First of all, people want to see me in Orlando (see yesterday’s blog) and I think that’s fantastic! I can’t wait to meet folks at the signing! Wheee!
Second of all, I’ve never been thrilled with boxes.
Foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.
Yeah–most people remember that Emerson quote wrong. They think it’s “foolish inconsistency”–but that’s not what Emerson is saying. He’s saying that we really fuck ourselves over trying to keep EVERYTHING THE PERFECT SAME ALL THE TIME.
In short, boxes aren’t great.
Most holy books have inconsistencies in them. People start wars over whether or not they should be read one way or the other–so essentially a book who’s entire purpose is to tell people to be nice to each other, give back to the earth, feed the hungry, educate the poor, respect the personhood of all persons becomes a tool of violence and oppression.
People want rules: I want to get away with as much as possible without being thought of as a bad person. Give me rules, and I will obey the rules and nobody will think I”m a bad person but I can still bully people on the internet and be judgey as fuck about people not me and think that mental illness and teen pregnancy and opioid addiction will never happen to me because I checked all the goddamned boxes.
But the fact is, sticking to those rules may be easier, because a person doesn’t have to think, but it means that following the rules leaves the world at large at the mercy of people who DON’T WANT TO THINK. Like the people who believe, “Hey! This list of rules says homosexuality is BAD. If I’m not homosexual, I am not BAD, so I can be a complete and total vile ass-worm to anybody homosexual, and I am GOOD.” Now, I obviously don’t feel that way, and people reading my books aren’t going to think that way and that’s fine. But what about people who think LGBTQ rights are GREAT, but adhere to progressive rules with the same zealotry as the redneck adheres to his fundamental church. “Hey, this list of rules says only idiots get pregnant as teenagers, so that must mean it’s BAD. Since I had MY children in perfectly planned accord with my income level and support team status, I must be good, so I’m going to be judgey as fuck and a total assworm to anybody like that, and I am GOOD.”
Which isn’t good at all.
It’s substituting one list of rules–one set of checked boxes for another–and then doing the same damned thing. “I have checked all the boxes, so I am good, and I can be a total twat to anybody who doesn’t match this set of boxes.”
When we were in the classroom, we were told to have a few general rules– For example “Respect people’s time”covers everything from “Don’t talk when the teacher is talking” to “Don’t ask dumbshit questions when other people have real ones,” to “Don’t be tardy and if you ARE tardy don’t make a big furry assed deal about it that interrupts the whole goddamned class.” You don’t need to make a giant list of boxes to check if you have a generally good idea in place of the list of boxes. And that way, the kid who sees that someone set fire to the bathroom isn’t going to be afraid of blurting out, “HEY OMIGOD THERE’S SMOKE!” because the teacher will send them to the principal’s office before pulling the fire alarm.
In fact, it often seems like long specific lists of rules are made specifically to let people like politicians and dirty cops and people like Anne Coulter (who is a vile assworm) get away with doing and saying horrible things to people–like, say, shooting unarmed citizens and then saying, “But I was using a department accepted protocol of racially profiling to determine my life was in danger from a twelve year old with a candy bar in his hand.”
It’s like, “Hey– that wasn’t on my list of unacceptable boxes–I’m still a good person and can’t be held accountable because YOU DID NOT TELL ME SPECIFICALLY THAT KILLING AN UNARMED PERSON OF COLOR WAS BAD IF I GOT CAUGHT DOING IT.”
Which is, of course, totally evil and unacceptable vile fucking bullshit.
But that whole box thing–it does give people an out, particularly those who don’t like to think, don’t like to monitor their own morality, don’t like to assess whether or not their hurtful behavior should have any internal consequences even if the external consequences are, shall we say, sorely lacking in depth and appropriate severity.
And the more one side (the left) sees the other side doing it (the ultraconservative dickweeds who want to kill the press, steal our health insurance, starve the children and enable the rapists) the more they feel justified in doing it themselves. For every politician going, “Hey, nobody is going to hold me accountable for this NRA kickback I’m getting to let my own citizens blow themselves up,” there’s a left wing troll screaming in someone’s face about what should be a simple difference of opinion and not a blood-letting matter of extreme and dire proportions. And while the troll’s actions aren’t as dire as the crooked GOP’s willingness to ignore moral bankruptcy, they don’t make the wall of good we’re trying to build any stronger.
I’m just saying–goodness is simple. Goodness is forgiveness. It’s the strength to say, “I don’t think that’s right,” and to do something to right the wrong. There is no requirement for being horrible to people, in goodness. It’s EVIL that comes with all sorts of boxes checked and arguments made as to why being a shitty person if just fine because the boxes were checked, right? Legally it’s all hunky dory! Ethically we’re great!
I think Christopher Moore said it best: Feed the hungry, heal the sick, educate the poor. How hard is it to fuck that up?
Or was it Jesus who said that–different words, same meaning?
Or was it Mohammed?
I’m sure it’s out there somewhere, in a zillion different quotes.
There is no list of checked boxes that can make us right if we still behave horribly to our fellow man. There just isn’t.
So there you go.
Rambling, incoherent, and probably destined to piss people off.
But I bet this one’s hard to put in a frickin’ box, right?