Missing and Maintaining

So yes, kids, I did indeed miss another Quote of the Day. Since at this stage I have a readership of maybe two or three, I doubt that anyone’s world foundation is rocked by my failure, but who knows?

After all, as I was just reminded today by one of those million dollar bills which Way of the Master devotees use to get out of leaving real tips (and, less intentionally, for demonstrating that even the most classic of jests can have all the humor sucked out of them by ideologues), if one has ever even once in the course of a lifetime lied or stolen or had an impure thought about a woman who ‘belongs’ to another man, then one is a LIAR and a THIEF and an ADULTERER, and can only be redeemed by the One Who Mastered Sin, yadda yadda yadda.

(I’ve noticed, by the way, that WoM-men always lay a huge emphasis on on how they are particularly prone to the latter sin. Even in their rejection of what they consider sin, they want to borrow the cachet of that one to deflect any perception which people may have that they are girly-men – apparently there’s something about declaring one’s self utterly pwn3d by a virgin pacifist who got his ass nailed to a tree two millennia ago which threatens the machismo. It’s always phrased unashamedly as “lusting after another man’s woman” too, not “disrupting a relationship” or anything modern like that. The unconscious troglodytism is truly appalling.)

I can understand the appeal of this line of thinking, truly. When I was studying for my associate’s degree I got all A grades up until my final semester. The pressure I put on myself to maintain the 4.0 was intense and only grew more intense with each passing semester. I finally blew a B in my last semester and screwed the whole thing up… because half my credits were transfers it meant I could only graduate magna cum laude instead of summa cum laude. Oh, the Humanity! (The Science? AS, not AA.)

Then I went on to work on my baccalaureate degree. There I got a B in Data Structures in the first semester (by virtue of wiping my entire final project with a misconfigured makefile after making no backups), and the relief was enormous! The As I got afterward were by virtue of enjoying the learning rather than in order to maintain an artificial and unsustainable (by me) perfection. Note that I did get As, I wouldn’t want you to miss that even though I don’t consider it a sin! Oh, I got laid too, honest I did! Really!

So I do understand the trick, but I also see through it. Makeout artists, I’m told, use a similar technique called ‘negging’ to get women to have sex with them (‘score’); they begin the evening by insulting the targeted woman, preferably in connection with whatever aspect of themselves the women consider most attractive to men. The idea is that the women are then compelled to prove to themselves that they are, too, attractive, by pursuing the dickwad who insulted them. Apparently it works quite well on women who have been emotionally wounded to the point of being temporarily or permanently crippled (sadly a not uncommon state in our society), and hucksters from the Way of the Master or the Church of Scientology are trained and eager to exploit that kind of weakness in men and women alike.

Guilt is a tremendous, out-jutting handle on our psyche, and one which can be exploited easily by any ruthless bastards with insight into its workings. Poor, sick, can’t look after your kids? It’s because you didn’t follow the teachings of the Church, or the Party, or your Mother. Life’s good? Well, you know you don’t really deserve it, and a hard rain’s a-coming if you didn’t follow the teachings of the Church, or the Party, or your Mother…

That’s not to say that guilt itself has no uses; the very reason I instituted my regular features of the Daily Quote, the Friday Frog and the Monthly Poem was to guilt myself into maintaining this blog. It has more or less worked, too; I’ve been much better about keeping this thing alive since I instituted those. Several QOTDs piled up makes me nervous; two FFs too close together are a Big Red Flag; if I get two MPs separated only by quotes and frogs, Parliament likely wants dissolving (and then where would the country be?).

Guilt is not in itself a bad thing, then; it is a tremendously useful neurological reminder that we have not met goals which we consider important. (The important thing is not to let others decide what is important!) If we don’t keep to our diet, exercise, take out the trash on time, recycle, refrain from theft, let a person handicapped by age or pregnancy or simple tiredness take the free seat on the bus, forgive our cat for testing his claws on our air mattress… guilt.

That last – you may have guessed, you clever minxes – is one I recently experienced personally. Oh I was mad! I was steaming. I fumed pretty badly, until my boy reminded me “Don’t be too mad at her, Daddy, because she does love you, after all.” He’s confused about the cat’s gender, of course, but his instincts about the cat’s wrongdoing and my reaction were spot on.

The saying goes, “To err is human, to forgive divine.” Bullshit, says I; forgiveness is entirely human also. The impulse to call it divine is only a reflection of this absurd idea that we have no inherent goodness in ourselves, that the good in us comes always from some divine Master – not our selves which are, and can only be, sources of weakness and evil. What utter crap! Some of the nicest people I have ever known have been human beings, and some of the nastiest people I have read of were gods.

So I missed a QOTD again; admit it, the previous sentence isn’t a bad quote in itself, if I say so myself! 😉 So I’ll put that one up to stand in for yesterday, and a real one for today, and I trust you’ll forgive me – because I really do love you, after all.

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~ by B.T. Murtagh on November 22, 2007.

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