nolongerinbetween

I hated him when I was a child. The Oedipus complex might be just a crappy theory but in my case it sort of fitted right: I wanted him out of the picture. I wanted the abusive progenitor to leave. I was anxious when he was around and relaxed when he was away at work. Heaven for me was a place where I could be only with my mum and my siblings, away from his intrusion and abuse. No father at all was better than a lousy father. I hated his strength and the power he had over our lives. I owe him my incessant obsession with injustice and ethics.

Later in life, I got to love him. At some point, like in a videogame, he lost his magical powers. He became weak, diminished, shrunk, beatable. The mighty Samson morphed into an oldster. His reign was over. In addition to him getting old, something else happened. I also got older and came to realize I am no saint either. Despite my attempts to be totally different from him and not forge myself in his image I found out I could be abusive and tyrannical as well. I can be my father. His convoluted moral DNA runs through my veins. This didn’t change or excuse his parental failures, but it changed my perspective. He was finally relatable and lovable. He was finally just another troubled soul failing to do right. He was finally a good father. The prodigal father came back home and reconciled with his son. And then he died. He finally got out of the picture. The circle is now complete.

Happy Birthday dad and rest in peace. You’ll be dearly missed.

God doesn’t reveal himself to us. When you are a child and you have no concept of a god, he doesn’t introduce himself to you from a burning bush or a whisper in your dream. There’s no thunder, no lightning, no rapture, no vision, no tongues of fire, no doves, no pillars of cloud guiding you, no descent from Heaven or chorus of angels at your confirmation ceremony. God doesn’t deliver himself to you, he is delivered to you by your culture and community where you grow up. And more than anything, God is given to you by your parents. As a child you don’t have a direct access to God but through an intercession. Your parents stand between you and him. In the absence of any epiphany, they have to speak for him, and few parents realize what a huge responsibility that is. Few parents understand what’s at stake when they pass on their religious understanding to their offspring. When your child embraces or rejects God they don’t embrace or reject God but your version of it. They react to an image of him. They react to your projection. Your understanding of God facilitates or obstruct their access to God.

I too got the first idea of God planted in my head by my dad and I struggled with that version my entire life. In our home, he was the religious patriarch, responsible for our catechetical instruction and the version of God that was spoon-fed to me was a mere caricature. Half based on the biblical lore and half based on his limited understanding. Half monster and half angel. It took me a while to realize that I found myself in a sort of a straw man situation. Since our initiation into divine is done by proxy not by God himself, we can end up addressing or fighting not the real God, like Jacob, but a defected replica of him. Whether you eventually accept his dominion or reject it is neither here nor there, but you have to make sure you do this to the most accurate description of him. As far as I am concerned, I ended up questioning any description of God predicated on biblical understanding. And since I used to blame my dad for poisoning the Christian well for me and for being a stumbling block on my path to faith, I should now let him off the hook and forgive him for his poor delivery of God. In all fairness, it wouldn’t have made a difference. Any version would have missed the mark. He can now die in peace, without any sense of failure for not delivering the Almighty God to his son. One less sin to atone for will hopefully make his already horrendous transition to eternal demise easier.

At the first sign of intellectual dishonesty when talking to someone just run. Run like your life depends on it. I learned this lesson the hard way, after allowing too many people to push my buttons and drive me insane with their disingenuity. No more. The age of martyrdom is over. If you think they actually lack depth not honesty, then you can carry on and hope for the best. At the end of the day, we can all be stupid at times and we could do with some help to overcome our blindness and limitation. But if it’s a clear case of dishonesty and lack of integrity then do not waste your breath. Cut them loose.

My zero-tolerance approach is based on this understanding. The statements contained in a back-and-forth exchange with someone vary in difficulty and complexity. We could say they range on a scale from 1 to 10, where 1 is simple and 10 complex.

If you don’t find common ground on something complicated sitting at the top of the scale that is perfectly understandable. At the top you’ll find competing truths, multifaceted realities, complex theories, conjectures, opinions, value judgements, predictions etc There is enough room to entertain different opinions. Exempli gratia. One might hold the opinion that the Swedish social democracy is better suited to make people happy than the American capitalist system, while someone else might think the opposite. One might think religion does more damage than brings benefits and we should break free from its grip while someone else believes it’s beneficial for our society and we should try hard to preserve it. One might think marriage is a religious institution sanctioned by God and so allowing gay people to marry would be a violation of his design, while someone else might think marriage is just a civil institution, a mundane architecture and so subject to change, if we decide to go that way. One might think that we need to do something radical to stop the global warming, even at the expense of our welfare, while someone else might think our human race can eventually adapt to the challenges and changes ahead of us, so any drastic measures would be unwise. These are competing truths. They are all legitimate to some extent. Even if they are eventually wrong, they are not straight forward. Given their complexity one can entertain them without causing an uproar.

At the bottom of our scale though are simple statements, hard facts, small bits of information that cannot be refuted. Inferential bricks. Simple atoms that cannot be broken down further. Paris is the capital of France. The Earth is not flat. The first crewed mission to land on the Moon was American. This is not a pipe. Trump is a patent liar. Rape is morally wrong. The glass on the table is red. Biden’s withdrawal plan from Afghanistan was a mess. Oil is thicker than water. While Ebola kills more than 60% of its victims and Covid-19 kills less than 4%, the latter is trickier because it doesn’t usually kill the hosts and so allows the virus to circulate undetected and spread across the world with greater impact. Lies are predicated on intention. Corelation is not causation. Kidnapping people and turning them into slaves is morally reprehensible. Smoking can cause lung cancer. It’s raining. Luther was profoundly anti-Semitic. There are more right-handed people than left-handed. etc

Now. In these simple cases, there’s no room for disagreement, for alternative facts, for competing truths. No let’s-agree-to-disagree crap. No grey area. These are not controversial issues but self-evident truths or truths where general consensus is well established. If you happen to come across someone with whom you don’t have a common understanding at the bottom end of our scale, where things are simple and non-controversial, then you should leave. It’s either stupidity or intellectual dishonesty and you are just wasting your time. If you don’t have a shared reality for simple unequivocal things there’s no chance you will find common ground for the more complex ones. Distorting simple realities should be off limits. If he says the Earth is flat, Trump is not a pathological liar and the chair is a lamp leave him be in his surreal distorted world. Don’t engange him in conversation any further. You won’t be able to reason with him no matter how hard you try and you’ll end up banging your head against the walls. Just run away and save your sanity. Protect yourself from the violence that comes from pride, stubbornness, and intellectual dishonesty. Protect yourself from insolence and inferential abuse.

How do you talk to a deluded individual? How do you get inside his brain and pop his narrative bubble? How do you cure his blindness? How do you deprogramme his tunnel vision? When someone is intellectually disingenuous at least there is a break in his defence since deep down he knows he is in the wrong and that he acts in bad faith. So playing the morality card against him might push him back on the path of truth. But someone deluded is not necessarily disingenuous no matter how insane his narrative might seem to us. He believes his falsehoods so, technically speaking, he is not lying and he is acting in good faith. If you listen to these guys storming the Capitol you can be surprised by their conviction that they are doing the right thing and that they are on a mission to save their country. They are genuine in their patriotic insanity. They are violent and murderous but they think they are on the right side of history. Like any entitled crusader. So how do you reach them? How can you make them snap out of their delusion? How do you bridge two minds that don’t share the same reality? And just because they truly believe in their deluded reality does it mean they are absolved of all blame and responsibility? I don’t think so. The road to delusion is a long journey made up of small moments of concession, disingenuity, downplaying, indulging, covering up, looking the other way etc that finally added up. Trump didn’t just happen. He didn’t force himself on us. He got there because some people put him there. He couldn’t keep going without his followers and his enablers turning a blind eye to his insanity at every step. Delusion might be an excuse when the reality you see is what you genuinely perceive as reality through the tainted lens on your eyes. But the lens didn’t get there without your consent.

The refusal of the Republican Party to investigate and condemn the attack of their main democratic institution speaks volumes of their true identity. Underplaying the American Reichstag moment is a national disgrace of historic proportions. To witness firsthand that turmoil and then to claim there was no insurrection but a peaceful protest is beyond belief. To listen to Donald Trump orchestrating the coup and then blaming Nancy Pelosi for it is surreal. To watch the violent uprising unfold in front of your very eyes and then to listen to Donald Trump praising the rioters as if they were some hippies at a Love Fest: “There was such LOVE at that rally. They were PEACEFUL people, these were great people, the crowd was unbelievable and I mentioned the word ‘love.’ The love is in the air, I’ve never seen anything like it.” is almost comical. How on earth can someone listen to any of these without snapping out of their deluded reality? How can someone witness this level of scripted, deliberate brutality and still pretend it was just a peaceful protest that got out of hand? Perception doesn’t just happen to you. You might not have a full control over it but some of your perception is maintained clean and healthy at your will. Delusion is a lame excuse and if you suffer from it you are responsible for it. There’s no such thing as innocent delusion.

The silence of the international community is deafening. The lack of outrage and moral indignation over what’s happening in Israel these days is appalling. We take action on the ethnic cleansing of Uighur in Xinjiang but not on the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in Israel. We impose sanctions for the occupation of Crimea but not for the occupation of Palestine. Since 1967 we turn a blind eye to persecution, oppression, arbitrary detentions, deportation, house demolition, unfair trials in courts, forced evictions of Palestinian families from their homes replaced with illegal settlements, ethnic cleansing, a brutal siege of what’s became the largest open-air prison on earth – Gaza, restrictions of their freedom of movement, a disproportionate response by the occupiers to the violence of the occupied, inhumane and humiliating treatement (skunk water anyone?), constant harassment, administrative abuse and bullying at the hands of settlers, police, army, local authorities, government in order to make their life unbearable and so to drive them out, and ultimately what is an overt national project of colonization and an apartheid regime in the West Bank. Israel’s breaching of international and humanitarian laws and of previous agreements they signed is done with impunity and with the tacit consent of the West. I might sound racially prejudiced, if not downright anti-semite, but nowadays I wouldn’t trust a Jew’s words even if he would tell me the water is wet or that one plus one equals two. We build museums and memorials about the Holocaust in order to raise awareness and not to repeat the past. And, lo and behold, it’s exactly what we are doing. We look, once again, the other way when these atrocities take place. The notion that we allowed the oppressed to turn into oppressor is surreal. I can’t think of anything more disturbing than to see someone who suffered the horrors of Holocaust inflicting them on other people. Turning Gaza into a cvasi concentration camp. Abusing power with impunity. Dehumanizing innocent people while mob lynching them. Their moral standing is deeply dented and they now need themselves to learn about Shoah. How fucked up is that?

And I’m sick and tired of people defending Israel’s position by playing Mercutio’s line over and over: “a plague on both your houses”. The “both sides are to blame” game. The incessant whataboutism. None of this would have happened without the brutal attack of the Israeli Police on Palestinian worshippers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque. We can keep both sides accountable for their wrongdoings and trespassings but it’s not like the Montague and Capulet families stand on an equal footing in this eternal feud. Let’s not forget the root issue which is Occupation. One side is the occupier and the other side is occupied. The failure of our western civilization to be indignant over Israeli (supposedly temporary) military occupation and oppressing the Palestinian people and the fact that Israel can get away with anything is sickening. 

We all lie. Even when we try to lead an otherwise ethical life. We lie because truth can compete at times with other virtue, virtue that we think is more important and should override truth.

But we also lie about our lie. We lie to ourselves about the reasons why we take liberties with truth. Because, if we are to be honest with ourselves, lying is, for the most part, self-serving and this higher virtue that supersedes truth, this greater good we pretend to seek through our lying, do not exist. Even when we do protect other people from a damaging truth it’s hard to disentangle it from protecting ourselves from it.

Augustin and Kant didn’t think virtues can compete and be in conflict with one another. Virtues can be opposed only to vices not to other virtues. Thus a “civil war” amongst virtues would be nonsensical. According to them, truth is an absolute, telling the truth at all times, unconditionally is a categorical imperative and lying is never to be justified. No matter how dreadful the consequences. Lying in order to save someone’s life is bad. Telling the truth that results in someone’s death is good. When you make a statement, your only concern should be the correspondence between reality and your utterance. When you act your only concern should be fulfilling your duty. Abraham-like. Ignore the consequences. You are not responsible for them. God is. If your telling the truth ruins someone’s life it’s on God not on you.

In the dispute between these two ethical theories, consequentialism and deontology, as far as truth is concerned, I tend to be a consequentialist. Screw Kant. I can’t carry out a duty blindly. If I can save my Jewish neighbour from dying at the hands of Nazis, by lying to them, I will do it wholeheartedly. I hate lies but I am no purist whatsoever. Telling always the truth, with complete disregard for consequences, is not something I can easily relate to.

Given all these I should have some tolerance for falsehoods when I am lied to. And I do. I loathe lies and being lied to, but I can tolerate it to some extent. As they surely do mine. What I cannot tolerate is flat-out lies and sloppiness in their lying. It does matter to me how you lie to me. Because in the way you lie to me you reveal what you ultimately think of me. You insult my intelligence, or you take note of it. An obvious, careless, flat-out lie is offensive, and thus it triggers me, while a plausible one that can pe passed off as truth is not. And given the crappy unflattering lies and explanatory nonsense I had to listen to over the years from friends, boyfriends, relatives etc I am astonished at their low opinion of me. Of course, there’s always the possibility that they don’t care at all about how I think and how I perceive their deceit or they just overestimate their chances to get away with it. In either case the outcome is grim and appalling.

We all have a built-in bullshit detector after thousands of years of evolution as social creatures. But, like with everything else in life, we are not equally endowed. Some people have a bigger BS detection tool than others. By and large the smarter you are the bigger your tool – the more able you are to detect lies, deception, dishonesty, manipulation, rationalization, fraud. The smarter you are the more difficult is for you to be bullshitted on. But that’s not necessarily a good thing. And in some ways the smarter you are the more crap you have to put up with. Because while for some people the crap thrown at them will fly under their radar and they will be oblivious to it, for you, the detector will go off too much, too often. And that’s enough to make your life miserable. As a smart guy you don’t have the luxury of blissful ignorance when lied to. And we all need to NOT know we are lied to if we want to lead good social lives. Oblivion to people’s lies is a key requirement for our peace of mind and happiness. Limited insight is actually good for the health of our relationships. The need for opacity and shades is embedded in the fabric of our societies and complete transparency would be catastrophic. Being smart and highly perceptive then and seeing through people’s lies is not an asset but a social disability and detrimental to your happiness.

Being smart sucks. The savvy given to you at birth is a poisonous gift. You can no longer be lied to unknowingly. You can no longer see people how they want to be seen. The safe space between you and them where pretence can happen is shattered. Brace yourself for the misery of knowing too much. Brace yourself for the misery of seeing people for who they truly are. Brace yourself for unhapiness.

Take a look around and tell me what you see. Both in your vicinity and further away, beyond the limits of your vision. Most likely you will tell me you see the reality and the world in which we all live. But that would not be true. It might be the reality YOU see and the world in which YOU experience your life. But not necessarily the world other people see and live in. One of the most puzzling, albeit simplistic, revelations you have as a smart person is that we don’t necessarily share the same reality and that we take for granted the notion of a shared reality. We might live in the same physical world, but it doesn’t follow that our perceived realities overlap a great deal. They can be pretty much disjoint one from another. Our world is a collection of physical objects, non-physical objects, events, ideas, rules, principles, beliefs, facts etc to which we relate through our own perception and understanding. It goes without saying that our subjective representation of the world will never match the objective world and that our subjective realities will never overlap completely. Where one individual will see a red flower another one will see a red… ish one. But the departure from our master reality goes deeper than this. Some individuals will see a blue flower. Some will see a yellow one. Some will see a different thing altogether and some will see nothing at all. How can you reconcile all these individual perspectives? If most of what you see is radically different from what other people see, then you don’t share the same reality. Your reality is not theirs and their reality is not yours. You live in different worlds that hardly intersect. In the same way that Don Quixote who sees a dragon and Sancho Panza who sees a windmill, while looking at the same thing, live practically in two different worlds. We might have a single physical world but if the images returned by your retina while looking at it are completely at odds with what other people see then you don’t have a shared reality but something more akin to parallel universes.

Exempli gratia.

– Take a look at this man battering his wife because she embarrassed him in public. What you see is abuse. But what the husband sees, and with him some other people that condone his behaviour, is justice. You see cruelty, they see entitlement. You see deviance, they see a male’s birth right. You don’t share the same reality. You live in alternate universes, linked only by the same physical world.

– Take a look at these kids throwing a frightened dog from the roof of a ten-storey building. Then killing another dog by hanging him on a tree while streaming their endeavour live on social media and bragging about it. These are real stories. What you see is brutality. What they see is mere fun. You don’t share the same reality.

– Take a look at Trump’s hardcore fans who would give their life for him. What they see in Trump is an honest, genuine, selfless and efficient ruler while what you see is a deranged pathological liar, a duplicitous and lousy leader who perverts any common sense. You don’t share the same reality.

– Take a look at Brexit. What Brexiteers see is a road to make Britain, once again, a sovereign and independent country, freed from the European dictatorship. What you see is a disoriented people, falling prey to populism and nationalist manipulation, discontent with their political establishment and blaming someone else for their problems. You don’t share the same reality.

– Take a look at these religious lunatics who pretend they received words from God about Trump’s winning a second presidential mandate. What you see is a bunch of impostors lying through their teeth to their confused and blind followers. What they see is the Almighty God Himself, Creator of Heaven and Earth, registering for the Republican Party and meddling in their presidential election while singing the American anthem. God bless America. You don’t share the same reality.

– Take a look at these police officers flexing their muscles in front of some black people for no good reason. What you see is racial profiling while what they see is a legitimate move to keep people, regardless of their colour, in check. You don’t share the same reality.

– Take a look at this crowd of people stoning to death a young woman for the only crime of loving someone deemed inappropriate by her family in Middle East. What they see is justice met and honour restored while what you see is a horrible murder that has nothing to do with justice and honour. You don’t share the same reality.

And so on and so forth. With each object, tangible or nontangible, that can be found in our world, our realities can multiply accordingly and with it the odds they may not overlap.

Someone could argue that my pessimistic view is far-fetched and that there might be some truth in the idea of realities not overlapping when we relate to people from other cultures, completely different from us, people from other distant places, backgrounds, traditions, ideologies but not when we relate to our own circle of friends or family living next to us. But that wouldn’t be totally true. Because proximity tells a lie. Proximity can render a false sense of togetherness and shared reality. You might be surrounded by close people and yet feel pretty lonely. You might be in a crowd surrounded by thousands of people but not live in the same reality with them. You might be home, chilling, sitting comfortably on a sofa next to your loving spouse and family but they might as well live in a different country or an alternate universe. If what they see doesn’t come even remotely close to what you see, then you don’t have much of a shared reality. Proximity doesn’t guarantee that you see the same things and have the same representation of our world while looking at it.

Now. This was a rather long and boring introduction to my actual topic of interest which is loneliness. Loneliness is, to some extent, the result of lack of social contact and of quality bonding. But a great deal of it comes not from lack of social connections but from lack of shared reality. You feel lonely when, talking and relating to people, you realize you are in this reality of yours on your own. You wake up to the fact that your reality hardly overlaps their reality, since what you see is constantly different from what they see. You realize that what removes this sense of loneliness successfully is not their physical proximity and the social contact but the common ground you find with them, the shared reality. This is why I always looked unapologetically for similarity and sameness. This is why I was always drawn more to people who think like me and I always stated it upfront. Because I knew there’s no point in looking for someone different since that is guaranteed anyway. It’s the default position. I don’t look for people who think radically different from me not because I dislike being challenged and I want to live in an echo chamber bubble where confirmation bias rules. When you cross a desert you don’t look for a sunny spot, you have plenty of that already. You look for a shaded place. The difficulty is not with finding people with different worldviews but with finding people where your realities overlap enough so that your connection becomes meaningful.

C.S. Lewis got it right. “What draws people to be friends is that they see the same truth. They share it.”  //Friendship … is born at the moment when one man says to another “What! You too? I thought that no one but myself . . .” //Friendship arises out of mere Companionship when two or more of the companions discover that they have in common some insight or interest or even taste which the others do not share and which, till that moment, each believed to be his own unique treasure (or burden). The typical expression of opening Friendship would be something like, “What? You too? I thought I was the only one.”

When you look for friends you are not looking only for companionship, affection and a meaningful bonding. The other drive that is behind our looking for friends is a strong need to remove this sense of loneliness that comes from “being the only one” that sees things in a specific way. What you look for in friendship is shared reality. Someone that will inhabit the same world.

Of course, you won’t find two individuals who see things in the same way in every respect. That’s understandable. The ideal is to find people with whom your realities overlap a great deal, people with whom you can overcome the sense of loneliness that comes from your own reading of the world. And here is the point where smart people are put at a disadvantage and where intelligence is not an asset but a liability. The simpler you are the easier is to find people who share the same reality with you. Conversely, the smarter you are the harder is to find them. Having a sharper look and a sharper mind makes you see things better and in ways others cannot. Your realities are less likely to overlap then. The numbers are against you. There are fewer people at the top of the pyramid than at the base. The dice are loaded against you. The race to overcome loneliness is fixed. The smarter you are the more likely is to be lonely and unable to find good matches for you, people who would have the same understanding like you. On a side note, from this perspective, Jesus must have been one of the loneliest men on Earth. What he saw bore no resemblance to what people saw. But at least he knew how to put some clay and spittle on people’s eyes to make them see what he saw and draw them to his world. He was exceptional in the way he knew how to build bridges between our disconnected worlds, between our mundane reading of the world and his.spiritual reading. We don’t. We are not Jesus. We are Sancho Panza trying to reach Don Quixote and bring him to his senses. Or even better, the other way around.

Being smart sucks. The smarter you are the less shared reality you have with people. The less overlapping realities. Brace yourself for living in a Tower of Babel where your reaching out is for the most part an exercise in futility. Brace yourself for loneliness.

When she died she took with her what was left of my faith. For me, God died at the same time she died, not on a cross but on a blanket, covered in metastases and disfigured by cancer. It’s not that her painful death engendered a crisis of faith in me. I had it all along since I entered adulthood. I had given up already on His Church by the time I finished University and then at a later point I gave up on the inerrancy of His Scriptures. My apostasy was bound to happen sooner or later. Her death just broke the last shackle of faith and pushed me to admit I no longer believed in God. In losing her, I lost, in one go, not one but two pillars of my existence. One death, two coffins.

*

In some ways losing my faith should give me a wicked sense of satisfaction. One thing that shocked me after she died was just how well we are equipped to move on and adjust to someone’s disappearance. Thousands of years of evolution installed in me a coping mechanism stronger than my pain. I didn’t go out on the streets howling like a lunatic. I didn’t tear off my clothes out of despair like our ancient ancestors. I didn’t stop eating, sleeping, laughing, fucking, breathing. I bottled up my grief. I was devastated but I was functional. The fact that we can carry on is a disgrace to me. The fact that we survive and get to keep our sanity over the death of our loved ones sickens me. So, even though her death was not the source of my crisis of faith at least she managed to shake off the last vestiges of belief in me. That counts for something. 

*

Mourning two deaths instead of one might make things harder. I have no idea. It’s not like I had to deal with death in the past too much so I’m no expert in what level of bereavement is considered normal and sane. But what surely makes things worse is the way in which the two deaths are connected. His death puts her death in a different perspective. His death makes her death definitive and real. If you believe in God, death is an illusion. If you don’t everything else but death is an illusion. Death is the only reality we have. The crutch of hope vanished and so the despair that comes with it is unbearable.

*

I am told that I would end up in an asylum if I keep going on like this, if I won’t put a lid on my grief. Huh. This is what they call pain and mourning over someone? Where they see too much grief I don’t see enough of it. Where they see lingering pain I see oblivion taking over. Where they see dwelling on loss I see a healing process I cannot defeat. And why is healing and letting go healthy? Why would I want to heal at the cost of losing what I have left of her? I know I am not an ordinary guy in many respects, but is the gaping chasm between me and them that huge?

*

Dying and death are two different things. If death in itself doesn’t shake your belief in a benevolent God, the gratuitous spectacle of degradation and pain when someone is dying should do the trick. How someone’s faith can survive witnessing that grotesque spectacle is beyond me. Hoping against hope will never cease to amaze me.

*

Hell is not being able to protect someone you love. There’s nothing worse in this life than that sense of helplessness. Not even rape, injustice, betrayal or physical pain. Parents who outlive their children, unable to save them and going through that hell of powerlessness are for me proofs that God does not exist or if he does, he is just a cruel invisible Overlord not a Heavenly Father.

*

In the first months after she died missing her was somehow underwhelming. How can you properly miss someone when your mind is so consumed with them? How can you properly grieve over someone whose presence is still felt so strong? You do it but it’s subpar and curbed by that sense of presence. It takes time for them to fade away, it takes time for you to accept their departure and fully realize what death entails. It takes time to really, really miss them. In some ways, for me, only now the mourning begins. Only now her absence is overwhelming and I miss her like mad.

*

This year I didn’t put up a Christmas tree or any winter decorations. I am in no celebratory mood. Not because of the pandemic for that was a blessing in disguise for the most part. But because the desolation of last Christmas is still fresh in my mind. She loved to sit by the Christmas tree, on the red socks and stare at it. Last year, the least festive season ever, I did it for her sake though. I knew it would be her last Christmas tree. She would look at the Christmas lights, blinking on and off, from her deathbed. The reflection of those flickering lights in her big sad eyes will haunt my future Christmases forever.

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The election of Donald Trump as president of United States is one of the biggest events in the recent history of mankind, after the Holocaust. If there’s any lesson that the Second World War and Shoah taught us was that underneath the surface of civilization lies barbary. If you scratch the shallow surface of an otherwise civilized man you will find a terrifying beast. After Auschwitz the idea of firm progress and definitive civilization is just a convenient delusion. We can no longer take for granted our humanity and our mankind moving forward. The claims of historicism, that our civilization goes inexorably and necessarily toward a determinate end, supposedly great, we all know by now that are untenable.

Trump’s election as the president of United States is yet another living proof that we don’t learn anything from history and our past mistakes. After 80 years our civilization was tested again and it failed big time. Humanity stumbled once more into one of its darkest moments of toxic populism. And the fact that Christianity is the one that invested Donald Trump with power and crowned him as the ruler of our world is a demise of the Christian Church as the Light of the world and speaks volumes about the hidden darkness that lies deep within religion. The legend of the Grand Inquisitor where the Church turns the teaching of Christ upside down and rejects Him while embracing the Inquisitor is more actual than ever. The idea that a decent Christian can vote for someone who is overtly the exact opposite of what Jesus taught us and he urges us to be the same is beyond comprehension. If you look at his ideas and his facts you will find hate, division, lies, exclusion, disdain, bullying, misogyny, mockery, pride, greed, racism, deceit, sexism, cowardice. You will find biblical illiteracy (“When I drink my little wine and have my little cracker in church”). You will find lack of remorse (“Forgiveness from God? No, I never ask for it. I don’t bring God into this”). You will find vengeance (“My favourite verse from the Bible? That’s easy: an eye for an eye.“). You will find cruelty (Waterboarding? I love it!!!! We should make it even tougher!“) etc How on earth is this Christ-like? How on earth can a Christian witness all that horror and then vote for him because he defends the Christian values? Am I missing something? Is hatred a Christian value? Is disdain for the poor and underprivileged a Christian value? Is lying a Christian value? Is sexual assault and cheating on your spouse a Christian value? Is defending a pedophile a Christian value? Is lack of compassion for the oppressed and victims a Christian value? Is breaking your promises a Christian value? Is making fun of disabled people a Christian value? Is denigrating war heroes a Christian value? Is blaming others and taking no responsibility for your actions a Christian value? Is racism and telling black American women to “go back” to where they came from a Christian value? Is bragging about the size of your genitals on television a Christian value? Is paying porn actresses and prostitutes to silence them a Christian value? Is praising murderous dictators like Putin or Kim Jong-un a Christian value? Is admiring a dictator like Rodrigo Duterte for his sinister extrajudicial executions a Christian value? Is defending the royal Saudi when they brutally kill and chop up dissident journalists into pieces while they are still alive (Jamal Khashoggi) a Christian value? Is separating babies and children from their mothers before deportation a Christian value? Is demonizing migration and calling the migrants rapists a Christian value? Is, for the love of God, demonizing refugees, people who are fleeing war, starvation and rape a Christian value? I can’t think of a more grotesque situation than when I saw those crowds of Christians cheering when he started demonizing and speaking ill of refugees escaping war and persecution. Refugees, for Christ’s sake, not migrants! For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you didn’t take me in, I was naked and you didn’t clothe me. Whenever you did not do it for one of these, you didn’t do it for Me.” (Mathew 25) How on earth can you be a Christian, look Christ in the eyes and then cheer for such a disgrace? Mocking starved and displaced refugees who are running from brutal wars and to whom you are supposed to offer sanctuary and protection, while telling me and yourself that he, Donald Trump, the most ungodly president of the United States is the saviour of your Christian values? Are you for real? Don’t you have any shame? Just because it happens to have the same stance on two issues (homosexuality and abortion), even though we all know he just capitalizes on them for electoral purposes, doesn’t mean he is a supporter of the Christian values. Hitler too had the same stance on these issues, for goodness’ sake, but that doesn’t make him a defender of Christianity. You could easily tell his real identity if you bother to expand your tunnel vision and look at the entire picture!

Since the moment he got elected, four years ago, I live in a constant state of bewilderment. The stink and ugliness he brought to this world is unbearable to me. Most people, after the initial shock, got used to it. They became numb and desensitized to evil, their senses are now dulled and they witness his sordid behaviour with no outrage and indignation. He normalized evil. He normalized hate, injustice, lying, incompetence, threats, ignorance, violence, racism, nepotism, conflict of interest, tax avoidance, abuse of power, obstruction of justice, name-calling, contempt for experts, intolerance, misogyny, scapegoating, chauvinism, attacking the free press, pardoning criminal allies, mocking the weak and praising the strong, greed, you name it, to the extent that people no longer perceive his dereliction. They know he’s morally reprehensible and some of them will even admit it but he doesn’t offend their senses enough to make them outraged. Let alone sick or nauseous. When he was bragging about his sexual assault on women he was right in the way he described our dire reality: “I can do anything”. After two thousand of years of teaching that character matters, now the Christian Church all of a sudden tells us it’s not relevant anymore, providing the Church gets the power and dominant control of the culture. The end justifies the means is their latest addition to the Nicene creed. To think that such a terrible outcome where evil became normalized and people are no longer appalled by this vile moral landscape was done in the name of Jesus by a saviour (geeeez) of Christianity is ludicrous and reveals the rot, corruption and hypocrisy that lie at the heart of the Christian people nowadays. As far as I am concerned I will never get used to this despicable state of affairs. I will never cave in. I will never get numb and insensitive to this horror. Political is personal, not only the other way around. Whenever I come across stupidity or malice I feel my world is shrinking and it’s under attack. Stupidity suffocates me. Literally. It sends me into a frenzy state of despair. For the last four years the stench and the toxicity of his words poisoned my world and made it unfit to breathe. And the idea that this stink was brought into our world by Christians and my former brothers in faith and they are willing to do it again gives me the chills and horrifies me. They destroyed any notion of accountability by succumbing to a vessel theology, where their greater good is all that matters and so the vessel becomes irrelevant if not outright inerrant. If it rings a bell with you is because you heard all that before. You and six millions dead Jews. Heil mein Führer! Heil Hitler! The King Cyrus argument is just a poor rationalizaton of their corrupted soul. It was employed before for the likes of Hitler, Stalin, Franco, Pol Pot, Pinochet, Mussolini, you name it. And the lesser of two evils argument, employed by supposedly better Christians, who will follow him not wholeheartedly but by holding their nose, is not even worth refuting. Not being able to stop their glorious marching toward abyss while they follow their new Pied Piper is painful to say the least. The notion that Donald Trump saves Christianity under attack is surreal and farcical. If you manage to see through their denial and the charade they are playing, you will find, in most of them, the old dream of a theocracy still alive and kicking and their crave for revenge and power in a cultural war they are losing and about which Jesus made clear He took no part in :“My kingdom is not of this world.” (John 18:36) Two thousand years ago Judas didn’t get the point and he wanted to force His hand and make Him the King of this world. At all costs. Now the Christians fall into the same trap. Make the Christendom Great Again. Bring Jesus to Washington once and for all. Let’s tear down “the wall of separation between church and state” from our founding Constitution. The inability of the self-righteous to restrain their religious hegemony and not to impose their ideals on other people is well known and documented. Fortunately for them, in just a month, they can receive their share of the intoxicating power they so much desire and their thirty pieces of silver….

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Prima injustitie este trupul. Primesti la nastere, odata cu trupul care iti va purta sinele prin lume, destinul tau. Loteria genetica are intotdeauna the upper hand in razboiul etern dintre libertate si determinism. In contra idealismului platonic trupul e papusarul care trage sforile sufletului. Trupul este destin pentru ca ceea ce esti este determinat, intr-o proportie coplesitoare, de trupul in care eul tau s-a intrupat. Slujba. Partenerul de viata. Marimea contului din banca. Succesul la femei. Amprenta pe care o lasi in oamenii din jur. Numarul prietenilor. Durata vietii. Libertatea. Atentia cu care esti ascultat. Carisma. Umorul. You name it. Toate iti sunt date. Toate sunt continute in trupul pe care-l primesti in custodie la nastere. Poti trai cu iluzia ca lotul tau se opreste unde se termina trupul. Ca datul se refera la hardware, dar ca software-ul este totusi in jurisdictia ta. Fals. Pana si personalitatea iti este data. Inteligenta. Empatia. Zambetul. Sclipirea din ochi. Timbrul vocii. Felul cum vorbesti. Felul cum razi. Pana si mersul este un dat si nu este al tau. Si ce poate fi mai personal decat mersul? Poti admite half-heartedly ca trupul static e un dat dar ca trupul in miscare, in dinamica, mersul, este totusi semnatura ta personala. Nu este. Nu l-ai ales tu si nu este contributia ta personala. Ti-a fost dat. Nu tu alegi centrul de greutate al trupului, amplitudinea si gratia pasului sau confidenta cu care iti porti corpul prin lume. Dat. Dat. Dat. Dat. Dat. Dat.

Orice relationare cu oamenii din jurul nostru este intercesata de o continua cantarire negustoreasca. Suntem niste masini automate de jurizare. De dat note. De validat fiinte. Bun – Rau. Placut – Neplacut. Cool – Uncool. Da – Nu. 1.0.1.0.1.0. E limbajul binar al orientarii noastre prin jungla umana. A never-ending assessment and ranking. Orice intalnire cu o persoana noua este un examen de bacalaureat. Un examen de admitere in care cel judecat ajunge sau nu in gratiile noastre. Nimeni nu pare scandalizat insa de faptul bizar ca apreciem sau judecam oamenii pentru lucruri care nu sunt sub controlul acestora si pentru care nu au nici cel mai mic merit sau vina. Ca valorizam oamenii penru lotul in care au fost instalati si nu pentru eul lor autentic. Pentru talantul primit in custodie nu pentru uzufructul lui. Ce chestionez aici nu este atractia pe care o simtim fata de un chip frumos sau o minte sclipitoare. Fata de un bust generos sau un zambet dezarmant. Inteleg foarte bine ca atractia este raspunsul evolutionist la problema mortalitatii si a supravieturii noastre via reproducere. Chestionez insa saltul nepermis pe care il facem de la atractie la valorizare. De la atractie la alegere si discriminare. Chestionez efectul de halo care ne da peste cap cognitia. Sistemul nostru de orientare si evaluare a oamenilor este fraudulos. We equate luck with merit. We mistake gifted for praiseworthy. Our assessment tests are rigged and deeply flawed. Even a genius, someone we all praise and hold in high esteem is, at the end of the day, just a lucky bastard. La fel cum este absurd sa fii mandru de culoarea ochilor tai este absurd sa valorizezi pe cineva pentru picioarele lui frumoase, pentru memoria impresionanta sau pentru gropitele din obraji. Valorizarea ca sa aiba sens trebuie sa fie o functie a meritului si sa treaca prin contributia personala.

Nu sunt un sfant. Nu am nici eu anticorpi impotriva primatului corporal. Nu scap nici eu tentatiei de a evalua oamenii cu acest cantar masluit. Al lotului cu care au fost inzestrati. Insa ma straduiesc de fiecare data sa aduc evaluarea back to the right framework – eul tau nu rezida in lotul tau, in datul care iti este oferit. You are not your feet. You are not your face. You are not your brilliant intellect. Atunci cand am de-a face cu cineva care ma intereseaza cu adevarat, marea mea curiozitate e sa ii gasesc eul lui profund, sa ajung sa am o relatie cu sinele lui, nu cu determinatiile contingente. Sa-i transcend lotul si talantii primiti in dar la loteria divina. Nu e un demers lipsit de riscuri insa. Atat in ce-i priveste pe ceilalti, cat si in ce ne priveste pe noi insine. Pentru ca la capatul acestui proces de deconstructie, dupa ce dam la o parte zecile de layere ale lotului primit in dar si care nu ne pot fi creditate cu adevarat noua insine, ne putem intreba ingroziti daca ramane mare lucru din noi. Daca restul gasit, sinele autentic, are catusi de putin valoare. Faceti un exercitiu si dezbracati-va de tot ce inseamna determinatie si dat in voi. Faceti acelasi lucru cu cei doi-trei oameni pe care ii iubiti si apreciati in viata voastra. Ganditi-va la tot ce va place si valorizati in voi si in ei, si daca nu le puteti atribui contributiei proprii, inlaturati-le fara mila. Ceea ce ramane este eul vostru si eul lor, gol golut. Daca exista Dumnezeu, this core, this residual self este ceea ce va ramane din noi si ceea ce-I vom prezenta glorios in ziua cand ne vom prezenta in fata Lui. Now weigh up again this naked self devoid of any given traits. You can now properly see what you are made of. How proud of yourself are you now? How pleased with the people whom you love are you now?

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The priest: Aren't you afraid of hell? J. Kerouac: No, no. I'm more concerned with heaven.

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literatura e efortul inepuizabil de a transforma viaţa în ceva real

The priest: Aren't you afraid of hell? J. Kerouac: No, no. I'm more concerned with heaven.