What is torture?

Thinking about torture we picture excruciating bodily harm. And will the person being tortured even survive?

Two elements stand out besides the obvious. The person being tortured feels helpless and is wracked with uncertainty.

I heard an expert opinion that relates these feelings to feelings of torture that don’t involve bodily harm. These are feelings that anyone of us can feel.

It’s the morning after the national elections, and I’m uncertain who will be the next president of the United States. Obviously, I’m helpless. I did my part by voting, and there’s nothing more that I can do.

Prayer is uncalled for. The Almighty doesn’t change ballots through a miracle. His world doesn’t work that way. The only thing that I can pray for is that judges respect the will of the majority of the voters if there is litigation.

Note my wording. Will of the voters. Will of the people doesn’t enter into this. All outcomes depend on who votes and how they vote and where they live. Someone who didn’t vote can’t complain.

So as I write this on the day after election day, I feel legitimately tortured. I’m helpless and uncertain. I know that certainty will come but not officially until the Electoral College votes. And, as I’ve explained, I’m helpless.

Well, not entirely helpless. I have control of my mind. I can distract my mind from the elections. Que será será. What will be will be. This too shall pass. I will make the best of it. I will survive.

Many people have survived physical torture. With the proper efforts some have thrived. It takes training and discipline. Sometimes things get even worse before they get better though. Mental torture can be no less.

In fact, I’m less helpless than I may feel. I can thrive, not just survive. It’s up to me to develop a strategy to survive uncertainty and to implement this strategy.

It’s not for us to fathom the Divine will. This too is for the best.

The story of our lives

We see ourselves as cast in an epic quest. We feel as if we’re the hero of the steadily unfolding plot of our lives; one that’s complete with allies, villains, sudden reversals of fortune, and difficult quests for happiness and prizes. Our brains cast halos around our friends and plant horns on the heads of our enemies.

Adapted from journalist Will Storr, author of Selfie: How We Became So Self-Obsessed and What It Is Doing to Us (New York: The Overlook Press, 2018).

What Is Reality?

Reprise of The X-Files

“Do you believe what you want? Or do you believe what is true?”

Reprise of The X- Files, “Rm9sbG93ZXJz,” Episode 11.7

first aired Feb 28, 2018 (begins at minute ?)

Streaming from hulu.com

Mom said that television is a time waster. I apologize, Mom, for wasting time with TV programs.

What Is Reality?

Reprise of The X-Files

“Can we talk about the nature of reality?” Agent Fox Mulder asks. “Do you believe that thoughts have mass? That ideas such as faith and forgiveness have weight much the same way [that] this desk (knocks on desk) has weight, or any material, really? … [These are] legitimate question[s].”

Reprise of The X- Files, “Babylon,” Episode 10.5

first aired Feb 15, 2016 (begins at minute 11)

Streaming from hulu.com

Mulder’s young fellow agent, a rational materialist, answers that when she stands on a scale and thinks about ice cream, she doesn’t gain weight.

Mulder then asks about whether words have weight – “the weight to move people to go kill other people.” She answers, “Words themselves are not lethal …” [Only] “people kill people.” But “words can incite people to kill people.”

Note: Let’s not confuse the physical sciences with the social sciences and with metaphysics. Words, thoughts, faith, and forgiveness are weighty in the sense that they have importance. Notice how we borrow a word, weighty, from the physical world to describe something that comes from our minds and hearts. Similarly, “to move people.”