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The Good and The Bad of Madness

BY MICHAEL REISIG –

As we look at our world lately it seems as if madness has managed a foothold in the sanity of every day life. While the overall madness of this ball of dirt and water seems to be growing in leaps and bounds, I’m reminded that it is really nothing new with the boundaries of human psyche. Friedrich Nietzsche said, “Madness is actually rare in individuals, but in groups, nations, and ages, it is the rule.”

I’ve known some fairly strange people in my life. I’m not sure they were all mad, but many were certainly a little crazy. Crazy, like sugar, is good in small doses – it can actually be fun. But the truth is, I’ve known some crazy people who outright scared me. Craziness has its nuances – there’s the “Let’s get wild and see how fast this old car will go,” to the “Let’s finish off this bottle of wine and rob a 7-11.” You have to know when to hold up, when to fold up, and when to walk away. Crazy people aren’t good at parameters. Love, of course, represents the quintessential craziness, as it only takes things to go extraordinarily well or unexpectedly wrong for that lunacy to find its footing.

Actual madness extends a little farther, and can represent a more permanent affliction. Yet with madness often comes vision, and extraordinary expression – from writers and artists, to poets and computer geniuses. Madness often opens doors to places the sane can’t venture. What we call genius can often be nothing more than a degree of madness.

But the greatest, most debilitating madness may be refusing reality and seeing only what you want to see. Nowhere is madness so prevalent, so contagious, as in the gathering of the masses, and this reminds me so much of those angry assemblies occupying the streets and the universities of our nation, or falsifying voting registrations for elections, or refusing to accept the less-than-pleasing facts that exist about their political candidates, or the invasion and occupation of their countries. For these reasons, and others, I believe politicians should never be allowed to serve more than two terms, before the madness of ego, greed, and power distorts their senses and overwhelms them. When I watch television at night I’m reminded of a quote by Napoleon Bonaparte: “The great proof of madness is the disproportion of one’s designs to one’s means.”

Each of us, if we look for it, has a touch of madness within us – the trick is to learn to use it without succumbing to it. In truth, some of the greatest, most daring, most flamboyant moments in the history of mankind were nothing more than the exercise of madness. This overwhelming sense of devil-may-care is oftentimes nothing more than the extreme limit of brilliance – grasping the situation with clairvoyance and desperation at the same time – charging into the fray with hounds of insanity baying all around you – seizing the moment.

Being crazy can be a temporary situation, or a more permanent state of mind. But in the end, I’ll tell you what the most subtle madness of all really is. It’s getting up every morning and doing the same thing over and over again, without looking to the horizon, without challenging yourself, without seeking fresh love, life, failure, or success, or questioning it all.

The views and opinions expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the ownership and staff of The Polk County Pulse. Michael Reisig is a freelance writer and published author whose works are reproduced throughout the globe.

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