Ceding

I don’t like living in a world of almost total regimentation of thought, a world of double think and thought crimes. I wish this horror would go back to live in the pages of the book these terms came from. Alas, it’s not going to happen, so I will concede or recede, or some sort of cede anyway, and hide myself in the pages of a book. And in the rooms of my house and in my yard, too, of course.

The world out there, whether online or offline is just too volatile for a truthseeker, especially when the seeking itself goes against the narrative we are all supposed to accept.

I don’t know the truth, obviously, or I wouldn’t have to look for it. I’m not sure anyone knows all the truth about the virus, the protests, or the riots. As Bernie LaPlante (Dustin Hoffman) says to his son at the end of the movie Hero: “You remember when I said how I was gonna explain about life, buddy? Well the thing about life is, it gets weird. People are always talking ya about truth. Everybody always knows what the truth is, like it was toilet paper or somethin’, and they got a supply in the closet. But what you learn, as you get older, is there ain’t no truth. All there is is bullshit, pardon my vulgarity here. Layers of it. One layer of bullshit on top of another. And what you do in life like when you get older is, you pick the layer of bullshit that you prefer and that’s your bullshit, so to speak.”

The difference is, today we’re not allowed to choose our own layer — it’s chosen for us. Which might be okay if the layer made sense. I’d rather be thinking about other things, anyway. But believing two contradictory ideas — double think — drives me nuts. For an example, we’re supposed to believe that The Bob came accidentally from a wet market in China, and yet we’re not allowed to call it the Chinese flu or the Wuflu or anything like that because it’s racist. And we’re supposed to believe that only whites can be racist, though why that is, I don’t know. I just know that it is because that’s what we’re told over and over again. And yet, the thing I posted on Facebook that caused such a ruckus was a video I shared about a black woman attempting to tell the truth (or at least her truth) about the not-so-angelic victim of the inciting incident of the protests and riots as well as the truth of police brutality when it comes to different skin colors. Because it didn’t follow what everyone believes or are supposed to believe, this “racist propaganda” garnered anger and hatred from my “friends”.

I’m sorry, folks, you can’t have it both ways. Either only whites are racist or the black woman was racist. The two ideas are mutually exclusive. And, of course, I am racist for sharing the video.

Thomas Sowell, a black economist, pretty much sums up my confusion: “If you have always believed that everyone should play by the same rules and be judged by the same standards, that would have gotten you labeled a radical 60 years ago, a liberal 30 years ago and a racist today.”

It feels so very odd to go from being a radical thinker or a liberal to a . . . well, not radical thinker, and definitely not a liberal by today’s standards. And I definitely am not buying into the current story we are all supposed to believe. I can’t. It’s too contradictory.

Besides, even though it seems to be required to pay obeisance to the black community, to take a knee, to apologize for “white privilege,” I can’t do that, either. To do so means that every bad thing a person of color did to me, I have to accept as being deserved. As being my due. Believe me, I did nothing to invite sexual assault. Nothing to invite intimidation and harassment. (Sure, I cross the street to avoid gangs high on drugs, but there is no way in hell I would ever elbow my way through such a crowd.) There was nothing my brothers ever did to invite all the beatings they got in our interracial neighborhood, nor did we request to have our bikes stolen. And for sure there was nothing I ever did worth having my car wrecked, being pulled out of the vehicle at gunpoint, and having my bag stolen.

Oops. I didn’t mean to let all that out. Still, those things happened, though at none of those times did it really register that the perpetrators were people of a different color. They simply were.

But see? Shades of gray when we are supposed to only see one stark shade of maybe-truth.

Since there is no room for a truthseeker nowadays, I am retreating. I haven’t deleted my social network accounts since I might need them when my new book is published next year, but I have removed all bookmarks so that I am not tempted to go back and accede to their narrative. (Don’t worry — I’ll be keeping up with this blog. I need some way to keep in contact with my inner self and the outer world.)

Once I get past all the insults and unpleasantness (and at my age, it’s a bit foolish of me to let those sorts of things still sting), I’ll be happier.

I must admit, all this makes me miss Jeff so very much. He, too, was a truthseeker, and it would be comforting right now to have the company of someone who didn’t vilify me for trying to see what others want to keep hidden.

Since he’s not around, I’ll be mostly hermitting. Luckily, this is the time of year for a different sort of seeding, so I’ll have things to do to keep me occupied in my secession.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

The Truth About Truth

During the last presidential election, I lost so much respect for so many folks that I didn’t think my opinion of people could get much lower, but I am now losing even more respect for people than I did back then.

It’s not their opinions that matter — or don’t matter — to me. People can believe whatever they want, can say whatever they want, share whatever they want. I read everything. (In this way, if nothing else, I am a bit different from those who read only that which illuminates or proves what they already believe.) I agree with some of what most people say and most of what some people say, so I really have no stake in what is generally believed or disbelieved.

I have learned enough to know that contrary to what people are saying, we are not all in this together. We might all be dealing with the same global situation, but everyone is dealing with their own particular brand of the situation. Some people are terrified while others don’t seem particularly upset. Some people are going stir-crazy with the lockdowns yet for other people, it’s not much different from their pre-quarantine lives. Some people are dying of loneliness and the lack of touch, others are dying from The Bob or other diseases. Some people are grieving, others are just waiting for the restrictions to be lifted. Some people are angry at those who don’t wear masks even out walking by themselves with no one else around. Some people refuse to wear masks unless it is mandated, and sometimes not even then. Some people are losing jobs, others are losing their minds. Still others are living in dread of the aftermath of the shutdown and the long-term repercussions.

We all live with the values we take to heart and whatever truth we can face. Some people’s truth tends to be very religious. For others it’s politics. Still others look behind the headlines of the news to find deeper reasons for what is happening in the world. It’s all good. It’s all truth in its own way.

As Berrnie LaPlante (Dustin Hoffman) says to his son at the end of the movie Hero: “You remember when I said how I was gonna explain about life, buddy? Well the thing about life is, it gets weird. People are always talking ya about truth. Everybody always knows what the truth is, like it was toilet paper or somethin’, and they got a supply in the closet. But what you learn, as you get older, is there ain’t no truth. All there is is bullshit, pardon my vulgarity here. Layers of it. One layer of bullshit on top of another. And what you do in life like when you get older is, you pick the layer of bullshit that you prefer and that’s your bullshit, so to speak.”

Yep. That about covers it, though I have to admit, the toilet paper analogy is especially amusing and apropos considering the current shortage of both toilet paper and truth.

So why am I losing respect? Because other people don’t have the same laissez-faire attitude that Bernie does. Too often people resort to ridicule, belligerence, sarcasm and other tools of the weak when they are confronted with ideas contrary to their own.

What does it matter to anyone what other people believe to be the truth? That’s their level of bullshit. You have your own. Does it matter that some of your FB friends are turning to God to help them through this situation? Does it matter that some are using this situation to foster their political beliefs? Does it matter that some believe the official story? Does it matter that some people are looking for causes and explanations from experts other than the “official” experts?

No. None of that matters. We are all coping the best we can. Sneering at people for their truth is no help to anyone. Getting nasty toward people who post different sources than yours shows a lack of open-mindedness. Ridiculing people only points out the ridiculousness of your own position, not theirs.

I still go on Facebook way more than I should. Partly, it’s to reply to comments that people leave on my posts. Partly it’s to catch up with those few I do respect — the people who post thoughtful articles from a variety of sources and who never resort to ridicule or belligerence or sarcasm.

And partly, I have to admit, because I am bored. (Boredom is not something I ever like admitting, because I believe any reasonably intelligent person has the resources to stave off boredom, but these are times that try even the most resourceful.)

Luckily, FB has a snooze button so I can put the less than reasonable folks in a time-out. Even more luckily, my knee is healing, which allows me to get around more and find other things to do than play on the computer. (Part of the issue with my knee/leg, I have come to realize is that I spend way too much time sitting at my computer, so staying away is good on so many levels.)

This the truth. Or at least my truth.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.