What I’m talking about here is how addictive the righteousness that comes from that condemnation is, and how we will apparently turn to any source we can find for it — even when that source is not evil or harmful or part of any world we exist in or understand.
A few years ago, a photo made the rounds. It was taken from the back, its subject unaware. He was a fat guy wearing a jeans-jacket, and on the back he had stenciled the name of his heavy metal band. It was a sloppy and amateurish job. The photo earned a lot of mocking comments in my circle, including from me. Ha ha, look at the fat guy with the rock-and-roll pretensions. Look at him. Looooook.
And then someone said, “I think he’s awesome. He’s found something he loves, and he thinks it’s great enough to share with the world. This guy is a hero.”
And… Oh, my God. That’s right. That’s exactly right. Who was I to judge, much less judge publicly? Maybe his music was terrible, but so what? It wasn’t for me. It was for him, and his friends, and his fans. Nobody was seeking my opinion, because it would be ill-informed and emotional, because those are the only opinions I could possibly have.
I was just pumping poison into the atmosphere, to feel good about myself, for another hit of self-righteousness. I was what was wrong, because I vomited out disapproval — could only vomit out disapproval — without intent or willingness to even attempt to understand.
We generally are where we are and who we are in life as the result of circumstance. It’s usually not the circumstance themselves that are the cause of our condition—it’s the choices we’ve made and the actions we’ve taken or not taken within the context of those circumstances that have created the “reality in which we live.”
I’m not casting blame, nor am I ignoring the fact there are incredible challenges, disadvantages, hardships, and even cruelty in the world. Some of the conditions and situations people of the world have had to endure exceed my capacity to imagine or perhaps even cope. But for most of us, living in relative safety, freedom, and within the confines of civilized societies, there’s more than simply “hope”, there’s the opportunity to create the life we can imagine.
“You cannot change your destination overnight, but you can change your direction overnight.”
“No one is a complete waste; they can always serve as a bad example.”
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.