(Today’s post: how I turned into a speedbump under the bus on the road of life . . . and why expecting anything from anyone is a ridiculous fucking idea in a world without a point, no ethics, and a bunch of mewling, puling self-interested jackholes.)
I don’t get the New York Times every Sunday anymore, and when I do, the reading of its sections and magazine tends to stretch over long periods of time. For example, only this morning did I begin to peruse the magazine from July 21 and come across Chuck Klosterman’s column, “The Ethicist: An Operatic Con” concerning a friend who had misled another and, when the deception was discovered, thought it funny whilst the duped friend thought it a betrayal of trust and of the relationship.
I’ve thought a lot about what constitutes betrayal. I’ve though a lot about the obligations of relationships and what are reasonable expectations.
There is a difference between “reasonable” and “rational” – as in, you may reasonably expect someone who professes to love you to behave (or not behave) in certain ways, but, when they repeatedly act (or don’t act) in ways that qualify to you as dis-honoring that love (or friendship or whatever), then it becomes an irrational belief on your part to expect them to behave differently in the future. As in, if someone dishonors what you understood as your agreement, then, chances are, imagining they won’t continue to do so is – on your part – irrational.
That old saying: Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me three times, I’m a fucking idiot.
I am, admittedly and repeatedly, a fucking idiot.
However, despite the fact that I no longer believe in god or karma or the existence of any sort of order whatsoever, and therefore think that behaving in ethical or moral ways has no eternal benefit – in fact – has no benefit at all except that of personal satisfaction – I still think one ought to behave in ways that honor the dignity and feelings of others.
I don’t think it gets you anything. And I don’t think (well, I know for a fact from experience, actually) that MOST people – even those who claim to be moral, ethical, religious, whatever – manage to act in ethical, decent, moral ways when their own immediate gratification and self-satisfaction is at stake. As in, most people will happily throw almost anyone under the nearest bus, particularly if doing so gets them a ride on that bus to somewhere that will make them happy.
BUT HERE’S THE THING – it’s none of my fucking business. What you (meaning ANYONE) do is not mine to judge. Everything awful that I think anyone has done to me, they have had a reason, a story, a spin, a motivation for. Everything awful anyone else thinks I did to them; I have had my own story. We all have our stories. We’ve all made somebody else a speedbump beneath a Greyhound.
Yes, sometimes we do things that we KNOW are going to hurt other people when they hear about them or experience them – and we do them anyway. Sometimes we justify these things – and here’s the BIG CLUE that we know we’re doing something shitty – when as (or before or after) we are doing it, we start justifying in our head with some variation of “Well, s/he did such and such so what I’m doing is only fair.”
When I believed in a greater power and order, I used to think that it was my job to see PAST what hurt and realize that buried inside every action was an original good intent born of love; that EVEN WHEN it seemed someone had done something AWFUL on purpose, cognizant of the hurt it would cause – even ACTIVELY trying to cause pain – I BELIEVED that being a “good person” meant it was incumbent upon me to see beyond all of that to the place where LOVE lived.
I don’t believe that anymore. And having believed it for decades and operating from that foundation WITHOUT receiving the same consideration reciprocally from people got me screwed (and not in the good way) more times than I care to count. So, there really is no point, is there, in any sort of measure of ethics or morality or loyalty or any of those other WORDS I used to use when I taught or directed or wrote or had loved ones – that blather we use when we talk about love and friendship and family and relationships – it’s just more meaningless bullshit.
The truth is, almost everyone sucks, and at any moment, almost anyone is perfectly happy to make you into a speedbump. I have had more buses running over me in the past few years than the parking lot at Port Authority. And here’s the thing. Fuck you.