Gentleman and scholar: How to be a good person in a terrible world inhabited by terrible people
Let me be the first to say that I am not writing this just for the sake to validate my own string of impulsive actions that I have engaged in during the years after that the fragile bubble I like to call my innocence began to fail me. For the longest time, I was terrified to subject myself to the cruel and desensitized cluster muff that is known as the world, mortified that like so many others, I would be consumed by the trivial horrors that stifled cognizance, decreased self-awareness and engage in the litany of chemical madness brought on by hormones, pornography, jarring music and Jack Daniels. I did become consumed. And I enjoyed it.
Unfortunately, like so many others, my glass sphere of innocence and naïveté was shattered at a young age; my eyes forced open by the hands that beat them shut at age nine. For the first time in my life, I was aware of global warming, illicit substances and domestic abuse. Like so many others, these “traits” of society were not projected through the glowing screen that infects the unrefined mind, but through my own experiences.
It was these occurrences where my innocence refused to endure the punches that the world’s influence threw like a prizefighter, and I began to absorb the blows of unprecedented evil that existed in my life.
For a time, it engulfed my being. I began to scream in jealously at those that were blessed with ignorance to suffering. I wanted to destroy them, because they embodied something that I felt like would never return to me. I happily participated in walking the razor’s edge of chaos, walking the tightrope between the euphoria that came with MDMA and sheer oblivion, and I happily encouraged those to join me, hoping that they too would be gain a malformed sense of wisdom coexisting with me and my own misshapen identity. For a time, I believed the only way to approach the world’s insanity was to match it with my own impulsive logic, a lack of self-awareness and heavy drinking.
However, I have learned that this is far from the most effective method to the society’s self-inflicted madness. Stumbling through the run-of-the-mill party, forcing myself to observe each individual instance of chemically induced debauchery, sloppiness and implied consent, I saw the innocence of others dissipate like the smoke from my half-lit cigarette. I realized the struggle was real, not only within myself, but also in those individuals drinking, dancing, bumping, humping and groping. They too were engaged in the perpetuating skirmish for innocence and self-control in the midst of temptation’s overwhelming influence.
After this realization I began to ask myself painstaking questions: How long before even the most stalwart paragons of virtue surrender to the intoxicating taste of late nights, obscene affection and marijuana? How long before everybody’s innocence is crushed under the weight of their own life experiences?
The answer is simple in theory but difficult in practice: after the barriers that separate the purity of the soul and the power of the flesh are torn down, we must begin to reinvent ourselves, but with our refined awareness acting as the foundation, our heightened sensitivity to emotion as the mortar and our innocence the bricks. These are essential to the survival of our reinvented identity, because without these tools, we remain a broken pile of refuse, unable to create and unable to evolve.
If there is one aspect of humanity that causes my blood pressure to rise it is prejudice. I raise my middle finger to the very concept. I spit in its face. I want to take prejudice to a dark alley, beat it senseless, and then plant a slug in its head so that it will never have the opportunity to once again stalk those it seeks to destroy. Prejudice is the impostor of innocence, yet is haughty and arrogant. It will try to tell you that you are important and worthless at the same time. It will show you the world through muddy tunnel vision, and convince you of its clarity. It will introduce you to its friends hate and bitterness, allowing them to pour their words into your ears and darken your heart. All too often we confuse our preconceived, maladapted notions of “right” and “wrong” as innocence, holding in our minds the idea that “we” are perfect in our madness and “they” are not. Well, sorry to say this, but chances are you are probably just as screwed up as the rest of us. But that is okay. It is actually very okay.
Only in the moments that we begin to stop pointing the finger at others and pulling the thumb on ourselves can we truly begin to make sense of our own life experience. Only then can we begin to pick up the pieces to our oh-so-fragile childlike sense of the world and once again possess innocence, only this time stronger and more refined.
These are the moments that I live for. I will be the first to wear my sins on my sleeves, but keep my skeletons in my closet. I will continue to be immersed in the world’s excess, and my newly-discovered, corrupted sense of innocence will act as the spleen to my existence, filtering all the proverbial waste that it will offer me. And I will continue to bask in my imperfections and spit raspberries at those that pick up their step when walking by me, or look down their noses at me and my actions. We are but merely shattered menageries that were restored by gnarled hands, and for that reason, we are all the more unique. My corruptibility will forever and always be as plain as the scars on my body and the nose on my face.