So, Why Bother?

I had the kind of conversation this afternoon that leaves you feeling like you’ve been crying all day after its over.  I think it’s just the kind of day it is, where you read about little kids getting stabbed in the head or having their fingers cut off or getting shot at their colleges or almost killed by their dads because their dads are out of cigarettes and I guess have nothing better to do.  Yep, we live in a world with people in it who actually think “Well, fuck, I’m out of cigarettes and the kid’s crying; I guess I’ll just beat him almost to death.”

It’s the kind of day where you do wonder just what the fuck the point is, because, really, what can be done in the face of that kind of shit?

So, when a man you love tells you that all men are monsters and you say that you just can’t believe that and he’s just like, well, then, that’s the end of that; you’re just wrong.

And what if you are wrong?

What if men are just monsters, all men, secretly monsters and all women, in our own way, just as bad?

Then, I ask you, what’s the point?  Why even bother with people if they’re just dangerous and evil and there’s no redemption possible?  Why try to save or help anyone, if in saving or helping them, you’re just unleashing them on other unsuspecting folks?

I can’t live that way–knowing that everyone around me is monstrous and that there’s only a fear of the repercussions that keeps the people closest to me from hurting me.  If that’s the case, why even bother?

I cannot believe it.  And maybe it makes me the biggest dumbass on the face of the planet, a giant naive fool, but I do believe that there are genuinely good folks in the world and that people can care about each other and be around each other out of genuine affection, not because they’re just waiting for an opportunity to pounce.  And I believe in everyday redemption, not some kind of supernatural miracle that comes from some mysterious place outside of us, but in the everyday choice to this day try.

Maybe that’s stupid, but I don’t know how you even leave your house otherwise.

21 thoughts on “So, Why Bother?

  1. Oh B, Some days it feels that way but the truth is most people have a lot more good than they’re willing to admit.
    We all have a lot of dark stuff too. I think that’s what makes the good all the more precious.

  2. Yes, of course there is plenty of good in people, B. But the word monster can mean so much. I have described my children as little monsters in the past, but of course I don’t truly think they are bad, or even remotely evil. Its a strange word to me, but I’ll repeat a little of a conversation I had about this as well. Chemically speaking, men and women are different. Testosterone is powerful, and as men age they learn to suppress some very powerful urges. I think thats why men are pre-disposed toward violence. Now, what you described above has nothing to do with that, but most likely a diseased mental state.

    You asked “whats the point?” I have to ask..of what? Of living? That seems a spiritual question, and though I’m loathe to publicly discuss my own spirituality, I have to do so to answer your question, rhetorical or not. For ME, the “point ” is to experience and celebrate the experience of life.

    Thats easy to do on a mild Spring day, when the trees are full of leaves, the flowers are blooming, and the birds are happily announcing your presence. Its easy to do when you are in the company of good people, eating your fill and laughing. In the face of an atrocity, it gets trickier. Is it possible to embrace a soul and exhibit compassion and forgiveness even after it has committed some horrible act? I say it is possible, and perhaps is truly ‘the point.”

  3. The whole original sin, fall of man thing is like a kick in the teeth when it dawns on you that it really is true.

    Most religions are all about fixing it. Recognizing our divinity, elimiating desire, embracing atonement, becoming at one with creation – all of these are remedies for that something inherent in all of us which makes us, well, monsters.

    Every single world view starts with the premise that there’s something within us that needs fixing – except the unrealistic ones.

    I sound like Confucius! :) Just enjoy the snow, B. Remember, if we are all equally fallen, there is a freedom in that.

  4. Is it possible to embrace a soul and exhibit compassion and forgiveness even after it has committed some horrible act? I say it is possible, and perhaps is truly ‘the point.”

    I think one of the keys is applying that principle with consistency. To all people. Not just a select few.

  5. Then Slarti, my teeth remain intact. i don’t for a minute think that God would create anything flawed, then when the flaw presents itself, expect the entity to somehow atone for it. It is a sign of an individuals progress toward becoming divine that he/she sees perfection in everything. You may feel somehow unworthy, but i do not, and never have.

  6. “all” men monsters? no. not even most, not by a long shot. just some, a very few here and there. only trick is spotting them in time and dealing with them appropriately. most people can be safely trusted; otherwise we could never have built as large and successful a society as we have.

  7. Still, Nomen, our physical make-up makes us all potential monsters. Again, its a strange term. To a mouse, a cat is a monster. To us, not so much.

  8. Well, dude, clearly I can accept that we all are potential monsters. I certainly believe that most people are just as capable of being evil as they are being good (and visa versa) and that there are a subset of us who are just born bad.

    I just think that there’s a world of difference between the world being full only of monsters and the world being full only of potential monsters. One viewpoint leads to hope; the other to libertarianism. Hee.

    Slarti, I don’t go to your blog and insult your religious views. Please don’t come to mine and insult mine. That’s about as civil as I can be about that nonsense so I’ll let it be.

  9. Unless we happen to have severe feline allergies. (tee-hee)

    But anyway, Mack, I agree with you on that level; we all have the potential to behave as monsters, and monstrosity is often a highly subjective concept.

    most people can be safely trusted; otherwise we could never have built as large and successful a society as we have.

    But then, Nomen, our society (if you are referring to the U.S.) was built on several macro and many millions of micro monstrosities. The same could be said of just about any other society, to be sure. So I guess it depends on how you define monsters and monstrosity, but I think it often depends on one’s perspective. Is this any less monstrous than this? Our corporate media and our political leaders seem to think so, but then they don’t seem to have much of a problem with this, so who knows?

  10. Mack: I am trying to figure out how you can say we are not flawed, and yet we can potentially be monsters.

    Isn’t that a contradiction?

  11. Well, no, Ginger, if you’ll scroll up, you’ll see that I was, as C.S. said, talking about the subjectivity of the term. BTW, we are the ones assigning labels like that. Do you think the universe, or God, looks down at a cat tossing around a mouse and cruelly killing it as “monster like”? Of course not. We assign flaw to humans. We say, since you did “this” or are like “that”, you must be flawed. I think we buy into this illusion everyday. I do it as much as anyone. But, I don’t believe God looks upon us as flawed whatsoever. Very hard for me to type this without sounding like Neil Donald Walsh, but, having read the Bible and having read his series of books, i can tell you which resonated with me, and seemed more like the truth, and which did not. I find it kinda funny that modern day Christians think that the Bible was the last written communication from “on high.” Not so.

    But i chimed in here because B seemed truly upset by the idea that men can act violently and cruelly towards people for terrible reasons. i agree that they can, but was trying to drive home a point that it all depends upon how you view the acts, and which labels you affix to them.

  12. I don’t believe God looks upon us as flawed whatsoever.

    I agree with you. In “churchdom” there is a saying that God sees us as perfect “through the blood of Christ”…meaning that we were born into sin (original sin), but that because of the atonement, we are sinless in God’s eyes.

    Of course, we may not agree in the “mode” of how we are without flaw, or perfect, but I think actually agree more than disagree.

  13. CS, no, i was speaking of human civilization in general. and by “monsters”, i was thinking mostly of sociopaths and/or career violent criminals (assuming there’s much of a difference). probably not the clearest i’ve ever made myself, granted.

    and for a moment there, i thought i knew exactly what Mack was talking about concerning the potential monster in each of us, and that i agreed with him — but then it seems he was talking about something religious, which means i almost certainly don’t either understand or agree, after all. bummer.

    there’s a potential for not only violence, but outright evil, in everybody i’ve ever known — we all have a “dark side”. most of us can manage it just fine, though. there’s plenty of perfectly good ways to, and in most cases, we don’t even really need to fear our respective shadows. i wouldn’t go so far as to claim that a failure to handle it is what makes people monsters — the reasons are likely more complicated — but yeah, most of us have a side like that, and in some sense, it’s a potential for the monstrous. but it’s not an unavoidable sentence, and it’s not at all clear to me that it’s exactly a “flaw”, either.

  14. Nomen, all due respect, (and that is substantial) i had to laugh at your comment a little. Religion? Have zero use for it, my friend. Spirituality? Different story.

  15. Nomen, I think we’re kind of on the same page, especially when you talk about complexity. It leads me to question the scope and nature of what we call “evil.” It’s easy to peg a serial killer as evil, or at least as someone who is given over to his dark side. But what about someone like Karl Rove, or Henry Kissinger, or Bill Clinton? These people are responsible (directly and indirectly) for the deaths hundreds of thousands, even millions of innocent people, and we call them geniuses and statesmen. Along comes an amateur (if we’re going by body counts) like Osama bin Laden, and we give him status akin to Old Scratch himself. Do we give the former men a pass on the “evil” label because their victims don’t count as much, or because to implicate them is to implicate ourselves (seeing as we are a democracy and all)?
    I guess I just take a more holistic view of evil. It isn’t always as sexy as the criminal who takes the killing into his own hands, even though that’s the kind of evil that gets the headlines. Most evil, and I’d say this includes the deadlier forms of evil, is far more banal.

  16. I was thinking of this exact thing last night. All the popular media ink spilled on the murder of the Romanov family throughout the 20th century and the crackpot theories about Anastasia versus a handful of academic productions about the murderous habits of that clan. For god’s sake, the Russian Orthodox Church canonized Nicholas II and his family. Who remembers Bloody Sunday (no, not Bono’s Bloody Sunday)? The pogroms? The murders of Poles and Finns and workers and dissidents and priests and charity workers and and and…good Lord.

    By all means, let’s make some more Disney movies romanticizing monarchy.

  17. I think that, not only are we all capable being monsters, but our brutality and selfishness has to be trained out of us by society.

  18. but our brutality and selfishness has to be trained out of us by society.

    Yessir, Ex, it does indeed take a village.

  19. All people in general have the ability to do horrible things, but it’s the reining in of these impulses that keep most of us safe. People ask me, “aren’t you scared to walk home by yourself, don’t you get scared to stay by yourself at night?” My answer is yeah sure, doesn’t everybody, but I can’t let fear rule. If I stayed home scared to death to go out alone, then I would never go anywhere. Being human takes a lot of courage.

  20. Wow, isn’t this an example of of modern man using an ultra-new medium to discuss a basic question of human existence as ancient as, well, human existence.

    Kinda cool when you think about it, the universality of it all.

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