Steve A. Stone
Dear Friends and Patriots,
I live in a house of pain. You do too, though you might not be aware of it. Everyone’s house is a bit different.
Over two decades ago, I began to learn about real pain. I have experienced it to varying degrees over the years that elapsed since I injured my back in 1975. I did something a bit dumb one day in that year. It was my fault. I knew better, but my common sense wasn’t as strong as I thought my back was. There were some serious flare-ups that lasted for months on end that were caused and exacerbated by aspects of my job, mostly sitting down for 12 to 16 hours every day. I tolerated all that pain by ignoring it. As long as my mind was actively engaged by concentrating on tasks or making plans for other tasks, I could cope well. The pain was real to me only when I was forced to be in the moment—the here and now of my own life.
If you understand what I’m describing, you may grasp why my personal life was too often not very fulfilling. Avoiding the here and now was my opiate. It negated the very real pain I was in, but it also caused me to be unresponsive in many parts of my life that only work right when one’s mind is fully present. I spent years with my body in one reality and my mind in another.
In 1994, I came to realize if I kept the job I had I wouldn’t last much longer. Even unconscious pain takes its toll. I transferred to a job in a place all my peers considered a career desert, a no-man’s land. It was the best thing I ever did. I jumped off the fast track and learned how to live a different way. I learned how to heal, and I learned how to live more in my own present. I still had bad periods, but they were tolerable and relatively few.
About 22 years ago, it was Irene’s turn, and I began my graduate studies in the field of pain. Irene was my wife. Her health began to break when she was just 49. Her problems were the result of a trifecta of bad life habits, self-induced stress, and genetic issues. Both her parents died in their mid-60s. Irene came to believe longevity was just not going to be a reality for her. She had adopted something of a self-punishing life style years before we met. When her first health crisis came, her doctors predicted she wouldn’t live more than five years. She had advanced atherosclerosis. She also had great doctors. They proved themselves wrong. The Marquis de Sade would have loved some of the procedures Irene went through. They were the diabolically designed tortures that kept her alive.
About eight years ago, Irene began to have constant headaches and blurred vision. She was five minutes away from yet another medical procedure when she had the first of two grand mal seizures. Her doctor immediately suspected a brain tumor, and I was in the waiting area of the hospital where he was briefing me when she had her second. He was right. She subsequently had brain surgery and radiation treatments. In her last five years, she lived in one room of the house—her own private torture chamber. Her doctors kept her supplied with pain medication, which did little to alleviate her constant suffering. In her last two years, she was rarely able to leave that room for more than a couple of hours a day. Irene lived for over 20 years in her house of pain. I was there for all of it. Any personal pains I may have endured during that time were inconsequential; I was watching, listening, and learning.
Irene died on 2 December, 2020. I was there, holding her hand. That was the day her pain ended and mine began. I’ve taken her place in this house of pain.
Chronic pain can be ignored to an extent, but there are times when it builds up and refuses to take a back seat to anything. It wants undivided attention. It demands it. It tries to take over your life and becomes a constant companion; along for the ride no matter what you’re doing. Yes, it’s my house of pain now. I have to live in it the best way I know how. Today, I can cope. I don’t know about tomorrow, so I try to do everything I want to do now—while I still can. The day is coming when I’ll have to make some serious life compromises. I hope it’s not too soon. Now is not the time in history for me to be compromised. But I understand I don’t control the timeline of my own degeneration.
You should be asking, “Why is he telling us this? What’s really going on here?” If you haven’t figured me out by now, maybe you just need me to be a bit more explicit.
For the past three weeks, I’ve been making corrections to my second book, TRENCH WARFARE. There’s a section in that book entitled “Are You Being Nudged?” It’s an examination of Thaler and Sunstein’s “Nudge Theory,” and how the Obama administration used it to push us into accepting some of their more deviously contrived policies. I’ve completed correcting the book, but that one thing is stuck in my mind—nudge. I’ve known for years that forces in the world were systematically nudging us in directions we might not otherwise go, but only in the past few days have I begun to have a specifically focused awareness. It finally dawned on me that those forces have nudged us all into our own psychological houses of pain.
I want you all to think of what we’ve gone through in the past few decades; all the angst and turmoil. The world seems all upside-down, doesn’t it? Things just aren’t right. We’re surrounded by visions and sounds of pain. The media projects it at us on a 24-7 basis, thanks to the innovation of continuous “news” channels that we tend to get addicted to. The late-night comedians have turned ideological and unfunny. Saturday Night Live is no longer funny. Nothing seems funny. In truth, the PC culture we’ve all been nudged into has decimated the entire realm of humor. Everything is now serious. Visions of war and killing are before us at all times, even though our own military isn’t engaged. We hear of and see signs that indicate our economy is on the verge of collapse. Thanks to newer and emerging technologies we have to endure almost complete loss of privacy—something we will never get back. The cost of living is escalating rapidly. Violent crime has risen dramatically, and shows no sign of abating. Thoughts of dangerous diseases occupy our minds and intrude into the way we live our daily lives. Political polarization has divided families and communities. We hear of our futures—futures that include transhumanism, more and more vaccines, all-digital currencies, the demise of petroleum-fueled vehicles, the “Great Reset.” Every aspect of the lives we think of as “normal” is changing, and not for the better. The only way anyone escapes the extreme pain of today is to drop out—to live in a way that’s oblivious to everything being pushed at us. Few can do that.
Each one of the preceding statements is worthy of book-length examination, but I’m constrained to a listing. Think, though, what happened to Norman Rockwell’s America? Where did the June Cleaver, Margaret Anderson, and Donna Stone mother stereotypes go? Where did Jim Anderson, Alex Stone, Ward Cleaver, and Steve Douglas, the perfect dad stereotypes, disappear to? What happened to us? Did we just “get real” as we’re told, or were those admitted stereotypes just pushed away from us so we had to accept new stereotypes that were more negative. Were we purposefully given hugely flawed TV and movie parents so we would all feel better about our less-than-perfect lives, or were we being nudged toward a different consciousness? Were we being systematically reconditioned so we’d eventually accept the notion that adolescent and unwed mothers on welfare isn’t out of the ordinary; that divorce is just a natural result of marriage; that broken homes are normal; that drug addiction is just a part of life that has to be dealt with; that losing a child to street violence is something every parent should expect; that bankruptcy is something every modern adult will face at one time or another; that abortion is only a demonstration of personal autonomy? Were we also being reconditioned to think of our neighbors as strangers, or even threats; to think of the police as enemies and badge-wearing criminals; to believe that all politicians are greedy crooks; and the people who go to church or own guns are all tomorrow’s domestic terrorists? What has America become?
I contend we’ve been nudged into a national house of pain. I contend there’s a world house of pain out there, too. We’ve been subjects of a massive, long-term program of reconditioning, reprogramming us from Americans who always believed we’d eventually complete the journey from just desiring “… a more perfect Union…” to achieving something very much closer to perfection. Instead, we’ve been derailed, diverted, and misled. We are now all living in our house of pain—the entire country. We no longer know how to believe in ourselves, our neighbors, and even our own history. We live surrounded by a sea of doubt and despair. We are in the exact place we’ve been nudged to. The rest of the world is either already there, or not far behind.
Do you understand why Europe is so dependent on foreign sources of energy? Do you understand it’s no different than the reason we suffer from high gasoline prices and future escalations in gas and electric energy costs? Yes, the reasons are exactly the same. It’s all due to governmental policies. Europe was once littered with nuclear power plants. Unlike our own nuclear plants, theirs were rubber-stamped designs, intended to be relatively cheap and very cost-effective. The only country that still has almost all their nuclear plants is France. They’re all shut down in Germany and few remain in the other European countries. Why? Because of government policy. The Europeans yielded to the decades-long propaganda campaigns of their Green Party factions, even though everyone understood the “greenies” were all ideological communists who were using environmentalism as a cudgel, constantly beating them over their heads. They finally sued for peace. The price of that peace? They dismantled their primary sources of clean energy. They de-nuked and willingly became energy clients of Russia. How do you think that worked out for them? How do you think our own energy policies are going to work out for us? We’re all in the same sea of doubt and despair—sailing toward the same destination. We are systematically impoverishing ourselves through governmental policies that are designed to do just that.
Take that one example, energy, and expand it to encompass every aspect of our lives. Realize that the story of energy is but one of a plethora of aspects of our lives that have been nudged to a point of dissolution.
What is at the core of all this? Why are we allowing ourselves to be led to our own demise? Why have we willingly accepted all the nudges that have been part of our lives for the past 60 years? The answer lies in our psychology. Humans are all alike in the way we think about our own lives. We all avoid pain. Nudging is all about pushing us in directions we might not otherwise go by presenting us with just the right amount of pain. We react by going in the desired direction, just like animals when tapped with a prod. The trick is to make sure we experience just the level of pain it takes to react in the desired way, but no more. Too much pain might make us aware. The diversions provided for us in the way of banal entertainment, music, sports, and the encouragement of gratuitous sex might not be enough to keep our minds off the truth that we’re enduring pain. No, nudging only works when the pain is applied just right—not too much; not too little. But, it also has to be done continuously so the subjects (that’s US) become used to it.
We’ve become so used to pain we no longer remember when our lives were any different. We now expect tomorrow to bring us more bad news. Nothing shocks us anymore. We hear of a mass school shooting in Texas, and we react by exclaiming, “Gee, that’s really bad. I hate to hear of it. Anyone want to go grab a beer?” You know what I mean. We’ve become inured. Our reactions now are exactly what they’ve been nudged to be. The only thing that can truly shock us now is to be in the middle of a real disaster. Otherwise, it’s an abstract horror we consider “bad news” and little more. There was a time when the entire nation would have stopped in place and contemplated every aspect of such a tragedy for weeks, until we could deal with and absorb the real horror of the event. But, today we don’t do that. Today, we follow the news cycle. When the next “big event” comes along, which will be in a matter of days, we will move on, bleating after the next story that’s fed to us. What we won’t do is to collectively ask, “What have we become?”
What have we become? The answer is right in front of us, for any willing individual to see and comprehend. We have become exactly what our governments have intended us to be. We have become sheep. We are poised now, standing in great herds in front of the government slaughter houses—the ultimate houses of pain. There are questions that remain to be answered.
What will we do when those doors open? Will we willingly enter the slaughterhouse, or will we remember who and what we once were and refuse to submit? Are we still strong enough to reject the house of pain and live as free people once again? If I am correct, our time to answer those questions is pitifully short.
I hope this helps.
Steve© Steve A. Stone
The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.