In the End, There’s Always Nudity

In yesterday’s post, I expressed my fiercely negative, deeply judgmental, extremely bigoted feelings about a woman I saw wearing a Trump sweatshirt. A while later, on Facebook, I came across a link to an article from a New York Times subscriber-only newsletter opinion piece by David French. The article, entitled “The Meaning of the Super Bowl ‘He Gets Us’ Ad,”  (I do not know whether the link will work for non-subscribers) is worth reading. Though I did not watch the Super Bowl—so did not see the ad—I have read a lot about it. Most of what I have seen echoes my bias against overtly evangelical, über-fundamentalist Christian messages. I assumed, of course, the collective condemnations were made by people who actually understood the intended message. French’s extremely thought-provoking article, though, gave me reason to re-examine my automatic rejection of the article. And it made me think about my bigotry in connection with the woman and her offensive (to me) sweatshirt. The messages in French’s article are too extensive and complex for me to summarize, but I found the following assertions from it especially provocative:

“It’s one thing to possess the courage to say what you believe, but it takes immeasurably more courage to truly love people you’re often told to hate — even and especially if they don’t love you back. There is nothing distinctive about boldly declaring your beliefs. Many people do that. But how many people love their enemies?

That’s what the Super Bowl ad is communicating. It’s not saying there’s no difference between the cop and the young Black man or between the oil rig worker and the climate activist — or that they shouldn’t speak about their differences. It’s saying something far more radical and valuable: I can love you and serve you even when I disagree with you.”

Though French and I have enormously different beliefs and backgrounds, I found myself in substantial agreement with most of what he wrote in his opinion piece. That surprises me, especially in light of one of the ways in which he describes himself:

“I’m an evangelical conservative who believes strongly in a classical liberal, pluralistic vision of American democracy, in which people with deep religious, cultural, and moral differences can live and work together and enjoy equal legal protection and shared cultural tolerance. In both my personal and professional life I strive to live up to the high ideals of Micah 6:8 — to act justly, to love kindness, and to walk humbly before God.”

Now, I wonder whether the sweatshirt-wearing woman and I could jointly embrace French’s message and engage, dispassionately, with one another? And love one another?! I am not sure whether I am a sufficiently decent human being to try.


Nobody realizes that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal.

~ Albert Camus ~


We tend to defend our intellectual flaws with faulty justifications. We would rather not acknowledge even the possibility that our opinions could have unsound bases. Our egos are largely responsible for our unwillingness to allow ourselves to question our own points of view. Because, “what if my position is actually invalid?” “What if?” In our convoluted reasoning, we seem to believe accepting that we might be wrong equates to an admission of an embarrassing imperfection. And an embarrassing imperfection is…embarrassing. Shameful. A heinous flaw from which we can never fully recover in the eyes of those who judge us. Or so we believe.

When I say “we” and “our,” of course, I mean “I” and “my.” Openly acknowledging imperfections can be extremely hard. It’s easier and less painful to place oneself in the company of other, equally imperfect, people.


I hope today will be as close to “normal” as possible. Already, though, I know it won’t be quite the normal I want; I have an appointment to see a dermatological nurse about an ugly red rash behind my right knee. A week or so ago, I remember fiercely scratching a maddening itch there. That, I am sure, was a mistake. Despite using Neosporin, washing the area regularly, praying to the benevolent Skin Gods (not really), etc., the “rash” seems to have gotten worse. Aside from that matter, I hope everything else will be “normal.” No weakness, fatigue, sudden need to nap for hours, exhaustion, etc., etc. Just “normal.” But I still will try to avoid crowds (but that’s pretty normal for me, anyway). I hope for a day that is not defined entirely by medical considerations and related matters.


Let me close this post by expressing my support for removing the stigma associated with public nudity. Clothes can be so damn confining. The naked human form, no matter its condition, is natural; we should not, in my opinion, treat it as if it were a hideous monster we must hide from view.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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2 Responses to In the End, There’s Always Nudity

  1. David, I will avoid those woods during my hikes, as you request…but even that sight probably would not change my mind! 😉

  2. David Legan says:

    THAT is one hell of a last paragraph. Trump…intolerance…Camus…Superbowl ads… Micah…NUDITY! Please do not hike through the woods behind my home…you might witness a sight around the hot tub that changes your attitude!

    All the best.

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