Tag Archives: philosophy

I Contain Multitudes

24 Sep

(originally posted on DA)

This post will be a bit unusual. Not a rant, per se, but for a similar purpose. It will contain some details that might come across as uncomfortably personal, though.

Outside of my Blogress Reports, I tend to try not to talk about myself on the Internet a lot. I don’t like the idea of being one of those people who blogs or tweets their every random thought… partly because I prefer to keep certain things about myself and my thought process private, partly because I often doubt my random thoughts would be of interest to even the most bored readers.

It’s a paradox, then, the Internet is the primary outlet for my social life these days, the place where I feel I can most truly be myself and most clearly articulate my thoughts and feelings. As you readers may or may not be aware or have guessed, I’m on the autistic spectrum (specifically, I’ve been diagnosed with Asperger’s, though that’s no longer considered a separate thing from ASD). I have trouble with anxiety in social situations, even among groups of people I should comfortably fit in with, and I sometimes lack a conversational filter. Part of that is the genetics of ASD, and part of that is from growing up naturally shy, awkward, and introverted. Going out to a club or wild party has never been my idea of a good time; I’d much rather have a quiet dinner and conversation with a close friend.

However. The reason I don’t discuss my ASD much, online or in-person, is because I categorically refuse to be the kind of person that has their whole identity revolve around being neuro-atypical or what-have-you. I will not shout “I’m on the spectrum and I’m proud!” from the rooftops, or plaster logos for autism awareness all over my Facebook, or walk around wearing a shirt with a rainbow puzzle piece.

I am a person. I contain multitudes.

There are aspects of myself that I don’t talk about, or that aren’t apparent. There are layers to my personality that can’t be categorized easily. Not everything about me can be reduced to a series of checkmarks in little boxes.

For example. I detest the idea that I might come across as a weaboo, “weeb”, or wannabe Japanese. I love anime and manga, yes, and I’ve spent many years absorbing it, but I do not, nor have I ever, wanted to be Japanese. I love the culture, the language, the art, the philosophy, and the history of Japan, not just because Japan makes anime, but because I think understanding those things is key to understanding the art form. So no, I don’t wear a kimono in my downtime, I don’t exclusively eat ramen and yakisoba, I don’t try to talk to my friends in Japanese, and I hardly think Japan is the greatest country ever.

I have a sense of humor that isn’t always easily defined. I can get laughs out of sophisticated wordplay in a Shakespeare comedy, then turn around and crack up over a well-placed fart noise. To me, a well-crafted pun or a long, rambling, monologue-style joke is just as good for a chuckle as old-fashioned Three Stooges-style slapstick. In my opinion, the best kinds of comedy zoom from high to low and back again and everywhere in between, like Bo Burnham does, but I’ll rarely say no to something that sticks to one or the other.

I love cartoons and action figures, but I also love listening to melancholy music on rainy days while I compose poetry and ponder about what it all means. I appreciate both the driving, nonstop beat of early Crush 40 songs and the gentle notes of Bach’s cello concertos. I love Star Trek and Star Wars and Doctor Who and Firefly (and Farscape, which has recently jumped higher on my list). On the anime side of things, my favorites include both Lucky Star, a laid-back slice-of-life comedy set in the real world, and Evangelion, a famously hard-to-understand mind screw sci-fi deconstruction of the mecha genre. I love both South Park, which is about as offensive as it gets, and Steven Universe, which is gentle and kind and understanding in a way that never ceases to astonish me. I like both Batman and Superman (when they’re written right) and one of the reasons I so favor Marvel movies over the current DC ones is because Marvel’s are made by people who love, respect, and understand the universes and characters they’re working with.

So much of life these days is polarized. People say you have to be one thing or the other, and refuse to acknowledge that lines are often blurred. Even stuff like the previous sentence can be twisted into an us vs. them, black vs. white argument that can ignite months or years of flamewars. You have to be firm and take a stance on some things, yes, (see my documented feelings on Orange Muppet Hitler [thank you, Joss] and his ilk), but on others it’s perfectly all right to be gray.

I contain multitudes. We contain multitudes.

I don’t think that as people we can ever really understand the sum total of another person, no matter how well-documented their life is. Human beings are so many things: flawed, often nonsensical, contradictory, prone to anger and violence, but also capable of great beauty, wisdom, and acts of kindness. The world isn’t a happy place where everyone gets along and no one is sad or upset ever, but nor is it a festering crapsack run by lunatics and about to explode.

Maybe I’m just talking to myself, or maybe someone out there reading this is nodding and thinking “Yes, that’s right. BHS has got it right.” I don’t know. I’m a neuro-atypical young adult millennial American in the late-mid-10s, staring at the craziness of the world and trying to make sense of it all, what do I know?

All I really know is, I’m complicated. It’s all complicated. Not everything fits in a neat little box. I think we all need time to think it over.

– BHS

Neo-Millennialism: A Treatise

11 Sep

Reposted from The Daily Kos.

NEO-MILLENNIALISM: A TREATISE

I stopped being a Christian around ten years ago.

This wasn’t a decision that came easily. I was raised as a devout Episcopalian, and my father was a minister and chaplain for over thirty years. Both he and my mother graduated from Virginia Theological Seminary, and from a very young age they gave me a Christian Protestant upbringing.

However, at a certain age I began questioning: what makes one religion any more real or authentic than others? Didn’t the ancient Greeks worship Zeus as a god? What made that mythology and the Bible truth?

In my twenties, my faith wavered as I learned of all the horrors committed in the name of not just the Christian God, but all of them. Every brand of religion has been used to justify oppression, murder, slavery, poverty, genocide, or some combination of the above at one time or another. My twenties also saw me despairing as the Neoconservatives rose to power, and began using my God as justification to wage endless war on anyone who wasn’t white, male, rich, straight, right-wing, and Christian. The horrors of the Aughts and beyond shattered my faith in any sort of God that would allow such perversion of his words. I became an Agnostic, and after several months I confronted my father with my feelings. It took him a while, but he accepted my decision.

The problem still eats at me, though: religious extremism is tearing the planet apart, and there seems no way to fight back. How can you win against someone who claims to have God on their side? How can you win against the kind of blind, stubborn, willfully ignorant faith that claims that treating other people like shit is a divine right?

Maybe there is no rational answer.

So maybe it’s time for an irrational one.

Maybe it’s time to fight fire with fire.

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