Monday, October 31, 2011

What's the worst that can happen?

Is honesty really the best policy? Well, it depends on what you mean by "best." If you mean the most straightforward and true, then yes, honesty is the best policy. If you mean the way to get along with others and propagate this collective delusion of grandeur, then no, honesty might just be the worst policy.

I should note that I'm particularly jaded right now. Not ultimately, just right fucking now. This constant coat-checking of thoughts and ideas that EVERYBODY thinks but nobody dares to say is getting absurd. It's like we are all clinging to the belief that Santa is real although rather than a fat alcoholic in a suit, he's morphed into the manifestation of our ability to achieve lofty goals. We believe we can! But nobody has the balls to tell us we can't. I fucking hate Santa Claus.

Well, you can't. There. I said it. I'm sorry, but at some point enough is enough. How long are we going to pretend that everyone can really be president? Seriously. First of all, only a true sociopath would have the perverted glibness and ruthless perseverance to even become president, so I never understood why that was a positive thing. Also, most of us couldn't fucking do it. Sorry. We just can't. You can't do whatever you want to just because life would be better if you could. If I could do whatever I wanted, I would have done what David Freese just did for the St. Louis Cardinals rather than spill my guts to a room full of mandated drunks every fucking night. I would have loved to play professional baseball but I was simply not good enough. Repeat after me: NOT GOOD ENOUGH.

There is no shame in that. I'm actually quite pleased with what I'm doing. I know I sound pissed off right now, but I love stand up comedy. I really do. I love it so much that it hurts when I see it so marred by the same exact bullshit that pervades every single thing in our society: dishonesty. It's rampant. Why? What are we so scared of? The worst case scenario is that we find out we're not good enough. Well, of course we're not! We all die, you know. Did you know that? We fucking die. I don't know if you've dealt with that yet. I struggle with it nearly every day. At least once I think about the fact that I will be DEAD and gone forever. It can be terrifying. It's made even more terrifying by the fact that half the planet doesn't even let themselves admit this! They're in mass denial that somehow some universal force or destiny will save them from this fate. Well, it won't. They'll die just like all of us. That's about as flawed as it gets. Who gives a shit if you can't pen a truly original novel or disprove the four color theorem? ( That's all peanuts compared to the ticking of our existential alarm clock. Gah.

I'm not trying to be morose. In fact, I don't even think I am being morose. Death - along with all commonalities - should be a linking concept in humanity. We should come together over this fact and use the time we have to rock out on this planet. I'm getting off track...

The point is we have to be able to admit ourselves to ourselves. (That was not a typo.) Accept ourselves. I'm not saying we have to contrive our ideologies around our flaws so that the flaws dissolve into translucent strengths. But god damn it just be honest with ourselves. If someone is not honest with him/herself, then how the fuck are they going to be honest with the rest of the world? They won't. I need to learn how to edit.

Let's make it more specific. What frustrates me so much about everything is the constant self-censoring we have to do in order to spare everyone's own fraudulent image of themselves and their surroundings. Suddenly it's "mean" or "disrespectful" to not allow someone to continue making up a world in his/her head. You're a "prick" or an "asshole" if you tell someone what you actually think. I don't understand it.

I'm sure many people think things about me that they don't say. Although, I feel like the "asshole" and "dick" title are thrown my way very liberally. So much that I am aware of it. But I don't care. I'm aware that the way in which I interact with people comes off as abrasive, tactless, impolite, over the line and possibly offensive. I'm okay with this. It's not because I'm devoid of empathy and don't consider people's feelings; quite the contrary. I am deeply sensitive to the struggles and emotions of others. That's not a joke. I am so sensitive to them that I refuse to do them the disservice of sparing them my true thoughts.

For example, in stand up comedy, there are so many people in Chicago (literally hundreds), and elsewhere, who have absolutely no business doing this. None. "But who are you to say who can and who can't? Who made you king of everything?" I'm no one. I'm not even saying things that are that radical. There are a plethora of people who EVERYBODY knows should not be doing stand up. They are either bona fide awful or so painfully mediocre that there is just no hope in churning out a career in an already brutal and rigged industry. But we are not allowed to tell them! We must continue to allow these delusional robots aimlessly waste their lives as we stand by and pat them on the fucking back for doing it! It's insane. Not only that, but the collective refusal to be honest makes anyone (me) seem like a malicious lunatic if he (I) does say something.

I have absolutely no patience and tolerance for self-delusion. None. None of you do either, you're just not willing to categorize certain things as such yet. Let's say, for example, that I had not given up on my dream of playing professional baseball. Let's say every day I went to the batting cages for hours to hit 200 fast pitch cage balls. Me, the 5'10" Jewish man with slightly above average pure athletic ability. "Sorry guys, I can't hang out, I gotta hit the gym because Spring Training is gonna be here faster than you know." Would you applaud my effort? Would you say, "Good on you, man" for pursuing my dream? Or would you be tempted to help me in my obviously confused and possibly belligerent state? Which one is the "nice" thing to do? Which is more respectful? Frankly, if you were to allow me to continue to believe that I actually had a chance at playing professional baseball, you would not be my friend. You'd be a coward too afraid of emotional confrontation. In instances like these, the most respectful thing to do is to shatter the blatant delusion and then be there to help them pick up the pieces. This is something that 99% of people are afraid to do. It's much easier to say nothing. That's not a majority that people are going to proudly Tweet about either.

I'm not even suggesting that our reality is more "real" than theirs. We might be the deluded ones and they the enlightened. Okay, fine. But there is no "reality." It's all just a collection of various perspectives but it's not so relative that we cannot exert the force of our intuition on our surroundings. It's a discussion, a back-and-forth, a constant debate that never ends resulting in its own advancement without any concrete plateaus. That's life. Uncertain. I accept that. But that is no reason to stay silent. Silence kills.

It goes beyond comedy, of course. In public rhetoric, nobody is ugly; nobody is stupid; nobody is under-qualified; nobody is inept. Everyone is a great and wonderful creature with limitless abilities. Awesome. What a world that would be. Everyone is amazing yet somehow our world is in shambles. Must be that wretched 1%! It couldn't possibly be that we've been willingly dreaming because finding meaning in reality would just be too gosh darn daunting.

I think the roots of this conflict lie in the competitive nature of Capitalism. Pure competition (not for sport or tribalism), but just gaining an edge, etc. is not necessarily a healthy way to live. Rising to the top might feel productive (it might also be a chasm of emptiness) but only at the expense of the risk of stumbling to the bottom. The thing the president never mentions in his speech when he's lying to everyone about how America is #1 (in what category, may I ask?) is that in order to get there we had to incur the psychic price of oppressive imperialism and outright murder masquerading as humanitarian efforts and liberation movements. And that's just accepted. We are told from the get go a series of lies: America is the best, our founding fathers were uncontroversial geniuses, Santa and Jesus are BOTH real, God loves you, Heaven awaits you, love is exactly like the inventions of Hollywood screenwriters, your government cares about you, the world is evil. It's not. Most people are good. They are. We have just not been willing to accept the parts of us that aren't and it's spiraled out of control.

So, if this is the end result of a blatantly dishonest, delusional world, why not just turn the tides and be honest with yourself and with others? Seriously, amidst this dystopian backdrop, what's the worst that can happen?