Seeking asylum

i have this habit... well i have a lot of habits,
but the one on my mind today goes back
to studying literature i guess.

i like to look words up in the dictionary.

a good dictionary.

a dictionary like the Oxford, where you get
the definitions of the word but you also get
a sense of where the word came from,
and how it came to be....

so today i looked up...



1. [mass noun] (also political asylum) the protection
granted by a state to someone who has left their home
country as a political refugee:she applied for asylum
and was granted refugee status

[as modifier] : his asylum application was refused shelter
or protection from danger

: we provide asylum for those too ill to care for themselves

2. (dated) an institution for the care of people
who are mentally ill: he’d been committed to an asylum

Origin: late Middle English (in the sense 'place of refuge',
especially for criminals): via Latin from Greek asulon 'refuge', from asulos 'inviolable', from a- 'without' + sulon 'right of seizure'.

Current senses date from the 18th century.

It was more than a romantic 'thing' about language
that got me into this habit. It was a powerful curiousity,
informed by my ongoing (and seemingly endless) problems
dealing with reality, as it is commonly understood.

Words, and ergo language are the building blocks
of thought, and thought is reality.

So if one (ie- me) was having problems with "reality",
or if "reality" was having problems with me,
going back to the source and double-checking what exactly
something was supposed to mean might help.

And it has. It does. 

"the protection granted by a state to someone
who has left their home country

Is it just me, or is there something terribly poignant
about this idea? And although the notion of mental
illness does not come up until "2", is there not something
of the mentally different intrinsic in this primary definition?

Isn't "reality" something we all like to think of as
our home country? Even before we get to the idea
of nation or home, isn't the idea of reality something
we'd all like to think we share?

Because if we don't, aren't we conjuring a kind of loneliness
so profound as to be almost unbearable?

How much lonelier could life be than that?

How much greater need could there be for "asylums"?

And while we all know that there are more horror stories
than we care to consider about the lives that so many lived
in these facilities now only thought of as haunting and haunted, abandoned and gone....

...wasn't there something noble in such grand
attempts to help?

As always, the impulse behind these institutions
outlived the commitment, and they became over-crowded
and fell further and further behind in their ability to help.

They became dumping grounds for unwanted people,
and were misused and subject to the whims of fashion,
to where an ice-pick could be seen as a cure-all
and where fewer and fewer cared about what a "cure"
might mean to the one undergoing it.


But how much worse is it to abandon people altogether?

To throw them out on the street with a handful of pills
and nothing else, to deal with a world they don't understand and who does not understand them, and who doesn't have the time or the inclination to care?

To leave them alone, on the street,
with nowhere to go... no place of asylum?


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