I was sitting outside my apartment building in Motta Sant’ Anastasia, Sicily, in my battered blue Beemer with splotches of red primer all over it. You don’t see that in the U.S. People tend to take care of their BMWs. But I was in Sicily and battered Beemers were common place. I’d just gotten back from my Psychology college class I was taking on base and was gathering my stuff. When suddenly…
There was a kid at my window, screaming at me in Italian, and pointing a sawed off, double barreled shotgun at my head. Another waited on a moped.
Well, they took the car. And my school books, which caused a problem since I had a test coming up and the teacher didn’t care that the carjackers stole my textbooks.
It’s a Lot
The carjacking was just one thing in a long list of crap I’ve had to deal with in my life. Heck, since the day I was born. My dad thought children could be trained like dogs (he was an MP, K-9). You know, kennel them, where they behave and be quiet, until you want to work with them. I’m pretty sure I spent my first two years sitting quietly in a playpen. I don’t remember it. My family members have been slowly feeding me information.
Let’s see, I’ve been carjacked, kidnapped 3 times, had to deal with guns twice, physically and emotionally abused on multiple occasions, attacked by a teacher and his students, and had to deal with incompetent managers at various jobs.
The community I’ve been slowly backing away from has taken to bullying and banishing community members.
And a homeless woman thought it was appropriate to stop me on the street to get after me about having beef on my beef taco salad. She pointed to herself as an example of someone who doesn’t eat beef.
I can’t help wondering, where do all of these people get off?
For the first 40 years of my life, I wore blinders. I was very egocentric and could only see other people’s outsides. I believed that if only I could be healthy and stable, I’d be a healthy, stable, sane person.
Like everyone else.
It was a wonderful dream! Something I could move towards. An ideal that I could, if not completely achieve, have at least some success. I’m the damaged one moving towards “everyone else”. It’s actionable.
I had no idea what the truth actually was…
Taking Off The Blinders
I joined a community when I was 41, and it was there that I started paying more attention to people, not just their outsides. I became much more present with people. I was able to empathize. To sympathize.
I found out that their outsides usually don’t match their insides.
I realized that everyone has their issues, there are no exceptions. I’ve heard people say to others “I wish I had your problems.” No, you don’t. You don’t know the impact of their issues is. A person’s issues are a part of a whole system of a person. You can’t just cherry pick the “problems”, you get the whole thing.
Then I realized that all of these people I looked up to, who I wanted to be more like, are all crazy as hell. My eyes are open. I see all the mean and nasty crap people put each other through. And they justify it! I both understand and not understand how it could be this way. (I’m an avid reader)
I’m the sane person.
I’m the sane person surrounded by crazies. This is the scariest thing I’ve ever realized. Why? BECAUSE I’M NOT SANE. I have bi-polar disorder with a nice helping of PTSD along with a history of violence, abuse and neglect. I’m supposed to be the damaged one! I’m supposed to be the one to move toward an ideal. To strive to become a better person.
And I have no role models.
I feel like I know right from wrong. I have a strong moral code that I hold fast to. I believe in respect, inspired leadership, fairness, my right to be myself, my right to use my voice, among other things. I believe that bullying, harassment, and attacking people are wrong. That good management inspires rather than lords it over the people.
I believe these things. I feel it in my gut and in my soul.
The problem is that the people who are going against my moral code also believe they are doing the right thing. Or they have the right to do the thing, whatever it is.
I say to myself, “Self, these people are deluded. If they understood what I do, they would understand that what they are doing is wrong.”
But, if I’m honest with myself, I also have to question myself. Maybe I’m the one who is deluded. Maybe violence, attacking, bullying and harassing are morally correct. So many people believe it and engage in it.
It is at least possible that my thinking is flawed.
Maybe it’s in our highest good to have a dog-eat-dog world. Where everyone is out for themselves. Where people amass power and attack anyone who threatens them. Where any action is moral if you can find a way to justify it.
That’s the way it is now.
I don’t believe it. I believe that I’m right and the majority is wrong. That it’s just a bunch of bad group dynamics that lets this behavior continue. That I need to have the strength to remain true to my own integrity.
But what if I’m wrong?
Good vs. Evil
I believe that humans are infinite critters. That we all have the capacity for great good and great evil. It’s not our thoughts that make us good or evil, it’s our actions. I might have murderous thoughts toward that teacher and his assistant who attacked me, but I don’t act on them. I have self-control and kidnapping the assistant and torturing her just isn’t something that I would choose to do. (Although I am working on a short film script. I can do anything I want there.)
The question of whether my moral code is right or not has brought my capacity for great evil forward. That part of me asks the question: “If the majority of people are not trying to be better people, in the way you have defined it, why are you still trying? Maybe it’s time to let go of that and revel in other parts of yourself.”
I find it highly compelling. I am an infinite critter and I am aware of those parts of myself. I own them. I acknowledge them. I love them.
It’s my opinion that when Heath Ledger played the Joker, he tapped into his dark side. He saw that part of himself, was compelled, became afraid that he was that person, and could not tolerate it. His own moral code couldn’t live with it.
I don’t have that problem. I know it’s my actions that make me who I am, not the infinite Universe of all possibilities running through me.
I choose my own actions…
I have this little Tom Ellis from “Lucifer” on one shoulder whispering in my ear to stay the course. His evil twin is on the other shoulder telling me I should give into my dark desires. After all, if I wanted to be good I wouldn’t have these desires.
Where’s the Moderate Lucifer? Why isn’t he beating on my head giving me ideas and advice I can actually believe?
Oh, that’s right, moderation doesn’t sell…
I don’t have an answer yet. I suspect that this is the next step of my own growth, exploring that answer. Exploring it in the face of society today. No wonder I feel so lonely. But I am willing…
The kids, who stole my car and scared the daylights out of me, robbed a bank in Palermo using my car as the getaway car. Then they abandoned it on a hill in Piano Tavola after setting fire to it. The car was torched with the exception of a partial license plate that the Carabinieri used to find me.
They made me pay a fine. The hits just keep coming…