Thursday, August 20, 2020

The Final Solution: The Stages of Despair

There are stages of death as Elizabeth Kubler-Ross pointed out in her landmark On Death and Dying. And there are stages of cognitive development as Piaget described. Then consider the metaphysical food chain beginning with the esthetic and ethical and ending with religious according to Kierkegaard. But what about despair? Are there stages of despair culminating in inconsolability? An enormous global experiment is now being conducted in which the comorbidities of racial injustice and contagion have been driving the barometer to new heights of desperation or lows of hope. There are phyla which exist in eternal darkness such as the creatures who inhabit the Mariana Trench at a depth of over 36,000 feet. But the fact is that survival in such extremes requires a creature to not only be adjusted but thrive under conditions where they are, for example, subject to tremendous water pressure and deprived of light. That's the essence of the Darwinian equation. Some prisoners who have spent lifetimes in institutions like the notorious Angola prison in Louisiana report finding it difficult to adjust to normal life. To survive under repressive conditions, you have to confer a certain normalcy on your predicament, accepting that at least in the present this is how life is. While resistance can be a saving grace, it can also mean death, for those who literally knock their heads up against a brick wall. There may be, in fact, a fine between rebellion and surrender. Those who accept desperation as the status quo sometimes turn out to be the fittests.

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