the distance in your eyes

January 26, 2016

That’s me in the corner, that’s me with the soft bite, losing my forbearance.

I have always been pleased to think that I move through cycles quickly, like a series of HotWheels loop de loops. Recently I am beginning to suspect that I am deeper than previously assumed. Beneath the rapid little eddies and whirlpools there move currents murky and profound; far beneath. They are as old as I am, and many of them are older. We are always swimming, these old ones and I. Come back to the warmth of the murk, they murmur. Come out into the crisp of the clear, I gasp.

I am wilfuly changing my neurobiology. I am reshaping myself in my own image. For years I have been slowly tearing the old, dense, groaning, massive fibers of self away from the fabric I was raised in. My parents were wonderful; they loved us fiercely and we never doubted it for a moment. I wouldn’t trade my childhood for anything. But the religion they raised us with: it broke my heart all childhood long.

I was reading early. My mom read to me all the time and I can’t remember a time before her voice and stories. Some she read, some she made up. Stories were our way of life. I read in gobbles. I read everything I could get my hands on, and then I read it over again. My mom took us to the library twice a week every week and each time I would paw entire shelvesful of appropriate sections into my book bag, and quietly steal inappropriate books and read them in corners, in the dark, in any secret space I could come by. (I always returned these contraband books; it was really more like borrowing than stealing. Really). When my mom was too pregnant to take us to the library, I read all the way through our crumbly old Encyclopedia set (only the interesting bits) over and over and over. I read my eyes into a sort of death spiral akin to nervous prostration, and as a result am the only member of my family who needs glasses. I read like mad, is what I’m saying. And I read the bible a lot.

I think this experience is what makes it impossible for me to look at one group of people, like Christians, or Muslims, or Scientologists, or non-recyclers, or whoever those asshats are that drive civilian Hummers, and believe that they are all just terrible people. I know from personal experience on both sides of the extreme beliefs fence that every way of thinking has its eat a burrito moments and its heaps of tribal steaming horsecrap. I know that many of the modern members of thought factions tend to focus on the delicious buy the world a coke sort of candy coating, and more or less avoid the blood and guts filled nougaty center, and I can absolutely understand how they would feel that this is the thing to do. Absolutely. But the problem is that back of all the goodwill and judge-not rhetoric there is a nasty brutal bunch of closed-minded intolerant holier-than-thou entitled claptrap, and the deep habits and infrequently revisited fundamental beliefs that we hold shape us just as much as the responsive, processed, higher brain ideals we think we adhere to.

This is why it’s so hard to walk the talk. The walk comes from the bones, the old things, we learned it long ago and all sorts of new muscle and tissue have gone over it before we ever thought to take a close look at it. This is why I am unappeased by the knowledge that within every shit belief system there are good people just trying to do their best. This is why I think that everyone needs to start taking responsibility for not only themselves and their own tenets and actions, but those of their like-minded peers and their school of thought overall. You can’t just say about things that you find appalling, ‘well I’m not like that.’ That is not an action. That is not good enough. You have to care that anyone is like that, and then you have to do something about it. I’m not saying that just because you share a demographic someone else’s ugliness is your responsibility; but I am god damned tired of nobody else’s ugliness being anybody else’s responsibility, especially when it springs directly from shared belief systems.

Although I am definitely not just talking about religious beliefs here in general, religion is the easiest to harp on because it is the one that kicks out the highest quality and quantity of heinous fucking shit year after decade after century after eon. And instead of being like I usually am, being all ‘we all have stuff to work on,’ and ‘everybody sucks at some things,’ this time I am actually calling members of religion out. Like I usually am though, I am also calling out members of every other clique or intellectual aggregate. Look to your bullshit. Reign in your rabid hounds. Sort out your bad damn apples. The people their prejudice oppresses the most have been dedicated to maintaining the freedom that allows that prejudice for too long. Rather than treat you or anyone else as they are treated, they have persisted quietly beneath the staircases, mostly just looking to be let alone. Some of us are getting tired of that, and the multiple perspectives our speculative explorations have afforded us are losing their power to feed our compassion. Feeling sorry for the assholes is not forever going to keep us from coming for their cruelty and corruption. Maybe I am just getting old and getting fed up with shit, but I really do feel that coming generations will be more and more willing to meet this rot with the battleaxe; not for the splinter of flesh and bone but for the destruction of that ancient insinuating snarl of gummy threads that weaves every crap old ideology together.

When you spend all your time focused on the dogma between the lines or debating only over the old harangues, you’re only thinking old thoughts and your belief system gets musty. You lose your adaptability, your capacity for growth, your ability to create and discover, your flair for joy. You are so much more dynamic than that. Belief systems need exploration, the adventure of new thought, and conflict. Conflict is what breathes value into something; only when you’ve fought your own self for it do you know that you truly desire and own it. When you never wrestle with an angel, you never know the depth of your conviction. When you never question what you know to be true, you are blind to all the inevitable fallacies that accompany any set of principles that humans have handed down to one another for a long enough time. I don’t even challenge the concept that your god or its chosen prophet(s) handed these principles directly to humanity; or that your scientific study is the one that finally managed to poop out a perfect, finished cause-and-effect correlation; but I flatly challenge humanity’s ability to properly interpret any shit from anywhere ever if no inquisitiveness, no imagination, is ever brought to that interpretation.

We all have to learn to take an active style of responsibility for our beliefs and credos and habits. For our religions, our pop icons, our pet causes, our sports teams, our hobbies. We have to hold them to the same standards we have for ourselves, or let them go. It is the only way we can create and discover and enjoy within the lifestyles we embrace. It is the only way we can ever all grow together.


I am


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