Tag Archive | forgiveness

Turn the Other Cheek? Fuck that!

I don’t know very much about Islam, but that’s okay, because I don’t claim to, and so I generally stay pretty quiet about Islam and what it teaches. I know enough about it to know that it’s very close in tone to the Old Testament of the Bible, and I know that, from the point of view of an atheist, it’s pretty much just a different flavor of Christianity. So I generally don’t have any conversations about sharia or what it is, because I don’t know (or particularly care) what it is, just as I don’t particularly care to know exactly what parameters food must meet in order to be considered kosher. All religious systems have codes, laws, and layers upon layers of teachings. It’s both ridiculous and unrealistic to expect someone who doesn’t believe in the religion to know every detail–or even many details–about the layered teachings. My knowledge of Christianity is a result of my upbringing in the south, and not out of any desire that I felt at any part of my life to explicitly find out what is in the Bible.

I want to quote the Bible for a moment, though, if you don’t mind; Mathew 5:38-40:

You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.  And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well.

Now let’s get to the point.

Recently, an anti-Muslim bigot was hospitalized, and libertarian vice presidential candidate and Muslim Will Coley started a campaign to raise funds for the guy, quoting various teachings of the Quran and actions of Mohammad to show that this sort of behavior (turning the other cheek) is perfectly in accord with Islam and should be encouraged. At first, this went exactly as one would like: people saw the wisdom in the teaching. After all, you catch more flies with honey than vinegar, or so goes the saying. It’s similar to things I’ve talked about before, regarding being transgender in the south–it was not whining and screaming about victimization and bigotry that caused my landlord to change his mind about evicting me; it was my willingness to shrug and acknowledge that he was perfectly within his rights to do so. There are a few other people I know of who hated transgender people and the very idea of transgenderism until they came face-to-face with me, a real person who is simply trying to exist in peace and is very much against the idea of forcing anyone to do or be anything.

Then came the SJWs. And, oh man, did they come.

Suddenly Will was their enemy, despite having the approval of many prominent Islamic figures, and the reason that Will was their enemy?

Because he’s white.

I’m not even kidding. That’s what it all boils down to. It’s often said explicitly.

You cannot defeat racism with racism.

You cannot defeat sexism with sexism.

You cannot defeat sexual orientationism with sexual orientationism.

This is the mistake the alt-right makes. They’ve attempted to meet the left’s increasing racism, sexism, and orientationism with racism, sexism, and orientationism. I’ve directed this message at leftists and rightists. I don’t care who is being the racist–it’s never going to end racism.

That’s where I went after three prominent alt-right youtubers: Atheism is Unstoppable, The Non-Believer, and Autopsy87.

Here’s where I went after the left doing the same thing:

Now, this post is more than just a way for me to collect together various applicable things I’ve made on the subject.

The bottom line is that Will held up a mirror for Christians and Muslims alike to look into, and very few of them could stomach what they saw reflected back. When faced with this situation, they had no recourse but to either self-reflect (something most people are simply unwilling to do, because so few people are willing to acknowledge their flaws and mistakes) or to attack the messenger. Enter the cries of racism and the strange remarks that Will has no business teaching anyone about Islamic teachings… because he’s white.

This is a refrain typical of leftists, sadly. In fact, it just cost them the presidential election. Did they learn anything from losing to the most reviled presidential candidates in modern American history (after all, their preferred candidate lost to Hillary, who then lost to Trump)? Of course they didn’t. If anything, the worst losers in the 2016 election (indisputably, the “progressives”) have only doubled down their hate speech and violence, the very thing that landed them in this mess in the first place.

We have to be better than this.

Martin Luther King, Jr., Jesus, and Mohammad would all be shaking their heads in sadness at what is going on, and I can only commend Will for staying on track. When I released my video about the Liberal Redneck, I faced similar criticism, though Will is obviously facing it on a larger scale (though, it’s worth mentioning, the scale of criticism that I faced for that absolutely dwarfed the attention that anything else I’ve created has received anyway), and I remember how difficult it was, when one comment after the next rolled in calling me an idiot, a traitor, a racist, a Biblethumper, and other similar things, to stay on point and not stoop to their level. In the end, I caved and pulled down the video. I really wish I hadn’t, but… c’est la vie.

I don’t think I’d cave today.

Maybe this is just meant to be a collection of other things I’ve said on the matter. Otherwise, I’d just be repeating myself. But it’s sad that podcasts that I released a year ago are equally applicable to things today because, if anything has changed at all, then it’s only been for the worse.

I recently wrote an article attacking the notion of LGBT Pride and Outright Libertarians. I’m going to repost it in the future, but not until the shit with Cantwell has died down. It’s rather similar to how I defended Gary Johnson with the “What is Aleppo?” thing. I’ll criticize someone “on my team” when no one else is, but if someone outside that team starts to criticize, I’ll have their back–assuming they’re right.

When they’re wrong, I’ll gladly tell them so. If they’re wrong and are rightly being attacked for being wrong, then I will at the very least hold off my attack until the attack from the outside is over (after all, you won’t find me defending Outright Libertarians from Cantwell and his people).

I find that I just can’t say much on this matter with Will. I’ve already said it all–and that, I think, is the sad thing, because I’m far from being the only person saying it. Jesus said it. Mohammad said it. Gandhi said it. MLK, Jr. said it. If people won’t listen to these esteemed leaders, why in the world would they listen to me or Will Coley? Christians, Muslims, Jews, and atheists alike have all had these wonderful ideas thrown at us from every corner for centuries and thousands of years. Yet we only pay them lipservice. Whether it’s Bill Hicks or Mohammad isn’t important.

And, yes, libertarians are guilty of it, too. When Fidel Castro died, many libertarians actively celebrated his death and digitally danced on his grave. Weird behavior from a group of people whose ideology is literally built on forgiveness and love.

We need less hatred in the world.

That starts with you.

 

Justice, Punishment, and AnCap Principles

It’s come to my attention–via hearsay, as I’ve never read the person in question–that Walter Block argues that punishment in a stateless society isn’t strictly necessary, but what is important is that survivors are doubly repaid for losses. This seems to deal primarily with theft, but there was also a solution relayed to me regarding murder: simply, the murder would work for the surviving family for the rest of his life.

I… can’t get on board with any of this.

These are the moments when the principle of Non Aggression gets skewed. I have no idea if Walter Block advocates these things are not, but they are grotesque and immoral, and are no better than the state system of law and punishment we have now. So because a man did something wrong, he is to be condemned to being a slave for the rest of his life? What part of that is supposed to be in accord with AnCap principles? What part of that is supposed to be in accord with non aggression? Slavery is among the greatest violations of the NAP, to take someone and force them to work for you because they wronged you and your family member…

Two wrongs don’t make a right.

I know it’s hard. Believe me, I really do. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t see some news article from the tri-state area about a body being found in the mountains, in a lake, or in a ditch, and every single time some part of me hopes… “Could this be it? Could this be my mother?” I know damned well what it’s like to lose a family member to murder, and I know what it’s like to live with that, to live with the murderer getting away with absolutely no punishment whatsoever because the body was thoroughly discarded. So you’re not going to find too many more people with the stable ground to say this:

There is nothing that could be done to bring justice to my murdered mother. It’s done. It’s over. She’s dead. While I would love nothing more than to have her rotting body buried somewhere respectable, with a tombstone so that I could finally put her to rest, even that would do nothing to alleviate any of the sorrow or pain, and it definitely wouldn’t bring her back. I know exactly who killed her, but without a body there’s nothing to be charged with. He lives a life of relative comfort, now a trained engineer or something like that, and has the love of his children and his other family members. There is nothing that can be done to him that would constitute justice.

This is the conceit that is breaking modern society: there’s no such thing as justice. It’s an imaginary idea. What we mean when we say “justice” is “This person did something wrong, so we’re going to get revenge, but we’re going to call it something else because we want to convince ourselves that our wrongful act against him is somehow different than the wrongful act he committed.” But it isn’t, because two wrongs don’t make a right.

It’s wrong to kidnap people at gunpoint, hold them against their will, and force them into slave labor, to force them into situations where they live in concrete jungles and have to fight for their lives or be raped. That’s morally wrong. There are no exceptions.

Truth be told, there is only one way for me to have justice over my mother’s murder by what most people would call my uncle, and that would be… forgiveness. Forgiving him is the only way to ease the pain in my heart and to release the sorrow. Isn’t that the point of justice? To ease the victim’s pain? Punishment doesn’t ease the victim’s pain; it converts it into zealous excitement and lust for vengeance. Just like if your wife cheats on you, it won’t ease your pain to then go out and cheat on your wife; it will only exacerbate it, enlarge it, and lengthen it. No, the only way forward, the only way to recovery, and the only way toward justice is through forgiveness.

“Through forgiveness.”

That phrasing isn’t accidental. Forgiveness is a difficult labyrinth that must be navigated, with pitfalls and temptations hiding around every corner. Through the darkness emanate the whispers, “Why should you be the one putting in the effort? You did nothing wrong! He should be the one who pays! He should be the one who suffers! Haven’t you suffered enough? It’s time for him to pay for what he did!” These voices rarely cease while one travels through the labyrinthine, internal mind, coming to terms with the past and accepting its role in shaping the present.

It’s not supposed to be easy to forgive people, but forgiveness is all about the forgiver; it has nothing to do with the aggressor. I realized this when I was asked what, if anything, Vegas Chick could do to cause me to forgive her. I realized that there was nothing she could do, because it didn’t have anything to do with her. It had everything to do with me and my own emotional responses. I had a choice: to cling to the negative emotions, or to let them go. A demand for some kind of contrition, some kind of punishment… is clinging to the negative emotions. It never releases them, and releasing them is the only way to travel from the land of the wounded to the land of peace.

It’s also not easy to forgive the man who murdered my mother for unknown reasons. It’s not easy to forgive him for being the sole reason that I will be buried long before her body is ever discovered, if, indeed, her body is ever found. It’s not supposed to be easy to take a deep breath, let the negativity wash away, and say, “I forgive you.”

As a society, we have a passionate lust for revenge, and we love our euphemisms precisely because they allow us to pretend like it’s not revenge that we’re after. Years ago, when working through these ideas, I decided that the difference had to be that justice was impartial and vengeance was personal. In other words, if you enacted punishment against the murder on my behalf, then it was justice; if I did it, then it was vengeance. I’ve since realized how wrong that is. You acting on my behalf doesn’t change anything. It’s just a convenient way for me to shirk the responsibility; it’s just a handy way for me to pretend like I’m not the one responsible for the aggression being committed against someone else. “I’m not doing it!” I could proclaim. “They’re doing it!”

Except they’re doing it with my blessing. And whether I have the power to stop them or not–in the modern American system, I probably don’t have the power to stop the court system from prosecuting him, if her body was ever discovered–it wouldn’t change the fact that they’re doing so on my behalf, on my mom’s behalf, and on my sister’s behalf. But what if my sister and I both expressed that we wanted it forgiven, not punished? Because I would absolutely go before court and argue such a thing, even for the person who murdered my mother. Our testimony would mean little. We wouldn’t be able to simply drop the charges, despite being the only survivors of the murdered woman and therefore having more claim to express her wishes than anyone else.

And why? Because the state would be acting instead on behalf of Straw Victims it has imagined, and those Straw Victims are more important than my sister and me.

Punishment doesn’t end an injustice. It extends it.

Alternatives

The goal can’t be to punish someone. Punishment must be incidental, if it happens at all.

I don’t dispute that, once someone murders another person, individuals–whether elected or hired–have the purview to take measures to prevent the murderer from murdering anyone else. How this is to be accomplished, however, is a question of extreme importance. The obvious answer, according to most people, is to “Throw them in prison and throw away the key!”

No, because that doesn’t really prevent murder. The murder rate in prison is pretty high, and you won’t get most rational people to agree to a life sentence for one murder. Hell, the person we’re talking about served only 7 of a ten year sentence for murder. So the person is ultimately going to get back out of prison–or will kill someone in prison, bypassing the “out of prison” part altogether and committing a murder, meaning our preventative efforts failed. Since prison inmates have a 75% likelihood of going back to prison, prison is clearly an ineffective way of preventing crime from happening again. It may or may not prevent some crime, but it’s too ineffective to be our Yes, That’s the Best Solution answer.

I don’t know that I really have an alternative. Extensive therapy by trained psychologists would obviously be in order. Is there any way to fix this person’s damaged brain? Because, without exception, something has broken down in the moral centers of the murderer’s brain. That’s a given, because normal, healthy people don’t murder other people. We find the idea repugnant in every conceivable way, and we would not murder another person even if we knew that we could get away with it without any consequences at all. It’s not punishment or fear of punishment that stays our hands; it’s our own internal morality. Once that internal morality breaks down, no amount of laws will protect someone.

The goal of prison was supposed to be to segregate, punish, and rehabilitate. It fails on all accounts. A scary number of innocent people have landed in prison, without even getting into the number of people in prison for committing “victimless crimes*”. So criminals are not segregated from the innocent. Nor are they punished, at least not in the way that society likes to pretend. Drug abuse and sex are rampant in prison. It’s often easier to find hardcore drugs in prison than it is to find them on the streets. As for rehabilitation–you’re kidding right? I would bet my shiny new tickets to the A Perfect Circle show in Nashville that most the 25% of former prisoners who don’t return to prison are simply too old upon release to be out there raping and killing people, or whatever they did to go to prison in the first place.

There has to be some way of preventing someone from committing another murder, and that’s what our focus should be on. Not punishment. Punishment only exacerbates the amount of wrongdoing in the world. Killing someone because they killed someone doesn’t reduce the amount of killing in the world; it obviously increases it by one. Kidnapping and holding someone against their will for kidnapping and holding someone against their will doesn’t reduce the amount of people being kidnapped and held against their will; it increases it by one. There is no justice as long as we are doing things that add more murder, more kidnapping, more imprisonment, more rape, and more violence to the world.

Justice, as an ideal, must be incapable of increasing the amount of aggression in the world. If it increases the amount of aggression, then it cannot be justice. That must be our metric for determining what is justice and what isn’t.

It starts with forgiveness.

This doesn’t mean that a person shouldn’t be held to account for acts of aggression, or that there should be no consequences. It does, however, change the goals of the consequences. Rather than seeking punishment, we should seek prevention. “What can we do to make sure this man never kills again?” should be our guiding question, not, “How can we make this man suffer for what he did?” The act is done. Making him suffer won’t fix anything and won’t help anything; it will only increase the amount of suffering in the world.

And two wrongs don’t make a right.

This is very different from catching someone in the act of aggression and having the opportunity to stop the act from escalating. If you walk in on some thief beating the hell out of your family member and you shoot and kill that thief, you’ve done nothing wrong. You prevented a beating from escalating into what probably would have been a murder. Since the thief initiated the aggression, you did what you had to do to protect another human being who had done nothing to initiate the attack. But what if you came home from work and you knew who had beaten your brother half to death and stolen your laptops and television? Would it be morally right to chase that person down and kill them? I don’t think many people would say “Yes” to that, and I certainly wouldn’t. Because at that point, you’re no longer preventing; you’re punishing.

We need a lot of spiritual growth–a phrase I use colloquially. It’s true, though. Before we can have a stateless society, we have to have a society where no one is asking “How can we punish criminals?” Because a stateless society can’t answer that question, because a stateless society forbids the use of force, violence, and coercion. “How can we punish criminals” is the wrong question, coming from a dark place in the human heart that prefers vengeance to forgiveness, and that’s something we have to let go of. We have to learn to forgive. Once we have a society of people asking the right question–“How can we prevent a murderer from killing again?”–then we will be ready to enjoy the luxuries of a stateless society.

This is part of the reason that the state is so tied to the criminal system, of course. It wants us to confuse punishment with justice, because as long as we’re erroneously calling punishment “justice,” we’ll despise any system that seeks to deny it to us. “You mean you’re not going to punish that child rapist? He should have his dick cut off! He should be publicly castrated! Fuck him! Throw him in prison with Big Jim!”

No… No.

That’s vengeance, not justice.

Yes, by all means, and absolutely: let’s prevent that rapist from raping again. That’s mandatory, once they have done such a horrific act. But punishment isn’t going to do it. And when taking steps to prevent the act from occurring again, we should be mindful whether our motivation is to sate our bloodlust for vengeance, or whether our motivation is to actually protect future victims from being similarly harmed. Only by using the correct path can we arrive at the correct destination.

Bloodlust leads to punishment and, 75% of the time, repeat offenses.

Forgiveness leads to justice and prevention.

So what do we do about criminals in a stateless society? I don’t know. But I’d love for us to put our brilliant minds and our empathic hearts together and come up with a solution that actually works without increasing the amount of suffering in the world and while releasing the primordial instinct within us that demands we take an eye for an eye.

* Otherwise called “choices”.

Infidels Rejoicing in Fidel’s Death

I’ve seen a lot of hatred unleashed in the past few days, spewing forth from people across the political spectrum, including Democrats, Republicans, and Libertarians. I, for one, refuse to rejoice over someone’s death, and I would urge you not to, as well, because love starts with you.

You can love the person while hating what the person does and has done.

In fact, you must love the person. No matter how great the injuries they’ve given others and no matter how much blood is on their hands, if you don’t love them then you’re hardly any better than they are. The libertarians and self-proclaimed anarchists celebrating Fidel’s death–the only difference between them and Fidel is that they waited for nature to take its toll, while Fidel, being part of nature as we all are, took matters into his own hands.

Fidel killed an estimated 7,000 Cubans, tried to get the USSR to nuke the United States, and tortured and imprisoned countless. This is why you hate him? Has it not occurred to you that, by this criteria, you must hate more than 90% of the world’s population? The United States, supported by a huge chunk of Americans, has killed way more people than that, just in the last fifteen years. We incarcerated far more people than Fidel ever did, and our reasons were every bit as empty and political as Castro’s–he might have incarcerated people for protesting, while we have police and quasi-military agencies lining up at Standing Rock to abuse American citizens. We have the highest percentage of prisoners in the world, and most of them have done nothing wrong by any rational standard. This is true in Europe, as well, and the Middle East, and Asia, and India, and Russia, and China. No matter where you go, these things are true.

And, let me just fill you in, if you are hating more than 90% of the world’s population, then you can’t possibly be any better than the people you hate.

Yes, condemn the murder of people, the incarceration of people, the robbery of people, the torture of people. Absolutely, but…

Whoever hates his brother is a murderer: and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.

1 John 3:15

It’s an irony that’s not lost on me, that despite being an ardent atheist I sound more like a follower of Christ than the overwhelming majority of Christians out there. I wouldn’t agree that you’re a murderer, but if you’re thinking in such literal terms then you’ve completely missed the point, and–

Holy hell, did I just say that?

hateForgiveness isn’t easy. Forgiveness isn’t supposed to be easy. It’s supposed to require a lot of restraint, compassion, and focused, intentional reflection on your part in order to forgive someone, and, the more harm they have done, the harder it is to forgive them.

But when you’re looking at the legacy of a bloody tyrant, that is when it’s most important to cling to your humanity and consciously choose love over hate. That’s the moment that matters, the moment when it’s most difficult; that’s the moment when the infidels are separated out from the rest. This is when the rubber hits the road, when the going gets tough, and when the people who simply talk shit are separated from people who walk the walk.

Whatever else is true, this is a human being who did love people and who was loved, and this human being is now dead. His brief moment of existence in the cosmological clock of the universe is over, and he will never exist again; a piece of the universe, a piece of reality, has been irretrievably lost forever.

Meanwhile, the ideas that this man embraced live on. While you’re over there rejoicing in his death, to the observer you look no better than he. I hate everything Castro represents. You won’t find very many people in the public eye who represented the diametrical opposite of my beliefs, worldview, and ideology as much as Fidel Castro did. For fuck’s sake, I’m a transgender anarcho-capitalist. Castro would have hated me if he knew I existed, and he would surely have put me to death if I lived in his country.

But hate gets us nowhere.

Should Hillary Be In Prison?

No.

At this point, any attempts by the Republican government to prosecute Hillary Clinton would be spiteful and vicious, driven not by a desire for justice but by a desire to crush a political opponent, and in matters of morality motive is everything. I simply do not believe that Republicans are capable of prosecuting Hillary for noble reasons, and that they have become so partisan that they have confused their own lust for political victory with justice.

Even if we could put together a truly non-partisan panel that would look into Hillary Clinton and prosecute her, and even if this unbiased panel found her guilty of crimes, I don’t think she should be incarcerated. I think that we, as a society, need to get over our lust for punishment, because punishment is counterproductive. I’m about to make the argument that there are two forms of punishment, but for the moment I want to say that–if Hillary was found criminally negligent by this panel and then a jury of peers, the only thing that should be done is bar her from holding political offices in the future. In this scenario, she would have proven that she cannot be trusted with power, and, in the interest of preventing future crimes, we would prevent her from getting power.

The goal of any punishment should be to prevent future crime. In and of itself, there is nothing to be gained by punishing people for past crimes. Leave the past in the past. It is done. It is over, and it cannot be changed by using force, violence, and coercion against someone in vengeance for what they did. Punishing people for past crimes is often the method of prohibiting them from future crimes, but there is a difference.

I asked the question not long ago:

Imagine that we have invented a new miracle medicine that, by receiving just one shot, will cure sexual predators with 100% certainty and leave them totally unwilling to ever commit another sex crime. The drug does not affect their free will or psychological condition; it just makes them not want to do what they did ever again. However, if they are otherwise punished at any point with a jail/prison sentence, then the medicine will not work. If we give them the medicine before or after their prison sentence, it will not work; the only way to cure them is to not punish them. On the other hand, we can continue to punish them with prison, but there is a chance that they will get out of prison and, somewhere down the road, commit more crimes. Which would you advocate? The miracle drug, or prison?

Knowing that it would mean the person would never be punished, it’s my guess that most people would be adamantly against the miracle drug. When we’re faced with the reality that it means Bob raped thirteen kids in nine states and will never be punished for it, I think most people would rather him be punished. Our motive is not really to prevent future crimes; we’re interested primarily in punishing people, with making them pay, with seeking vengeance. “He made thirteen kids suffer, so he should have to suffer, too.”

While I understand completely where they’re coming from, it gets us nowhere in the grand social scheme, and we have to learn forgiveness. We have to learn to forgive people, even those people who we really, really hate. There is hardly ever anything to be gained by punishing people for past transgressions.

However, there is always something to be gained by preventing people from making future transgressions, and that is the point of my hypothetical about the miracle drug. In some ways, this could be a semantic argument; preventing someone from committing future transgressions because they have a history of transgressions and you wan to stop them is, in a manner of speaking, punishing them for their past transgressions. Except it’s not, because it’s focused on the future rather than the past.

The future is far more important than the past.

Except as evidence and showing us how we got here, the past is largely useless. The future, however, is always coming. If we are going to choose between focusing on the past or focusing on the future, then one of them is clearly superior to the other; focusing on the past would be silly. Yet this is what most people would advocate with their punishment systems, because it’s so much more satisfying to get vengeance than it is to protect presently hypothetical victims from future harm. We would be much more satisfied emotionally knowing that Bob is in prison being made into Big Jim’s bitch than we would knowing that we might have prevented Bob from raping another child fifteen years into the future, especially since there’s a possibility that Bob won’t do it anyway because he doesn’t want to have us seek vengeance upon him again.

The past has happened. It is how we got where we are right now, and all of those past moments led to this one. Of course the past is important. It’s critical that we understand where we are, and it’s often necessary to know what happened before to get a grip on what is currently going on. However, the past is also over. It is done, and crying about it is not going to change the present. Nor is punishing someone in the present going to change the past. It will change the present and the future, obviously, and that’s what we need to focus on: the future, not placating our desire to have revenge.

Attempting to exact revenge is an act of force and violence. Throwing Hillary in prison is an act of violence and force, using people with guns to kidnap her and hold her against the will. The same is true for Bob, except we’re putting Bob in a prison where we know that he will be attacked, beaten, tortured, and raped. We cannot claim to be on the side of moral good if we’re advocating these things. If we’re advocating that people should be kidnapped and thrown into caged arenas to be beaten, tortured, raped, attacked, and possibly murdered, we cannot claim to be on the side of justice or good.

Of course we need to prevent future transgressions from being done, and by this point we have every reason to justify doing what we can to prevent them. That is the furthest that morality and justice will take us, though, and anything beyond that pushes us firmly into Immoral Vengeance territory.

Currently, more than 75% of people released from prison end up back there. We cannot make the argument that prison reduces the occurrence of future crimes by any successful measure, especially since it’s likely that some of those 25% of people who don’t end up back in prison did commit further crimes, but weren’t caught. A 1 in 4 success rate is abysmal, and we would not accept it in any other area of our life. What if your vehicle only had a 1 in 4 chance of getting you to work? What if the city bus only had a 1 in 4 chance of getting you to the store? What if your airplane only had a 1 in 4 chance of getting you to Los Angeles? What if your television only had a 1 in 4 chance of turning on? What if your phone only had a 1 in 4 chance of sending a text message? What if Gmail only had a 1 in 4 chance of delivering your email? What if the polio vaccine only had a 1 in 4 chance of preventing polio, if the flu vaccine only had a 1 in 4 chance of preventing the flu, and if the pneumonia vaccine only had a 1 in 4 chance of preventing pneumonia? This failure rate is completely unacceptable.

There are undoubtedly better ways to protect the future.

Clearly, they start with forgiveness.

Peace At Last

You and I are destined to incarnate again. It is inevitable.

That, or something very similar to it, is the last thing the Vegas Chick said to me. When I spoke of it with a friend weeks ago, he remarked, “Sounds like a red flag to me. Did she kill herself?”

I’ve given that a fair bit of thought. She was plagued by suicidal thoughts, or so she claimed at least. I only know what she said, and it struck me then that age was prone to bouts of extreme emotion and despair, but that’s hardly suicidal. Suicidal thoughts are written not in words but in scars. So, realistically, I sincerely doubt it. Despair is a cause of suicidal tendencies, but it is not interchangeable with suicidal tendencies, and many people mislabel emotional surges of hopelessness as suicidal. But I hold that thinking “I wish I was dead” and taking a razor to the wrists or gun barrel to the temple are very different things.

But that’s the intellectual take, and another layer of that is that killing herself would be the zenith of melodrama. Oh, poor thing with a career and apartment and kids and financial stability–how terrible such a life must be! Despite everything, she’s aware of that, and I don’t think she’s susceptible to that level of melodrama. I could be wrong, though.

The primary reaction for me, though, is a simple emotional one–and also one that must be explained so that I don’t sound like a monster.

Goddamn, do I hope so.

To be clear, I don’t want the girl dead by any means. But I do want peace. I requested numerous times that she leave me alone, and she wouldn’t. I told her repeatedly that I was through talking to her, and she always popped back up a few weeks later, sometimes a few months. Our relationship goes back years in a similar way: every few months. Then, we didn’t end those periods on such negative terms, but it doesn’t change the fact that, for many years, she regularly came back into my life, whether I wanted it or not, and even if I explicitly asked her to leave me alone.

I don’t want her to be dead, and I’d love for her to have a long and happy life, but I fucking want peace, and I don’t trust her ability to refrain from reaching out to me.

I’ve nothing more to say to her. It is impossible for me to ever again consider her to be a friend, or even a decent human being. She has revealed her colors, and her hue is that of the jaded and mundane. It is not because I was the victim of all that she did; it is because she did it at all. I do not associate with such people.

Of course, being the victim of it hasn’t helped. Each time I find myself on the interstate, I find myself vividly recalling the high hopes that fueled my journey across thousands of miles, through deserts and over mountains. I remember the way that I happily raced through the red landscape of New Mexico, not caring at all that I’d be very unlikely to ever again see my old friends. I recollect how I sat in the Nevada sun through the days, agonizing, totally alone, isolated from everyone, thousands of miles from someone who cared, with the Sword of Damocles hanging over me and desperate to keep it from falling.

She could have spent her entire life making amends, and maybe I could have, at some point, forgiven her. But no amends were made. I tried to forgive her anyway, and I repeatedly failed. Sometimes it’s just not possible to forgive. Sometimes it’s not possible to forget.

I will never really have “peace” about the entire thing, because I’ll never be able to come to terms with what she did. Honestly, I doubt that anyone could come to terms with such betrayal and abandonment from such a trusted friend, especially when the excuse for the treachery was more or less an unapologetic and grossly inadequate “I’m mercurial and narcissistic.”

Because make no mistake about it: that was essentially the reason given. That was the excuse she gave. Everything I did after easily falls into the stages of grief, and I spent much time in denial. Not just denial that I had just been the victim of the basest betrayal, but denial that she really was just a mercurial narcissist. I didn’t want to believe it. I wanted to believe that the person I loved wasn’t a farce she constructed. I still don’t want to believe that.

I don’t want to believe anything at all. I want peace. I want to forget it, and i can’t even explain how much I want to forget her. There’s a reason Vegas isn’t mentioned at all in Dancing in Hellfire. The places she held in my heart and mind, she forfeit her right to. And now all I want is for her to completely fade from my past. I deserve that.