Decency and Peace

Last night, I suspended my Facebook account, perhaps for the final time. Though I’ve ‘threatened’ to get off Facebook for quite some time, and have taken plenty of breaks, it feels different now. I’ve spent the last few days glued to the television and news feeds on Facebook, only to find more and more and more vitriol and venom and loathing and hate. And, on occasion, I was part of it. And I despise that I’ve allowed myself to become accustomed to that. Though it bothers me, deeply, I’ve grown accustomed to it. It has become part of the social threads that weave the fabric that encircles me, defining my shape; and I do not like the cloth that drapes my brain, telling the ugly story of who I am. I need time and space and distance to help me explore my own depths; or my own shallows. I need to breathe in purified air and listen to voices of humanists and philosophers and gentle souls who might guide me to a place of peace.

The problem of finding peace is this: the search for peace requires intellect. Intellect seems to have become a target for the scorn of people who neither have intellect nor any interest in acquiring it. And there it is again; even in my search for solace and peace, I am able to heap indignities on people who may simply not have the same capacity to understand as do I. Or, perhaps, maybe they have the capacity and it is I, instead, who lack the capacity for understanding their plight and their motives and their reasons to behave in ways I find appalling and oppressive.

In my view, if there is anything of value in religion it is this: religion (at its best) articulates goodness and defines behaviors that express goodness. The underlying stories that suggest that decency arises from one ore more deities matter far less than the expression of and the utterance of what constitutes, and defines the value of, decency.  Again, in my view, the far more crucial and fundamental message of religion is the requisite behaviors that constitute humanity, rather than the beliefs that predicate religion. When I hear evangelical preachers suggesting that the literal interpretation of the Bible is the only path to salvation, I feel a strong inclination to euthanize them. Not because I think they are bad people, but because I think they are grooming others to be bad people. I know that’s a nasty thought; but I’m trying to be honest here. And I understand, too, that my words across paragraphs argue against the precepts presented in others. I acknowledge that dichotomy of my thought processes. I wish I knew. I think I do. But I don’t.

Here, in a nutshell, are my beliefs about society and our responsibilities for humanity. You need not read them now; you have important things to do like feed yourself and clean yourself and sleep and walk miles and miles and miles into the woods. These beliefs might take you (and me, for that matter) years to comprehend. And comprehension may never come. But here goes:

Okay, I’ll pause to replay an edited post of one I made on another of my blogs years ago:

I suppose it’s possible that we’re all living lives of mass hysteria. Nothing is real. It’s all imagined. The daily drudgery, the surprise birthday parties, the unexpected attraction to happily married women who return the favor. It’s all fantasy, hiding the reality buried deep under the dry, gritty sand.

I listened tonight to “Take This Waltz,” a Leonard Cohen classic, and I wonder why it seems true and final.

Take this waltz, take this waltz, it’s yours now, it’s all that there is.
With its very own breath of brandy and death, dragging its tail in the sea.
My mouth on the dew of your thighs.
I yield to the flood of your beauty, my cheap violin and my cross.

The thing, the unexpected yet utterly unsurprising thing is that it’s all fantasy. It’s all artificial. It’s all built from plastic made especially to assuage the bewilderment of the ones among us who question the legitimacy of the corporate elite. We are products of our imaginations, either smooth and elegant or crusty and brittle, inelegant remnants of people who never should have been.

But here we are, back at the beginning. I am off Facebook for at least awhile to try to recapture whatever might be left of my sanity and my decency. The vitriol on Facebook makes me want to euthanize half the population (plus 50%), so following my Facebook friends is dangerously unhealthy.

Forgive this manic-depressive post; that’s who I am, dear reader. I’m not proud of it, but that’s the ugly beast beneath my geezer face. And long hair. And earring. Am I attempting to regain a youth I do not recall? That’s a question for another lifetime. Or maybe later in this one.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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3 Responses to Decency and Peace

  1. Thank you, Robin and Teresa.

  2. robin andrea says:

    I understand your need to cut ties with Facebook for a while. We have all learned a lot about each other on that crazy site, and probably more than we ever wanted to know. Going quiet is good. Heal your heart and mind. Take care and be well.

  3. Teresa says:

    Good first step. 😉

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