11 Apr
2013

Depression and The Devil

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Rick Warren, who is the pastor of one of the most influential megachurches in the U.S. and very likely the world lost his son to suicide last week. His son Matthew struggled with depression his entire life. I’ve struggled with it too and I empathize. I don’t intend to attack Rick Warren though I disagree with him on many issues. I’ve experienced the way that depression is often dealt with in evangelical communities. I believe the way it’s often dealt with can be problematic and even dangerous. I woke up this morning way before the sun and I saw that Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church here in Seattle had written something in the wake of this tragedy. Much of what Driscoll has written here horrifies me. I’m going to resist the temptation to binge on ad hominem attacks against Mark Driscoll. He wrote something that jumped out at me and I believe it’s unfortunately very illustrative of the view of depression and other mental health issues that many in the evangelical community have. He wrote about what he said to his daughter after he received the text message about the death of Matthew Warren,

I told her what had happened and told her that Satan hates pastors’ kids and is sometimes relentless in attacking them.

 

I don’t know what the hell I believe these days. I’m still figuring it out and there are people concerned I’ll finally figure it out while I’m roasting in Hell. I’ve got to wonder why the hell it’s necessary to look to the demonic when it comes to the reason someone is afflicted with depression. Depression is dark enough without having to bring in the prince of darkness. It’s terrifying enough without having to bring in the absolute embodiment of evil. Why is it necessary to mystify depression by turning it into some sort of epic spiritual battle? Why can’t it just be an illness? It is just an illness. It’s a painful illness. It’s cost me quite a bit in the way of blood and treasure. I’ve been removed from the evangelical community for quite some time as I try to determine what it is I believe though I have many friends and acquaintances who are still in it and will likely be in it for the rest of their lives. I know that something I certainly don’t miss about the church is the need to imbue my struggle with depression with some sort of great spiritual significance. It needed to be part of the grand salvation drama. I’m not sure that thinking about mental illnesses like depression in terms of spiritual warfare is a good idea at all.

depression

It seems a bit of a medieval notion that depression is the result of demonic attack. I know that will sound like a bit of James Randi style skeptical scoffing to the evangelical faithful but can it honestly be said that such an idea really belongs in the 21st century? The Bible is many things but it most definitely is not a psychology or psychiatry textbook. You can speculate about the demonic. You can point to episodes in scripture that have to do with the demonic but the Bible is hardly a technical manual for the demonic. Even if the demonic does exist and has an impact on our earthly life, I have my doubts that anyone knows exactly how it operates. Since we don’t know, the responsible thing to has to be not to speculate and not to construct some sort of twisted Dungeons and Dragons style narrative to put people suffering from depression and other mental illnesses in the middle of. How can that possibly be helpful? How is that approach healthier than one that doesn’t invoke the demonic? Why not just let depression be depression? Why pump a problem like depression full of spiritual steroids? In my own experience, depression is much easier to deal with when it isn’t part of some grand salvation drama. That takes a lot of the pressure off. You can keep your demons.

I hope that this can bring about some sort of serious re-examination of how mental illness is dealt with in evangelical communities but I’m afraid demons are still going to be dancing through the heads of the faithful for quite some time.

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10 Apr
2013

Republican Party Problems

Republican Party

Senator Rand Paul recently criticized the Republican Party and its approach to foreign policy on the Christian Broadcasting Network. He said, “Part of Republicans’ problems and, frankly, to tell you the truth, some in the evangelical Christian movement, I think have appeared too eager for war. When people come to me and they’re lobbying for ratcheting up some bellicose policy –- even if it’s a bad country — I tell them: When I read the New Testament, and when I read about Jesus, he wasn’t really involved in the war of his days. …Blessed are the peacemakers, not blessed are the warmakers.”

You won’t catch me wearing a Rand Paul t-shirt but he got something right. I eagerly supported the war in Iraq as a young Republican and as an evangelical. In fact, I was coming home from church the evening that President Bush had given the order to begin the invasion of Iraq. There was very little consideration about whether this was the most conservative or Christian thing to do. Senator Paul has been dismissed by the usual neoconservative suspects like Charles Krauthammer and Bill Kristol. It isn’t just war though. The Republican Party has a problem and they seem to be hellbent on acting like the addict on Intervention who refuses to go into rehab.

I hate to talk about the Republican Party and an image problem. It makes me sound like some soulless pundit on Fox or MSNBC who is brought in and gets too many average people using terms from the PR industry in everyday speech. They have a problem. It’s not just a perception. It’s not something some PR or ad agency can fix. The Republican Party is controlled by anti-intellectual, socially conservative Christians who believe that there is a war on Christianity, that global warming is a hoax and that there is no separation between church and state. It’s a party for the concerns of the rich, white man and it scares minorities. No, I’m not saying the Democrats are saintly liberators of the people who take the Sermon on the Mount really seriously but if the Republican Party is your team then you seriously have to wonder if a few things might need to change.

Things have gotten surreal when Republicans answer questions about Darwin and the age of the earth like there is a person with a gun in the next room. Can you really pretend that nothing is wrong at all when outright denial of a serious problem like global warming is an article of faith for Republicans? Yeah, the attempt at creating a state religion in North Carolina failed but shouldn’t the fact that it happened give you pause?  Can you really have Republican lawmakers making insipid statements about rape? Can you really have Republican lawmakers casually using racial slurs?

If the Republican Party is your team then you’ve really got to ask yourself how long all of this can go on before your party is completely irrelevant.

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9 Apr
2013

Westboro Baptist Church and You

westboro baptist church

People tend to get pretty Manichean when it comes to the Westboro Baptist Church. Those people are evil, wild eyed fundamentalists. They’re self righteous. They’re just evil. They are despised by both the secular and the faithful.

I don’t know that I’ve ever thought it was that simple. Yeah. What they do is pretty distasteful and obnoxious and diabolically insane but they are people. They are like you. They are like you in the same way that every Nazi is like you. You can be misguided too. You can be unlucky enough to be born into a family that’s misguided as all hell and can do a fine job of steering you wrong for your entire life. I just finished reading Lauren Drain’s memoir of life inside the Westboro Baptist Church entitled Banished: Surviving My Years in The Westboro Baptist Church. Most of the people in WBC are members of Pastor Fred Phelps’ family. Lauren Drain’s family got involved when her father got the idea to do a documentary on the church and ended up joining the church. You read that right. He spent time with the Westboro Baptist Church and then decided to go native. She eventually got herself banished for having unauthorized contact with a member of the male gender. She ended up being dead to her family. They behaved as if her being banished forever didn’t faze them in the least. In reading Banished, I saw what disturbs me so deeply about fundamentalism.

Something is seriously wrong when doctrine always wins out over humanity. In the Westboro Baptist Church, the idea of serving an angry, vengeful God who cares only for the elect and who is killing people with IEDs and mass shootings left and right trumps empathy or compassion. It didn’t matter if someone was a member of the church from the beginning, if they got kicked out or they left that meant that they no longer mattered. The love you may have had for them didn’t matter. Family didn’t matter. All that mattered was an angry, vengeful God.

The sad hijinks of the Westboro Baptist Church must force us to take a look at ourselves. If our conservatism, vegetarianism, liberalism, Calvinism or any other precious idea of ours is more important than humanity or compassion or empathy then it’s pretty safe to say that we’ve resigned from the human race or are least in the process of filing the paperwork. People must trump all of that. Yes, I think it even has to trump whatever conception of a supreme being that we have at any given moment.

 

 

 

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8 Apr
2013

A Brief Lesson from The Dark Side of the Internet

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I tell off a racist on Reddit. There is a dark underbelly of racism on internet.

 

 

 

I’ve spent far too much time on the dark side of the internet. Part of my soul has to be missing. I’m not talking about porn. No. Nothing as fun or sticky.

Extremists. Racists. Neo-Nazis. People who dress up their racism in scientific language and call themselves race realists but everyone knows exactly what they are. You don’t even have to take a trip to the dark side of the internet to find them anymore. You can find them where the “normal” people play. You can find fat, bearded men and their badly lit videos on YouTube where they declare that the holocaust never happened and that Josef Mengle really wasn’t such a bad guy. You can find angry teenage autodidacts on Reddit posting articles about how race is strongly related to IQ and that the negro is sadly deficient in that area and that the Jew is doing all that the Jew can to keep that truth from getting out. I’ve watched this sort of thing closely. I guess it’s morbid curiosity. I guess it’s a want to see what ugliness looks like. I would see these people get support. I see them get pats on the back. I’d see any dissent that came their way get crushed. I’d see that and get pretty damn disheartened. I’d see all their angry, paranoid vomit and it would make the world just a bit uglier. Not a lot uglier but it definitely made it ugly enough to notice. I would start to think that there was a ton of hate and evil that lurked in the hearts of men and that some day they may get themselves a little bit of power.

I forgot something and I remember it whenever I emerge from my expeditions into the dark side of the internet. You’d do well to remember it too.

When you turn off the computer and go outside, the bastards are outvoted. Some things only win anymore on the dark side of the internet.

 

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5 Apr
2013

Employee Training Videos Gone Wrong

 

Employee training videos. I’d say employee training videos that try to be entertaining are a consequence of Adam and Eve’s ancient snack. The IRS went and spent $60,000 on a Star Trek themed employee training video starring actual government employees. The damn thing is a mess. It’s an orgy of awkward. The performances are wooden and devoid of any passion. It might be the Plan 9 From Outer Space of employee training videos. There seems to be a mix between original series and The Next Generation era uniforms going on which probably pissed off libertarian Trek nerds. Lots of people went apoplectic. “This is what’s wrong with the god damn government! They’re stuck on stupid!” was shouted by lots of people. No. That’s not what’s wrong with government. The problem with government is it’s very existence and the fact it’s owned by a bunch of rich, amoral assholes who think having Jesus Christ CEO on their bookshelf makes up for all the odious things they do. I will cease my maniacal laughter after typing that last sentence and get to the point. The point is employee training videos and other types of videos the workforce is forced to endure.

Most of us are forced to be at work. It’s bad enough that we’re held hostage by wages and benefits in this merciless economic system so there is just no need to insult us by trying to be cute in employee training videos. Anyone who laughs at such a training video has forfeited their soul. There is no one who sincerely laughs at “fun” employee training videos. Anyone who does laugh is doing so in the hopes that a manager hears them. A fake laugh to get in good with management is a disgusting assault upon the sanctity of laughter. The only absolution for such a sin is to sacrifice oneself to thwart an armed robbery. Don’t insult your workforce like that. Just give them a binder with the information. Do the training Montesorri style because everyone is a unique little snowflake. If they want to do a parody training video in their heads based on NYPD Blue or Gilligans Island or The Wire maybe then that’s fine. If they want to do some slam poetry then they can do that too. Let the individual spice it up themselves. Day dreaming is one of the only things that is getting them through the day anyway.

I’ve written previously of my time working at a major telecommunications company that shall remain nameless. It wasn’t so much employee training videos that got me down when I rode a desk over there. There were videos though that assaulted our senses. They were video seminars. They’d have the top officers in the company speak and they’d have outside speakers they’d hired to talk in detail about topics related to the business or to inspire. They brought in a blind guy who had climbed Mount Everest. That was supposed to inspire all of us. I wanted to cripple that guy by the end of it. He was taking his extraordinary experience and he was cheapening it by whoring it out at a shallow corporate event. It was a truly insulting metaphor. The job we did every single day was in no way at all like climbing Mount Everest. There is no way in hell any of us we’re that emotionally invested in what we did every single day. We were risking our lives though. No doubt about that. The sedentary nature of our work put us at risk for heart disease and there was quite a bit of depression I observed throughout the end of my tenure. We were at risk of a slow, miserable death. There was another guy. His schtick was being a corporate athlete. It was all about living a healthier life so that we could be productive employees and increase the CEO’s bank balance. They didn’t say anything about the CEO’s bank balance but that’s what it was about. They didn’t want us being healthy for our own sake. It was all about the company. How Soviet is that? We’re fond of talking about how we won the Cold War but I’m not so sure. There is nothing more collectivist and totalitarian than the American corporation.

The moral of the story is clear. Cut it out the damn employee training videos. Cut out all the damn videos.

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4 Apr
2013

Pat Robertson and The Noble Savages

 

Pat Robertson and the Noble Savages. Looks like I’ve come up with a great name for a rock band if it was 1955. Where the hell is Doc Brown?

Pat Robertson said something a little off. He always says something a little off. He’s the reason interns at People for The American Way will always have something to do. When he dies maybe they will contact his spirit with a ouija board and continue to report the things he says. Sometimes I’m not sure anyone really is listening to Pat Robertson other than those waiting for him to say something offensive. It stands to reason the people donating to his ministry are listening and they are the same people cutting checks for the war chests of politicians who want the votes of conservative Christians. Pat said something that made me think. It made me examine a theme I’ve heard throughout my entire life.

He said that miracles like lame people walking, blind people seeing and the dead rising happen in places like Africa because the people there didn’t go to Ivy League schools and they haven’t been inundated with skepticism and secularism. This makes me think that Africa to some people is just a continent full of magic negros. It’s a continent full of people closer to the earth because of their lack of material wealth and as a result of their blessed poverty all sorts of miraculous things happen. Why are they poor and naked and starving? To teach white people what they need to know. It isn’t just Africa. It’s every country perceived to be third world that has a significantly non-white population. I’ve watched so many people go to these countries. They come back with a dark tan gushing about how the people have nothing yet they are so incredibly happy and that their happiness probably had a lot to do with the fact that they had nothing. They declare that they learned a lot from the denizens of whatever dark country they went to then they post the pictures of their expedition to Facebook and then drive off in their hybrid to the evening service at their megachurch of choice and take notes on the sermon with their iPad manufactured by a depressed, overworked, suicidal FoxConn factory worker. People in these countries are little more than supporting characters in the drama of people in the first world getting closer to God, becoming more spiritual, getting perspective or whatever other ending you’d care to put in.

It’s weird. It’s offensive. Not that I’d ever claim to be some paragon of virtue but I hope I never say something like that even with all the dumb ideas and prejudice that float around in my head. You show a profound disrespect for people when you don’t allow them to be people. Pat and others who say things like “they’re so happy because they have nothing” or “they’re so close to god because they have nothing” are treating people not as people but as caricatures. They are romanticizing poverty when there is nothing at all romantic about it. We need to accept that the brown masses all over the world aren’t there just to teach us something. They aren’t props. They aren’t supporting characters. They aren’t magic negros or magic anything else. They are just people. Some of them are good people. Some of them are honest people. Some of them are people that you’d run over with your car. They are people just like you and me. The only thing that’s really different is circumstances. Let’s be done with the “the people have nothing and are so happy and close to god” thing. Let’s make up something else. We can do that, can’t we? I’m sure we can come up with something else and can say it as insincerely and condescendingly as the other thing.

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3 Apr
2013

The Latest Poll Says Your Neighbor Might be Crazy

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People love polls. They love them more than their mother if they can find one that shows them that millions of people share their diabolically insane view of reality. No one is truly alone. Sometimes I find this thought beautiful. There are other times though that I truly wish some people were alone. Sometimes I wish I was alone so I’d be free forever from polls and their interpretations.

A firm called Public Policy Polling decided that it would be pretty god damn hilarious to ask Americans what they believe about conspiracy theories. I’ve got a bit of a fascination with conspiracy theories. They’re damn good stories. I wish everyone thought that they were just damn good stories. Some people believe them. They waste a lot of time trying to wake people up to the Illuminati, the Jews, the Reptilians, the planned fake Second Coming of Christ, the mark of the beast, the truth that UFOs are really demonic entities and other such fantastic “truths” that they neglect all the practical ways they might help to build a better civilization that are right in front of them. They could get a library card. They could read some political theory. They could find out how the system works. They could find out the problem isn’t some “New World Order” but really the old world order where the very rich move pieces around the board. There really is no need for reptilians, Illuminati or occult sacrifices. It’s structural problems that we as human beings have the power to correct through reason and compassion. That’s the main issue I have with a conspiratorial view of reality. It gets people focused on chasing the fantastical rather than doing practical things to make a better world. If you’re busy re-watching hours and hours of news footage from the Sandy Hook massacre for proof it was staged then you aren’t helping out your neighbor who might be having a rough go of it. That’s sad. It makes our reality more mysterious than it really needs to be. It isn’t about waking up and seeing some sort of grand deception and being one of the few who can see it. We can help one another and make a slightly better world. We can be more skeptical if not outright disdainful of jingoism. We can continually ask our leaders tough questions about the structure of our society. We can decide once and for all that we have to ferociously guard the rights of everyone, especially those that we hate.

According to the poll, 28 percent believe that there is a New World Order attempting to establish a world wide totalitarian police state. 15 percent believe that the medical industry invents diseases. 5 percent believe that airplane contrails contain harmful chemicals that are being sprayed on the population for sinister purposes. 13 percent believe that Barack Obama is the Anti-Christ. I have to wonder what percentage of these people actually believes these things. Yes, 13 percent believe Obama is the Anti-Christ and 28 percent believe that there is a nefarious New World Order, but do they really believe these things? How does knowledge like that impact their lives on a daily basis? If you truly believe that we’re a year or two away from a hellish police state then how the hell do you keep going about your daily life? How do you go to work every day knowing that? Obama the Anti-Christ? A murderous New World Order? That’s pretty profound and earth shaking. If you can still go to work, go on dates, play video games, go to church, watch YouTube videos and all the other things normal people do then I have to question how much you truly believe that theory of yours. I’d have to think you’d be living off the grid in some armed camp in Montana with lots of MREs, gold bullion and other true believers getting ready to overthrow the government. I’ve spent an unhealthy amount of time arguing with conspiracy theorists in YouTube comments, Reddit and other online forums. There came an awkward moment where I realized that conspiracy theorists pretty much disappeared when I turned off my computer. I’ve encountered anti-fluoride campaigners and the disciples of Lyndon LaRouche on the street on very few occasions but I’ve never met an Alex Jones or a Mark Dice in real life. Are most conspiracy theorists playing a game like World of Warcraft or Call of Duty? Are people just pretending like they’re like Neo in The Matrix? Is it just another way people have found to escape the mundane reality of life? Is this type of misguided faux activism a way of expressing real frustration over injustice? These questions fascinate me. I guess it’s the guy who came to the conclusion that Reptilians rule the world, quit his job, started buying lots of guns and told no one at all about it is who you have to worry about.

The truth is out there. Just remember that if the truth you find would make a good movie plot then it’s probably not the truth.

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2 Apr
2013

The Sayings of PMD, Chapter One

Confucius_Tang_Dynasty

Sayings of PMD? I suppose you can consider this my own secular hadith. These sayings are my attempts at wisdom. They likely aren’t wisdom. They are very likely bullshit. They may be lies. They may be plagiarized. They may lead you down the wrong path but maybe they will not. That remote possibility might be why I’m bothering to write them down at all. Of course, my true motive might be that I want the alien archaeologists who find the remains of our civilization to believe that Delaneyism was some sort of major religion on earth. Maybe I’d be able to laugh about that somehow.

    1. Sometimes all that you can do is watch the circus. If you cannot watch the circus then do not watch the circus.
    2. If god or gods or the universe do not give you a reason then just make one up man. You probably won’t be wrong. Think twice about your reason if it involves a gun.
    3. I just talked to god and he told me that you’re wrong, that you’re an asshole and that he wants you to wear a funny hat every Thursday.
    4. There comes a moment in our lives where we cannot ignore the fact that we’re all on the same side.
    5. People talk about saving others. No one will ever be saved by what you preach if you have no respect deep down for the people you’re trying to save. Don’t say you love them if you don’t know them. Don’t cheapen that concept.
    6. There is a world outside of you. Live in it on occasion. Spending too much time inside yourself only makes you want whiskey or french fries or cheeseburgers or whatever it is you reach for to cope.
    7. You may be ugly but you’re not ugly to everyone. There is someone in the world who at some time has spanked it to you at bedtime.
    8. If you hate yourself, a boyfriend or girlfriend won’t fix that.
    9. Sometimes people are exactly where they need to be.
    10. There is no plot. There is no final boss. The game just goes on until you run out of lives.
    11. If profanity is all you have then fucking use it god damn it. Sometimes it’s the height of honesty.
    12. You could end up on welfare next week. The man or the woman that’s down doesn’t need you to remind them that they’re down.
    13. Truth you find in a crisis might cease to be truth after the crisis.
    14. Sometimes a drink or a hit might be exactly what a person needs at a particular point in time. That doesn’t mean that’s what they will always need.
    15. The earth shattering epiphany you have is probably snow on an old TV to everyone else. Don’t worry about it.
    16. Revise the ever living fuck out of every one of your conclusions.
    17. If those you despise become more to you than Christians, Jews, fags, gypsies and so on then you might cease to despise them.
    18. Tell someone you know exactly how ghosts work. Note the results.
    19. Mystery. Embrace it. Rub it all over you.
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1 Apr
2013

Doubt and The Resurrection

If I were to say there was an unholy trinity of people I believe do lots of harm, it’s likely that it would consist of Nancy Grace, Sheriff Joe Arpaio and Pastor Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church here in the unchurched jungle of Seattle, Washington. I dislike Mr. Driscoll’s public persona. I’ve written of him before. Forgive me if I write of him more. It disheartens me that he has so much influence over Christendom. I may not know anymore if I belong in Christendom but I surely know that Christendom has great influence in this country. It stands to reason that it may always be that way. America loves holiness or it loves the idea of holiness. Of course, this assumes that there is such a thing as holiness on earth and I am not at all sure that there is. Today, the day after the resurrection of Jesus is celebrated, I write of doubt. I write of the virtue of doubt. I write against false dichotomies. I was inspired to write this by a Facebook status update posted by Driscoll yesterday. You will find it below. Click to enlarge.

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Really? No one can remain neutral? No one can remain undecided? Nope. This is false. It’s a false dichotomy. A person can be legitimately undecided about whether Jesus Christ actually rose from the dead. This is different from outright rejection. It’s very likely that these words were well received by many members of Driscoll’s congregation. I find this sad since this statement is bereft of logic. It’s absolutism at its worst. Logic is not the reason why I am so bothered. It doesn’t seem to leave any room for doubt. Do you wake up some mornings and doubt the resurrection? If you’re human then you have to. You just have to. You may even believe it occurred but question its significance in the world that we live in today. Look at the savage inequality. Look at the prison-industrial complex. Look at the rampant materialism. Look at all the people who think bullets and Bibles belong together. You could look at the world we have and think the resurrection was just a divine magic trick that means very little to us lost in a jungle of wage slavery where we bleed for bills and toys we don’t need. I can already hear people saying, “Paul. You are too focused on the material world.” I know not of the world to come. I don’t know if there is a world to come. Some days I do know. Other days I don’t. What I do know is that I operate in the material world. I operate in a material world of joy and pain. I tend to think there is more beauty in operating in this world. I can’t conceive of eternity. I can’t conceive of infinity. I can conceive of now. Driscoll leaves no room for wrestling with something as earth shaking as a man rising from the dead. You must pick a side. Yeah. It’s quite possible God wants us to pick a side. I don’t know exactly what God wants. I’ve got no shortage of people telling me what God wants but I’m not sure that they know either.

I AM NOT SURE. I DO NOT KNOW. That’s what it comes down to for this guy. Maybe it comes down to that for you too. Maybe there is a god who is pissed off at me for not picking a side and maybe there isn’t. Driscoll treats these matters lightly. Matters like a god with a plan or a man rising from the dead are too important not to question and not to wrestle with. You can’t just abracadabra the mysteries of our existence away with absolutism. It’s just lazy. In a very real way, it denies our humanity. We’re humans. We’re inconsistent as hell. If you wake up one morning and doubt Jesus rose from the dead or doubt whether your significant other actually loves you or if you doubt whether your life has any meaning at all then have the courage to embrace that. Don’t hide behind muscular absolute statements.

In a world full of dogma, I’m daring you to be painfully human.

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29 Mar
2013

On Regret

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Sometimes cliches are all you have. Sometimes you’ve got no choice at all but to go with what you have. I don’t like cliches. It’s like admitting I couldn’t find a more clever or beautiful way to say something. There is a cliché I find so incredibly pernicious and offensive and wrong that it almost makes me want to do something that gets my unfinished angry manifesto published in the New York Times. It’s not so much a single cliché as it is a group of them surrounding the concept of regret.

I don’t regret anything.
I don’t regret anything in my past because it made me who I am today.
Regret nothing.
Et f****** cetera.

That’s awful. It’s ghastly. It’s ghoulish. It’s stupid. Ads for Axe body spray are more truthful than any of these statements or anything close to any of these statements. Someone who has no regrets has to be lying. Everyone regrets something. I regret things I did today. It’s possible that I regret things that I did 5 minutes ago. If someone really insists on saying to you they have no regrets then consider running very quickly in the other direction or punching them in the face with brass knuckles and then telling them you don’t regret it. Someone who has no regrets may be an awful person. No regrets? Do you not regret telling that girl you loved her when you really didn’t? Do you not regret urinating on that homeless man when you were drunk? Do you not regret calling your mother a malignant bitch and making her cry? As human beings we get innumerable opportunities to injure others and sometimes we make ‘em count like those opportunities were a free game of Pac-Man. I’ve heard more than one person talk about how they regret nothing in their past because all of those things made them who they are today. I suppose everyone is a unique little snowflake. It’s unnecessarily congratulatory. I’ve heard it come out of the mouths of people who should never congratulate themselves about who they’ve become. I won’t do that. Forget it. If someone wants to congratulate me for what I am then that’s fine. I won’t do it for myself. Don’t congratulate yourself. You’ve confused it with another word that ends in -ate.

Live as fully as possible. Regret things. Do lots of that. Just don’t drown yourself in it. A bit of regret in moderation is healthy. It’s a sign of wisdom. It’s a sign that you’ve had the courage to honestly examine your life. I suppose I should not give advice. I’m a 30 year old man who is wearing a Dr. Doom t-shirt as I write this. I write this in my underwear at nearly 3 AM. I’m a college dropout. I’ve kept a few therapists here and there employed. Not regretting anything is no virtue. The virtue is in acceptance. You accept the things that you’ve done and what you’ve experienced and that these things are unchangeable. If you’ve done wrong then you remember the wrong that you did and the pain that you caused and you resolve to do better in the future or perhaps the past should you ever stumble across a working time machine. If you’ve experienced happiness then do your best to find your way to more happiness. That is a more honest approach than declaring with bravado that you regret nothing in your life. I try to be humble and God knows I’ve plenty to be humble about but I wish that were everyone’s approach. I suppose it just wouldn’t look as good on a t-shirt or maybe it’s just easier to deal with regret by pretending not to have it. Don’t pretend. Don’t lie. Embrace it.

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