Image (c) Goscinni and Uderzo. Read the originals online.
Pictured above is my childhood introduction to ‘crazy’. It wasn’t so much of a slur or a bad word, in the 70’s. For me, it wasn’t anything dangerous either. I got introduced to the concept of the “Dangerous Because Mentally Unstable” person at a much later date. Much, much, later date.
Frankly, it’s a trope I could do without. Primarily because I, too, am mentally disabled. Yes, folks, if you read my diary entries over at my hub site, you’ll see I’ve battled with depression, anxiety, and the continuing patchwork of comorbs associated with ASD. This does not, incidentally, give me a licence to use bad words. Only to prove that mental disabilities do not always equal dangerous to self and others.
Statistically speaking, a mentally disabled person is more likely to be attacked or harmed by a sane person than the other way around. For the most part, people fighting with their own noggins need some help, maybe some medication, and the understanding of others to get along with society.
When I was creating my pet universe, I was pondering on the Fermi Paradox. If life is likely in the furthest reaches of space, why haven’t any of them come over to say ‘hello’? Some answers, like we’re a dangerously warlike race, didn’t sit well with me. My answer, which fit everything I saw on the news at the time [rough decade estimate: 1980’s-1990’s] was that we may be being observed by intelligences far greater than our own… and those intelligences figured that we, as a species, were about 90% or more bonkers.
As a diagnosis, it really fits. Humanity has known for most of the 20th century that burning fossil fuels would have a disastrous, long-term effect on the global environment. Instead of recognising the problem and throwing money into clean alternatives… Humanity went for the biggest profit and damn the long-term consequences. Hell, we had a decades-long fight to eliminate lead from fuel and to put seat-belts in cars. We are just that self-destructive.
Also, there’s that whole thing about spending my entire childhood under the threat of nuclear war… Mad Magazine had a “funny” article about simulating strikes to see if the nonexistent ‘Star Wars’ defence would even work. I saw a movie in which the end of the world played again and again on screens like a strobe light. I read post-apocalyptic sci-fi because that’s all there was.
So my conclusion was rational, then. Humanity is off the rails. Gonzo. Its belfry is infested with bats. Nuttier than a fruitcake. Madder than a March hare, or an entire hatter convention.
This does not mean that that’s a bad thing, per se.
We have an unfortunate stereotype in modern society, and that is… Insanity Is Dangerous. People are taught to fear the mentally disabled, be they harmlessly erratic or off-the-wall raving. There’s no sympathy for suffering there, just fear. That’s the bad part.
I would like, very much indeed, to dial back that stereotrope. Maybe bring back the idea that most mentally disabled folk aren’t that bad. It’s not too big a thing to want, right? For the most part, lots of us just need a little more help coping with things.
Now, I’ll freely admit that I might have made a mistake, erring on the side of caution, when I decided to use the more clinical ‘insane’ as a Human designation rather than the more problematic ‘crazy’. If I find a better single word, then I’ll gleesomely swap to using that. Suggestions welcome. Please bother me. I do want a kinder, gentler universe that just happens to contain a species that tends to laugh when they blow things up.
I want to paint Humanity as the kinder, gentler shade of ‘insane’. The sort of insanity that needs a little help in certain areas. Some of us might need flashcard reminders or, as a personal want, a HUD that tells them when they’re being unacceptably loud. Where anxiety is treated by friends and community making sure the anxious know they’re safe. Where the depressed are given reasons to keep fighting those morbs. Where the lost are found and given guidance.
To be quite honest, I wish I got more prompts that lead to stories about that. My greater public -those who feed me prompts- like seeing the Space Orc side of Humanity, where the gung-ho or the vicious or the plain old vengeful can act out someone’s power fantasies and leave a big crater.
They like reading about Pax Humanis, where Humans keep the dangerously psychopathic carefully contained until they’re needed.
They don’t like to see -say- Julie and her assistant/carer Augmented dog, Nanny. Or any of the other potential multitudes who just need that little bit of help in order to get through another day. I don’t get those prompts, so I can’t really write that aspect of my Universe in.
I really should try harder though.
I started my Instants with a desire to practice my pet universe, and sundry writing skills, whilst challenging myself to create some regular output. I made my universe happen by forcing the issue, using every damn chance I had to expand and expound on its creation.
I can do that again.
I can force the issue again. Fight to include the help and the community and the not-that-dangerous-actually angle. Where the ‘insanity’ of the human race is not necessarily something to be afraid of. Just something that needs a good system of work-arounds.
Looking at the news, looking at what’s going on in the world, I’m sure you can agree that humanity is nuts. The point I’m trying to make is that that nutty quality doesn’t have to mean ‘evil’. We can do good things with nuts.
It’s nuts to decide to build a robot that can scoop up all the plastic in the ocean. It’s nuts to try and crowd-fund fleets of them. It’s nuts to plant a belt of trees across Africa to halt the spread of the Sahara. It’s nuts to plant twenty million trees by the end of Twenty Twenty in an effort to halt, prevent, or otherwise slow climate change.
It’s nuts to continue to fight for freedom of speech, against totalitarian law, against oligarchical dictators when the love of money has clearly won out in the greater political scene… but we still do all of these things.
It was nuts to fly to the moon in a small tin can, strapped to giant explosives, with an untested engine to get back and a computer with half the functionality of today’s calculators. We did it anyway.
We did these things, and we continue to do these things, because we think they’re worthwhile. They’re hard, and they’re heartbreaking, and they strain every brain worthy of thinking to find a solution… but we do them anyway.
Because we are, collectively, nuts.
And that’s not bad.