Emotions, State Intervention, and Cultural Differences

An excerpt from “Humbling and Humility,” and related scientific research on emotions:

My intake counselor was personable enough. He asked me to describe the series of events which led me to this private establishment that employed him. Uncomfortable over answering the questionnaire, I described events as briefly as I could––a domestic argument with my spouse that became somewhat physical––and asked him instead why anger is something the state appears to require suppression of, while not providing any remedies for circumstances that lead to anger. Sid––the counselor––pointed out that anger leads to violence, and that then becomes a matter for the state.

Don’t get mad, get even––isn’t this a common saying here in the west?” I asked. “What do you think will happen, in crowded nations like India, if everyone worked to get even instead of getting mad and venting out anger?”

There would be chaos,” replied Sid, giving me a curious look. “But conditions here are different. We have courts to help us resolve disagreements.”

What is the membership of the group I am to join?”

He figured out my oblique question. “All male. Women have separate counseling groups.”

What about root causes for such domestic disagreements?” I dug deeper into what he helped with. “How do you address free mingling of sexes in the typical workplace, and resulting infidelity?”

Sid spoke with bluntness that caught me unawares: “You are a root cause. These sessions are to address what you can do to change.”

The state requires a license to begin a family, but does not prosecute infidelity that often destroys a family,” I persisted. “Is this of no concern to the state at all?”

Some states do that…” he said, with some hesitation.

That was a revelation to me. So the law varied, state by state? How did this come about? I knew that taxes varied, but the law? How are people across the nation equal, if laws do not apply uniformly? Clearly, something new to learn.

Isn’t it futile to beat on me, a victim?” I asked, continuing my unrelenting drive to question the state’s processes. “One who, despite obvious harm caused by a partner’s infidelity, is trying to bring about a good end result? Is this process just to satisfy the state?”

It is ninety percent that. You finish the course, and go beat the snot out of your partner––the state can say that they made you go through the course, at least! Cover their behind, in other words.”

Sid seemed in a hurry to finish with me. He explained that he had another appointment to prepare for, a group to counsel. He asked me to meet his colleague, Dave, for an initial orientation, after which I could choose my counseling group and sessions. I sensed that he wasn’t altogether comfortable with having me in his group.



About Rian Nejar

Rian Nejar is an Indian-American author. He trained and worked as an engineer in India, lived briefly in the Middle East, and arrived in America in the early 90's. After a Master’s degree in electrical engineering in America, he worked as an academic instructor, engineer, entrepreneur, and technical writer over the two decades since. Humbling and Humility (http://goo.gl/FKUnCM) is his first mainstream nonfiction. He lives and writes in the Southwest United States.
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