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Archive for the ‘pondery’ Category

The Grinch.
The Prodigal Son.
Scrooge.

What do these fellows have in common? For one thing, these central characters all behave in a way that goes against what their peers consider socially acceptable.

“At this festive season of the year, Mr Scrooge, … it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the Poor and destitute, who suffer greatly at the present time. Many thousands are in want of common necessaries; hundreds of thousands are in want of common comforts, sir.” – A Christmas Carol

 

“Santie Claus, why? Why are you taking our Christmas tree? Why?” – How the Grinch Stole Christmas

They may not be considered out-and-out villains, but they’re seen as misbehavers at the very least. Then, they all have dramatic transformations of their core personalities and perspectives, and afterward are enthusiastically welcomed into the fold.

Those I was always more curious about in these stories are people like the gentler Whos in Whoville around the table at the big feast. They perhaps never experienced an extreme change, but certainly many have tried all their lives to do the right thing. They’ve had quiet struggles – because anyone trying to do the right thing will sometimes struggle with it – and they’ve mostly succeeded. What of their stories? I think most of us are like these folks in the background – no showy celebrations for our small wins. Who’s our character to rally behind?

I understand the need for a big redemption in order to add interest and drama to a plot. The endings of these three fellows’ stories are quite satisfying, if you don’t overthink like I do. Maybe the main takeaway is that us quieter, small-win folks can see that, if seemingly wretched folks like those dudes can soften their hearts and choose a better path, well, so can we.

We may all have latent heroes quiet or otherwise inside of us; but a villain waits there too.

What is a hero, really, but a villain that struggled and succeeded?

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I would say that blogs are the new confessionals: anonymous tale-tellers offloading their thoughts to an anonymous listener. I would say that suggestions offered in blog Comments are the new Penance for Sins committed.

I would say these things if I still believed in the concept of Sin, but I do not.

I do believe in the idea of misguided choices; in the concepts of kindnesses withheld, dysfunctional adaptations, poor coping skills, cognitive biases, and overwhelming frustration. But sin, no, not any more.

Life is complex, and relativity reigns. If an overarching and judgmental construct such as sin even existed in any tangible way, what constituted a sin would be enormously subjective! Perspective on this could probably vary by generation, religion, gender, and culture, and in reviewing history it seems those in power at the given moment get to choose who is sinning, and how.

Even a simple directive such as the Christian commandment to Honor your Father and Mother becomes a messy gray area if your father or mother is ordering you to break a different commandment, yes?

What content creator was naive enough to believe there could be 10 such rules that would never intersect? For instance, could a fib never help you better honor a parent? Is it not possible that stealing, a la Jean Valjean, could keep a child in your care from starving to death and thus you would then not be in any way responsible for the child’s “murder”?

I think we all yearn sometimes to live in a world that is certain, one as black and white as we believed it was when we were children. But that is not the world we occupy, and tightly gripping that ideal past its point of usefulness will help no-one.

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The Loudly Desperate

I’m rather jealous of Thoreau’s men of quiet desperation.  I generally experience my desperation loudly, obviously, flagrantly.

Yes.  I lead a life of loud, flagrant desperation.  Some days I wonder if others will smell it on me the way dogs supposedly smell fear. Perhaps I believe that keeping it quiet will be unhelpful; that sharing is purging.

I have not gotten many wrinkles in middle age, except for two deep creases between my eyebrows.  I don’t think that’s a coincidence.  It’s like my face is trying to announce, “There are things to be concerned about, and I’ve been trying to address them by thinking really deeply about them.  And being loudly desperate.”

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