In season 3, episode 3 of the brilliant PBS series Sherlock Holmes, actor Benedict Cumberbatch reminds viewers “I am not a hero, I am a high-functioning sociopath.”
Psychiatrist Orville Matthews says: “A sociopath is someone who exhibits an antisocial personality disorder, along with antisocial behaviours, little understanding of social norms, and lack of conscience. A “high functioning sociopath” is someone with identical traits, however tends to be more intelligent, and better at integrating with society. Their disorders are harder to notice and diagnose. They can pretend they care about other people and they can commonly evince less antisocial behaviors at will.”
In a September 10, 2011 article in the Daily Koz , author Ray Pensador defines high-functioning psychopath as “characterized primarily by a lack of empathy and remorse, shallow emotions, egocentricity and deceptiveness. And because of it, they tend to rule the world. They rise to the highest levels of power in politics, and business.”
In contrast there are the “normal people,” like you and me. Pensador goes on: “In politics, I observe how this phenomena works so perfectly, both on the left and the right. On the right the useful idiots (the normal people) are the end-of-days religious fundamentalists, and the nativists, and the racists, and the nationalists. All acting out of their true beliefs and emotions, and being manipulated by the sociopathic ruling class… On the left, they are those who earnestly go about trying to respond to every absurdity coming out of the loony right-wing. Refuting every stupid and absurd comment with facts, and studies, and statistics. And basking in the glory of being right about the issues, about the science, about the empirical evidence. All done in a mainly ineffective and powerless echo chamber. But ultimately, also being manipulated by the same sociopathic ruling class.”
Was Pensador prescient and writing about us now in 2017? About the current ruling class in Washington DC and normal folks both on the right and the left?
Unfortunately, The United States and the world is not just caught up in a fascinating fiction like Sherlock, but is experiencing a new, alarming, dangerous and destructive reality since January 2oth!
Rarely do we now hear elected Republicans criticize the executive actions, policies, nominees and tactics of the same candidate many reviled in Fall 2016. They are now voting lock-step in support of their man rather than insisting that the President not continue to violate the U.S. Constitution with conflicts of interest and other matters. Even most Democrats are not voting “no” for cabinet nominees, even though Republicans hold 52 seats for a simple majority to be confirmed. See the New York Times scorecard of how each Senator has voted on the President’s cabinet nominees. Standing up to the President is likely to raise his ire or you’ll hear “You’re fired!” (if you are in an appointee position) and this requires heros with great courage.
Sherlock Holmes co-creators Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat explain in the Guardian why we’ll see a kinder Holmes in season 4: “I think we have to start saying what being a hero constitutes. In the new series, Cumberbatch’s detective is less of the irritatingly smug know-it-all we saw in earlier episodes.”
Moffat elaborates: “Being a hero isn’t being bigger, richer, more powerful than somebody else. It’s being wiser and kinder… the idea of a wiser, kinder hero who provides order to the chaos, is worth hanging on to right now.”
Robert Reich is one of my heroes. Maybe you are too.
We must be kind and wise. We all (Republicans, Democrats and Independents) also need to be tough and loud and to make a ruckus. Now.