Archive for April, 2008

In the face of the plethora of news stories that pass at light-speed before our eyes in the modern news medias, once in a while there are those which momentarily take our breath. One in question is the story of the Austrian father who had built a living space in the cellar of his house where he imprisoned his daughter for 24 years regularly raping her, leading her to give birth to seven children (one of which died). I will not go into details of what happened, these details can be found in the linked article. What I am concerned about is the things which make it hard to find or detect the monsters that live among us, or perhaps are there things that are accepted by the wider community which make it easier for the monsters to hide?

From the linked article in relation to the above story – “How is it possible that no one has ever heard or seen anything?” Der Standard newspaper on Monday asked of events in the town of Amstetten, outside Vienna.
“What does it say about the neighbors, relatives, family and friends, but also those who had to deal officially with the family? How could he have been successful keeping people fooled?”

Are there things that stop us from seeing, or gaining awareness of, something out of the ordinary (perhaps not sinister), or something that may not ‘add up’ with those around us in our communities? Have people within communities become so disengaged, one from the other, that we do not want to see what may be over the fence; or (in small towns) do we believe that we know some people well enough that assumptions may hide our vision from something that is consciously hidden? Could what is accepted through social custom, be part of the facade created by those with something to hide? In that, did the people living around this man’s family home see something that matched their concept of an acceptable arrangement (married heterosexual couple with kids), and beyond that, they did not want to see anything different; and having that box of acceptability ticked, they readily accepted stories of his daughter in a sect giving away her children to her “devoted grandfather doing his best to look after his abandoned grandchildren“? Blind by social custom.

I am not attacking marriage per-se, but looking at the social meanings and possible social privileges that may be placed on married couples that may be used (i.e. in this instance) to mask what was happening behind closed doors; and herein lies another dilemma, personal privacy versus public and or personal safety. This dilemma is too broad an issue to cover here, the voyeuristic wish to see what happens behind closed doors tempered by the need for people to live without the constant gaze of a Big-Brother figure.

What are the things that stop us from noticing or questioning things which may not ‘add up’? Do these things include the most mundane and socially accepted concepts like marriage, family and what that may mean?

What can we do to find the monsters among us?

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Sounds. Sound is nothing more than vibrations in air between a range of frequencies. It of itself does not possesses, nor experiences emotion, yet the phenomena of sound can give rise to feelings within people. The annoying, yet relaxing shrill buzz of a Cricket, signaling the end of summer on a warm evening… or the lonely sound of a high wind rattling a gate, buffeting an awning, with the rattle of rain on a tin roof in the darkness of an autumn night.

Is it ones imagination, is it ones heart, is it the human condition, or is it a strength or failing of the human mind which lets such a mundane natural phenomenon such as sound move ones mood as involuntarily as a reflex action, as breathing, or as a heartbeat.

The Crickets are gone, there is no wind and no rain, but the darkness of night is closing in… Is this enwrapment of darkness a benign cloak, or portents of something my imagination will taunt me with.

Five cents can not buy much anymore, but five senses enrich us, or can cost us more than we know.

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