have tried to insult me by implying that I live on the fringe and therefore am not able to understand his circumstances.  He commented on nothing else I had stated in the reply to him that is quoted above.

It seems hardly possible that "Jim" read my whole response, most certainly not that he read it carefully.  It is most definitely not possible that he read any of the information at all that I pointed him to.  It is obvious that "Jim" falls into the category of people who have their minds so firmly made up that not only will they refuse to be confused by facts, but they adamantly refuse to even look at facts that may cause them to examine their self-image or self-imposed victim status.

Anger is truly a force that blinds.

Epilog

If I had known about it then, I would have included in my response to "Jim's" reaction to "Developmental stages of expunged Fathers" the following observation attributed to Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen.  It is an observation that applies to individuals as well as to whole civilizations, an observation that pertains to the self-knowledge of an individual as well as to the collective consciousness of peoples.

It is a characteristic of any decaying civilization that the great masses of the people are unaware of the tragedy. Humanity in a crisis is generally insensitive to the gravity of the times in which it lives. Men do not want to believe their own times are wicked, partly because they have no standard outside of themselves by which to measure their times. If there is no fixed concept of justice, how shall men know it is violated? Only those who live by faith really know what is happening in the world; the great masses without faith are unconscious of the destructive processes going on, because they have lost the vision of the heights from which they have fallen.

A man who is mired in anger caused by the pain of his suffering in the bottom of the pit that he continues to dig deeper and deeper cannot see the heights he could reach if he were to stop digging.

____________________

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__________________
Posted 2006 04 18
Updates:
2006 05 06 (added epilog)