“The philosopher who finds no meaning in the world is not concerned exclusively with a problem in pure metaphysics. He is also concerned to prove that there is no valid reason why he personally should not do as he wants to do.” Aldous Huxley

One of the astonishing things I’ve learned raising our foster daughter is that abuse often makes its victims incredibly unlovable.

Long before we took in our foster daughter I had become obsessed with the ways in which childhood abuse not only affected my character Buck Crenshaw but also his siblings. Christians are called to love the unloved — and the unlovable. Many times it turns out that the unloved and the unlovable are the same person. Of course I know Buck’s heart and all that he’s been through so as a writer I love him. Yet some readers have expressed frustration at all of his wrong turns and bad behaviors.

As a  foster parent I’m given the benefit of the doubt. Everyone in the system understands unlovable behavior — a child who eats goat shit, a child who wants to have sex with your dog, a child who struggles with murderous thoughts. As a novelist the problem lies in the fact that readers want to love the characters they read about despite their flaws. But what is a writer to do with prickly characters who shoot quills and make one bad decision after another?

People tell us that our foster daughter is a changed girl but that change continues to take place at a glacially slow pace and even with the changes we must work each day to soften our hearts enough to love her — or even like her. Just like my fictional CRENSHAW siblings, our foster daughter always finds new ways to go left, not right. She finds new ways to annoy and instigate trouble — almost on an hourly basis.

The truth about foster care and abuse: Some kids are over medicated, some never receive the mental health care they need. Some seem fine but carry burdens into adulthood marked by drive, alcohol abuse or an inability to accept love.

As the god of my fictional universe it hurts when a reader doesn’t love a character who really needs to be loved. Writing about them is like being one of those photographers who takes portraits of troubled, desperate foster kids dressed in their best smiles and outfits. Yet the troubled, desperate character still remains.

Writing about unloved and unlovable people comes with heartache and risk. Maybe no one buys the book. In real life maybe the unloved child becomes a menace to society. Maybe he kills people.

I think about the creator of the universe sending souls into the world. What happens when no one loves the unlovable?

 

How many generations does it take to rid a family of behaviors and problems of the heart that sometimes lead to acts of evil? On the other hand, can there be enough human love devoted to someone to truly set them straight?

The recent shooting in Florida, the ramming of vans into pedestrians, the flying of planes into towers, the modern slave trade that dwarfs the slavery of the past, and the simple, daily, often secret abuse of children (so many cases around the globe that they hardly ever discussed) in homes that from the outside seem quite respectable — these things — these evils are problems of the heart.

We seek easy fixes. I’ve done it myself. Gluten is what makes my foster daughter think of stabbing me in the night with kitchen knives. Alarms on her door will cure her PTSD. All meds are evil. All meds are good.

The reality is that we are under a curse. Town Hall meetings, virtue signalling, talk of burning  NRA spokespeople — these things –are just frosting on the poison cake of life.

If there is no God and there is no truth then murder and abuse have no meaning. Fatherless boys and molested girls are just play things in a culture that regards pleasure and irresponsibility as its god.  If every human feeling is just a social construct and every human desire is equal then why do we even care who lives or dies?

We are flawed. That almost sounds trite. We are murderers, deceivers, neglectful parents. We are selfish and stupid much of the time. We are driven by pride. Gunshots fly all around us and we go on with our day until one shooting is deemed more important than others. We show how deep we are by posting pictures on Instagram  or write posts like this with no answers except one that makes no sense.

LOVE THE IMPOSSIBLE ONES TO LOVE. This act is so uncommon and revolutionary that it seems ridiculous.

It’s easy in fiction writing but I have a long way to go in the real world.

“I had motives for not wanting the world to have a meaning; and consequently assumed that it had none, and was able without any difficulty to find satisfying reasons for this assumption. The philosopher who finds no meaning in the world is not concerned exclusively with a problem in pure metaphysics. He is also concerned to prove that there is no valid reason why he personally should not do as he wants to do. For myself, as no doubt for most of my friends, the philosophy of meaninglessness was essentially an instrument of liberation from a certain system of morality. We objected to the morality because it interfered with our sexual freedom. The supporters of this system claimed that it embodied the meaning – the Christian meaning, they insisted – of the world. There was one admirably simple method of confuting these people and justifying ourselves in our erotic revolt: we would deny that the world had any meaning whatever.” Aldous Huxley

20 Comments Add yours

  1. zdunno03 says:

    I saw both the good and bad of foster care since my parents were foster parents and I had in total seven foster brothers. And though there are still three of those brothers in my family, all loved by me, I saw the effect of disfunctional families on some of the others, two of whom died tragically after leaving our house. My mother also eventually ran an emergency house for the Child Welfare Agency for several years where children were brought to stay before the court decided what to do with them. The sad, often horrific effects on those chidren caused by their parents made me believe without question in the existence of evil in this world. The systems we as a society put in place to deal with that evil is nowhere near adequate enough because we always underestimate evil.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Leonard! You are so right! Your last line nails it. Witnessing cruelty really makes you stop and think about evil. Also how evil and hate beget evil and hate.

      There are degrees of evil maybe, but it is an absolute truth that evil exists. On the up side love and goodness exist as well.

      It sounds like your family was a generous one. As a young person how did you feel when your parents brought these broken little strangers into your home?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. zdunno03 says:

        I love my brothers. I grieve for the two that met tragic ends. I actually wrote about it on the blog in a piece called My Brothers, as well as other memoir pieces from those days.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I think I read it a while back but will have to revisit that post. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      3. zdunno03 says:

        My mother used to say that blood was thicker than water, but then she ironically proved to me that that was not so.

        Like

      4. Mothers say the darnedest things. LOL.

        Have a wonderful day, Leonard!

        A

        Liked by 1 person

      5. zdunno03 says:

        You, too, Adrienne.

        Like

  2. delphini510 says:

    I thank you Adrienne for this strong and knowledgeable posting on a subject that has become so widespread and horrific.
    It frightened me to know that the philosophy of meaningless was a liberation from a system of moral beliefs.!
    How smart to hide yourself behind such fancy words.
    Bless all those who care for and love those who seem unlovable.

    Yes, there is evil out there because so many have chosen it.
    Miriam

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your last line is so true. It’s a daily choice — and not always an easy one! We are all capable of little acts of evil, things we don’t think are that important, but I believe these acts send ripples. We have more power than we realize for good and for bad.
      I believe one self deception is thinking we are basically good. Not that I think we should be beating ourselves up all the time but I’m often shocked to find my motivations for doing even “good” things come from a place of pride and selfishness. LOL.

      Have a wonderful day, Miriam. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Such an insightful post. I have loften wondered whether perpetrators of mass school killings have been long term medicated. You are doing your best to help individual children towards self-love.

    Like

    1. From what I’ve read most of the school shooters have been on long term psychotropic meds. It was an eye-opening experience to see how quickly the professionals prescribed meds to our foster daughter and I can tell you that they made her truly insane. It was very disturbing.

      To be honest it was because we saw first hand how a kid without an advocate can get lost in the system and how close this girl came to being permanently institutionalized that we kept fighting for her. It felt like evil to wash our hands of the situation (though many times we wanted to!).

      Now our kid is finally on the verge of being adopted and while she can be a real pain in the a** she is capable of love and attachment. She is also off all meds. Obviously some kids need them to function, but the last time they medicated her for ADHD she was traumatized by angry and violent thoughts. It makes you wonder…

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I once knew a UK psychiatrist who fought a seemingly losing battle against automatic Ritalin prescribed by colleagues.

        Like

      2. In our case we changed the kid’s diet, give a few vitamin supplements and force her to exercise each morning. It’s made a world of difference. Obviously more stability in her life has also helped. But even for myself if I can avoid meds, then I do. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Well done. Me, too, Adrienne.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. PS~ Have to love people who have the courage to question the system!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Gosh there’s just so much about this post that I love- and I really agree with you here. I think that the most important thing is that we’re all capable of immense evil and immense good. I think you’re proving to the world, by putting the effort in and helping someone whose been dealt a tough a hand, that people can really do amazing things for each other.

    Like

    1. It’s the nature of news to report on and fight about sensational, horrific stories, but every day people all over the world do magnificent, generous things –and probably with a lot more grace than me. Lol. But then no one ever said life was going to be pretty all the time. 🙂

      A few really weird coincidences happened on this foster care journey that made me feel like this was all meant to be. If I didn’t feel like God was in this somehow I probably would have thrown in the towel at the first sign of discomfort!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s very true. And I really wouldn’t put yourself down though! What you’re doing is incredible!

        And that’s amazing!

        Like

      2. I read somewhere that self-deprecating humor is good for the soul. haha!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. hehehe well I won’t argue with that 😉

        Like

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