Confessionals

I must confess. I’m not entirely honest. I don’t deceive, not intentionally at least, but I usually know a thing or two more than I let on. It helps me hold onto something, a sliver of control, a ground wire to make sure I don’t shock myself by coming to a dead end. If I don’t have the whole picture, I hide the pieces I have in pursuit of those I need to hold. When it’s all put together, and I meet someone, I don’t enlighten them. They need to come to it on their own, I might say, or it’s better to wait–maybe what I think is whole isn’t whole yet.

It’s not exactly deception. It’s not exactly honesty either.

As many of you may know, there’s been a couple people on campus that have made this semester hell. I mentioned their backstabbing in “Awfully Whetted Strife” where I discussed how my very sense of trust has been injured. In a few words I expressed my rising indignation over the one of them in “The Man Who Lied to My Face.” You don’t need to read those, not unless you want to, but it’s worth knowing how long this has been going on.

Because today it’s going to stop.

Although I hate to admit it, it was only yesterday when I finally got around to reading the essay “I’m Christian, unless you’re gay” by Dan Pearce. In it, Pearce doesn’t talk about being gay, not directly at least, but about how every major religion preaches love and acceptance above all other things, but how every major religion today does its least to actually support these beliefs and spread them to its followers. It was touching, poignant, and it got me thinking–not about being gay, not about being Jewish, but about how hateful I have become this semester.

I like to think I’m not a hateful person. In a private meeting, a staff member told me she can’t imagine there’s an evil bone in me. There isn’t. Well, there aren’t any to be seen–but there are. In spurts of anger, I’ve wished great harm upon weak people, I’ve wished rights away from the innocent merely to make a point. When the amendment passed, rewriting North Carolina’s constitution with codified discrimination, I flatly said, “Let it take away domestic violence protection. Let it strip seniors of their benefits. Let it hurt every God damn one of them. Then they’ll see how wrong they were.” And I meant it.

And I’d love to see these two guys expelled. Stripped of their diplomas and all their leadership roles. Tossed aside without any friends or any support from anyone. And I meant that too.

But is it worth it? Would I really want to see any of that? I can tell myself I want it, I can convince myself they all deserve it, but if it actually happened, I’d hate that it happened more than anything. I don’t want bad things to happen to good people–I don’t want bad things to happen to bad people. Anger and fury and hate are just easier than forgiveness, compassion, and love. Maybe that’s why the amendment passed–because we’ve all been fighting so hard against these forces when fighting only makes them stronger, but coexisting brings them to their knees. It’s a lesson we need to learn. To carry with us on our shoulders until it turns into wings. We’ll win their hearts next time. First we need to salvage what’s left of ours.

This post isn’t about the amendment, though. It’s about these guys at school. They’ve destroyed me–and I don’t even know why. Talking with one former member of the club they hail from, I was told they hate me because I’m too liberal. Talking with another former member, they hate me because I’m Jewish and gay. Talking with peripherals, people who’ve seen them but aren’t in the club, they hate me because I’m successful and they’re not, not as successful at least. Others add that they cause trouble because they’re insecure, because their lives are empty husks, because they’re short and don’t feel manly enough so they compensate in any way they can.

Maybe that’s true. Maybe all of that’s true. But should the reasons change the result? I’ve reached a point in understanding my own identity in which the reason why I’m gay doesn’t matter–all that matters is the fact that I am. It’s who I am. Maybe there’s a reason out there, whether genetics or psychology or whatever, but I’ve decided why doesn’t mean anything if it doesn’t the change the state of the present. Why I’m gay doesn’t matter; it only matters that I am. Therefore, why they do what they do doesn’t matter either.

They hate me. They cause trouble. That’s that.

So why has it destroyed me? Why?

This is a why that matters–because knowing this changes the way I react, changes the way I act in the future. I like to think I’ve not got a bad bone in me, and yet they have brought out the worst. Why? I like to think I’m forgiving and give people a second change–and I refuse to extend the same courtesy to them. Why?

I think the first element is trust. I’ve always considered myself a very trusting person, so trusting I’ve been called gullible in the past. I give people the benefit of the doubt. I make excuses why they failed me even though I’m critical on myself about failure. These two, however, these two have made such aggravated attacks that second chances and benefits of the doubts and the very fabric of my sense of trust have been shaken. There’s no way to mend broken bonds of trust. No way at all. They may regrow in time, but they never heal. In breaking the trust I’ve extended to them, they’ve scarred me for the rest of my life. We may never see each other again. We may never remember each other past today. But these scars will remain. I will never be able to trust people the same way again, and that makes me so, so sad. A part of me–a part of what formed my whole–has been cut away, sliced at and chiseled from my chest while I watched and writhed in pain.

How could I forgive them for that?

They’ve also made me hate. Pure, genuine hate. Hate to the point that I’ve confided in friends I’ve never felt so badly about myself–because I don’t believe I’m a hateful person. They’ve hurt me, that’s clear, but I’ve also watched them hurt my friends, my family, seen tears slip from red and puffy eyes because of them. I can defend myself against the things they do to me–but how can I sit idly while they perpetuate these same insults upon others? How could I feel anything toward them but hatred? And I despise that they’ve brought me to this place.

I’ve made it known, in formal writing, some of the things they’ve done. Not all of them–that would take much more than the three pages I restricted myself to. But I’ve filed this complaint, and being that nothing has yet happened, I am almost certain I will need to send it a step higher in the chain. This process has begun and I’m not going to stop it, since as I said in the letter, something must be done, but even as this continues, I can change.

I will not change my mind and withdraw my demand for action. But I can change my heart. Whatever reasons they hate me, whatever reasons they’ve grounded themselves upon to excuse the things they have done, I’m not going to let them control me any longer. I’m not going to let them further chip away at my trust. I’m not going to let them fill me with such hatred I grow weary because of it. I’m simply going to say what I believe, the values I try to uphold, are not these things. I forgive them for what they’ve done. I release them from their hold on me. I relinquish this hatred and this fury. It is no longer a part of me. And I hope–for hope is something I have always held dear–I hope that they may do the same and choose to do what’s right. I haven’t asked for much. Not very much at all. And though I’ll keep pushing for what I believe is the proper conclusion to this assault, today I am finished with it. I hold no more anger, no more disgrace. All that remains is their commitment to do the same.

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2 thoughts on “Confessionals

  1. >second change*

    Greetings Darren,

    I haven’t really let you in on what has happened in my life over the past few years, primarily because it would be too discomforting to both state (again) and, for you, to hear and process. Thoroughly discomforting. But a little thing I can share is that some of it involved shielding my brother from drug dealers, thieves, violent thugs and all sorts of ill-bred outliers that really should have been left to their own respective fates.

    Though I initially (three years ago) hadn’t known or recognized my family as family and certainly this sibling was not deserving of my month-long, obsessive (hours a day) concern, I felt a compulsion to help and assist where I deemed it fit, even when not possible. The fact that I have a pervasive guilt complex (where even the remembrance of not helping a random stranger dropping his shopping bags in the street can leave me psychologically incapacitated for days at a time) certainly attributed to my choice of actions.

    Instead, I taught them, I helped them (even financially and qua housing), and let them have every opportunity to exploit what good I offer to better their positions, their behavior, their very lives. Strange though, at the front of my motivation lied a genuine desire to help better them for their own benefit, rather than to stop them from exerting hurt wherever or with whomever they interact. Hoping to see good in all, even when it’s clearly not there.

    Thoroughly sociopathic in nature they were, and I was not naive; I realized that, even if my valiant efforts would be fruitful, they could never change that part of them that causes the problems I, in my true world’s curator fashion, wanted to see fixed. And that halted every inhibition of realism I carry with me.

    It has been an exhausting, painful and immensely unrewarding few years leaving me with major depression disorder, panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder and chronic tension pains, all of which combine into a perpetual circle of ill-mindedness and grief.

    They now carry on to rob, threaten, stalk and steal rampantly with not one indication they in any way altered their line of thinking or their complete disregard for humanity and society.

    Even so, I’d only wish them the best and all the kindness and blessings the world has to offer. That is caring, forgiving, and loving; wouldn’t you say?

    This is not a rant or complaint, so I will not divulge any more information and instead carry on to my counterpoint:

    By all sense of realism, emotional reprieve and, dare I say it, justice, the fact is that their actions are not the problems. They themselves are, in fact, the problem. Guiding them to another part diverts the train of problems onto another rail, and only stopping the train dead in its tracks will keep it from rampaging through yet another station.

    In short, though I couldn’t even bear the event of it occurring (in an emotional sense), they should be put down and put to rest, for their own peace as well as that of the dozens they wronged in some way.

    Is that an “evil bone” no longer latent in my body? I don’t think I could agree with that assertion. I am not particularly utilitarian in my outlook, but some acts (or indeed people) cross a boundary where the acute, immediate (and possibly only) solution is to disable them from continuing their destructive paths.

    Never would I morally defend anyone who actually enacted that discontinuation, but if you suppose there is a polarization of “good” and “evil” (whatever they may philosophically entail) and evil is not allowed to be stopped by nature of what’s good, evil would logically always triumph.

    So instead, I have the faintest conjecture that righting evil with evil is sometimes the just (if not fair, good or moral) course of action. I do not believe that such ideas tell anything about what good or evil you contain in your heart; or bones; or psyche.

    As for your second example, where you say you wish hypothetical harm on another disadvantaged minority that does not receive the same hatred the gay minority seems to receive: it is a hypothetical scenario that would serve to let good and reason prosper in a term far beyond the scope of the scenario.

    So how, then, can you even say what good and evil entail? Let me raise a hypothetical scenario, with 50 being satanically evil and 0 being saintly good:

    – We raise Hitler’s acts to a rating of 50.
    – We raise being morally upstanding and never violating the 10 commandments and any national or international law to a rating of 0.

    Say that murder, being a mortal sin in Catholicism, immediately raises you to a rating of 20 with the condition that you haven’t yet sought out divine reprieve to lower it.

    And think, for a moment, that by most people’s logic, any rating on and beyond 20 would fall into the spectrum of evil, we could say.

    So then, a person assassinates Hitler in the spring of ’42. He has committed a mortal sin that nets him 20. He is an “evil” person, assuming taking that vengeance is for God, not men, so to speak.

    However, let’s instead of using absolutes take a relativist perspective. Since Hitler’s crimes and the continuance thereof were netting a 50 point rating, and the replacement thereof nets only 20 points, we have netted a 30 point loss of evil.

    And now take the Saint that would never assassinate Hitler because of the moral unrighteousness of it all, he would still be at a 0 point rating. Since he stopped any evil and good should be the status quo, his net loss of evil is still 0.

    Even if the murderer is then absolutely more evil than the saint (20 to 0), he has ironically done more good for the world than the saint would have (-30 to 0). So the question becomes: as long as you stay below a certain boundary with your actions, can even evil acts be done goodly?

    Which does make us, unfortunately, come full circle and make the issue almost entirely utilitarian.

    The conclusion to this is that I just wanted to formulate the following thought for you: if you idealize evil acts for benign purposes, you do not necessarily have to think of yourself as evil. As long as you have confidence that your end-goal is by and large beneficial and serving humanity, the moral conflict itself rests only in spirit, and not in reality.

    (And a quick note: you may up until now assume this only involves guilty parties, but assassination of Hitler would surely have still led to perhaps millions of rapes and killings of Polish/German/Slavic citizens by the Russians, and whatever else the Allies would have done. An act for the greater good always involves the harm of innocents in some way.)

    I hope that alleviates some cognitive dissonance for you.

    Sorry that my post is a bit hazy, I had an exhausting time going out yesterevening.

    Be well,

    ~ Iced

    • My dear friend, I am saddened that you have endured so much without my ever taking the time necessary to be closer, to stay in touch more absolutely, and to give you the unwavering support I have always had for you. However, the mere fact that you have persevered proves that you personify an amazing that I have never been close to touching and that you will do great things and make great changes in this world unparallelled by any other. I have complete faith in you, complete support of you, and complete belief that you are one of the strongest people I know.

      To move onto your counterpoint, I am intrigued by your reasoning, and sadly I am inclined to agree on many points. In the play “Doubt,” Sister Aloysius states that “in the pursuit of wrongdoing, you are led further from God,” and in these past few months, I have come to understand the truth of this statement. If all we hail as “good” cannot fight back, then only in abandoning what “good” we have can we attack what’s evil in this world. However, I still hold onto the belief that until all options have been extorted, moving to such measures should not be attempted, nor even considered. It is a challenge for me to sacrifice my moral and ethical fibers for the sake of a fight, no matter how persistent nor viral the assailant may be.

      In Judaism, we do not judge thoughts, but actions. However, there is a saying I believe in (sometimes attributed to Lao-Tze, other times “unknown”) that says “Watch your thoughts, for they become words. Watch your words, for they become actions. Watch your actions, for they become habits. Watch your habits, for they become character. Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.” If I cannot hold a hand to my thoughts, what stands to keep them from becoming my destiny? Especially when that is a destiny I do not subscribe to.

      Nonetheless, you raise many great points on the nature of good and evil and the benefits (if perhaps the inherent harms) of utilitarianism. Always things to think about. Thank you, my friend.

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