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Qualities That Keep You in a Sick System

The attention the sick systems post is getting is, ah, rather overwhelming. I'm so, so happy that y'all have found it useful in what clarifying what happened to you. I'm sad and astonished that so many people had the same experiences. When I wrote it I was thinking of a few extreme situations I've found myself in or watched friends flounder through, so I considered sick systems rare and deeply pathological. What y'all are saying, both here and in conversations around the net, is that almost everyone has gotten stuck in a sick system at some point in their lives, and that they're an inground part of life in some slices of the world.

Something is wrong.

This is where I'm supposed to follow up with What to Do to Fix the World, but the answer is: nothing. You can't fix a sick system from within unless you have power, and you can't fix a sick system from outside, period. You can't compel people to leave. You can convince them to leave, but the moment that convinces them is individual, like enlightenment striking a monk because his master made a joke about a spade. And when a stuck person chooses to leave, it will be long, long, long after they should have gotten out.

So instead I offer you a list:

Qualities That Keep You in a Sick System

A strong work ethic
A need to be useful to others

You don't need to lose these qualities to get out. But if you're stuck and trying to figure out what's keeping you in, remember that people rarely get stuck because of their vices. They're usually caught by their virtues.


Jun. 16th, 2010 01:28 pm (UTC)
Absolutely. Breaking family loyalty and refusing self-sacrifice was how I got out of my parents' system. I stayed longer than I should have to help the people left behind, but then I realized that they were adults, they had power, and they made a choice not to use it to free themselves. So screw 'em.

I wish they'd escape. But if they had escape in them, they'd be long gone.

Disappointing and pissing off toxic people isn't a flaw, it's a necessity. As is occasionally ending the world. It's good to remind ourselves that there's the world we build up out of other people, and then there's the real world, and these two things are not the same.

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