I took a hiatus recently. What I didn’t count on as I revisited some old memories from the early days of my adulthood was how much of an effect they might have on me as I was recounting them as clearly as if I had gone back in time. My brother Daryll was kind enough to lend me his words of wisdom once again and it seems an appropriate place to start the creative juices flowing once again.
This story is a bit older, and I’ll admit poorly captured, but I learned a lesson out of this jumbled mess that I feel deserves repeating. I hope that after reading this short piece from a day in my life you gain two things; the first, an understanding of the complex nature of moral decisions in everyday life; and second, that when given a thought you CAN learn from your mistakes and shortcomings. Thanks for taking the time to read this. -Dare
I started out today with a lie, and the intent to write about the truth.
I opened a book I had no real intention of reading to page 109, and the first paragraph I read settled any debate I might have been having. The paragraph mentioned that “philosophers use convincing arguments to bend people into believing what they want.” This caused me to make several decisions all at once, and then to immediately analyze them. The book, being of a business oriented, corporate nature, designed to train people in better ways to market and advertise to consumers by playing on psychology and emotions, was against my cause.
Now I mentioned I started the day off with a lie and by that I really mean there are several lies as well as truths that decided the day. To start, the book in question was acquired under false pretenses because I wanted to use it selfishly as a replacement swap for another book from a “Little Library” (a DIY, free library created to promote book sharing and literacy in communities). I hadn’t even seen what was available for swap in the Little Library, I just assumed there must be something I wanted. So I set to the task of getting a book I planned on losing in exchange, not caring what its content was or even if anyone else might like it. All of this was pointless from the start because the etiquette of Little Libraries does not require that one leaves a book when one is taking a book. Regardless I felt bad that I would be taking one and not leaving something for somebody else so instead of that one foul I began a streak. 1) I lied to my mother-in-law so she would get me a book from an (unrelated) free library. 2) I lied to myself thinking this was better. 3) I lied to any future Little Library patron that might be looking for a good read, by substituting a “junk” book. So, in my anger at lying so much; at the thought of putting this “evil corporate book” in a place where free minds congregated in the hopes that I could selfishly attain something for my own benefit; after reading what I had read in the business book and considering destroying it, which would have been censorship (the opposite of truth and freedom); I came to the conclusion that I needed to write.
I resolved to write about that book, the part that falsely represented philosophy at least, and how although I am in opposition to the information and goals represented in it, that I couldn’t censor its content and make myself an enemy of truth.
It also happened on this day that I had an appointment with a particular party to keep but had cancelled it in favor of a better opportunity. This also freed me up to use the extra time to write about the truth, which started the lies all over. I lied to a separate party (aware of my appointment) so as not to disappoint them and to avoid any unwanted conversation it would cause. Again, selfishness. One mishap and lie led to another leading me to consider what I was doing and that again I found myself opposing what I was trying to represent, the truth. Eventually I did come clean and all was fine (for the duration of this story) and it even seemed silly to have lied to begin with. Yet despite the reprieve, after separating from the second party and not wanting any further conversation, I decided to travel a road I don’t normally use, as it would prevent me from running into them again. I almost paid for it in blood.
I had simply wanted to avoid a conversation and instead I put myself in real danger. On the walk to the Cafe I decided to go through a neighborhood I don’t normally walk through, and away from the main road. I’m still not certain if I should have chosen differently but I know what fear feels like, and I felt it. (Warning I am writing the curse words that followed. Again, no censorship.) There was a man walking on the same road, headed in my direction but on the other side. I didn’t pay any mind since I walk everywhere and so do other people. I’ve passed thousands of people without incident. Not today. The man changed sides of the road to be on mine although there were no cars or reason to, so I changed sides to avoid running into him. He then changed sides again to come towards me. I tried again and he mirrored again, except that now he was shouting at me!?
“Hey! You wanna fight me!” He shouted. “Hey you, do you hear me? I said you wanna fight me!”
He angled towards me and I froze. I couldn’t believe this, I didn’t do anything threatening and this guy was threatening me. He screamed this time,
“Hey Fucker!! I’m talking to you, you FIGHT me! Are you listening to me?”
I heard every word he said, but I couldn’t understand why this was happening. He started to corner me and put his hand out, telling me to take it. I turned away and started walking towards houses, anybody’s. I walked to the nearest house with him right behind me. He started shouting again,
“I can’t believe it, you won’t take my Fuckin’ hand?!”
I walked faster and then ran for the door of some stranger’s house.
“Fuckin weirdo!” He screamed at me, but I was already in another yard. There were dogs barking at me and a car parked in the drive and I’m certain someone was watching me from the window, but I would rather have explained the situation to a sane person than risk another second with this madman. Finally he walked off muttering to himself and I was grateful to get far away from him, and the yard.
I learned two lessons from this and they were Truth and Trust.
The lesson of truth I know will be one I have to learn and relearn again and again. I think in the struggle to find truth and share it, you have to live it. You have to catch yourself in lies and correct yourself. If we want truth and justice then we must stop ourselves even from little lies, abusing trust, manipulation, the pursuit of personal gain and self advancement. We must reject these even if they seem necessary to meet a goal. If truth cannot be achieved without deceit then it is a lost cause from the start.
The lesson of trust was frightening and enlightening. I trusted myself; I trusted familiar situations; I trusted a stranger with shared similarities; I trusted unearned peace. Trust should be guarded. My struggle for fraternity makes me naive on occasion as I hope that men in my position will share my hopes and desires for brotherhood and peace. I forget that men in my position are bound. They feel the binds of labor, of oppression, of injustice and unfair treatment, of inequality. They feel chained like animals and often lash out at the world, even against someone who might be there to free them. Trust, unlike compassion, should not be freely given but reserved. I will continue to find truth in my daily life and help to spread it, and I will trust only when it is mutual.
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