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Who Am I to Tell You Anything?

Posted by spritzophrenia on August 20, 2010

Are there some journeys that should never be started? There are people who know me in real life who might sneer on hearing I’m seeking higher reality again. These are people I’ve hurt, lied to, or (think they) know my failings. I’m far from perfect. Even when I turned my back on a religious path, I’ve been a hypocrite in my new path. I’ve criticised other views on this very blog, it’s only fair I turn the lens on myself.

I Was Wrong

I started this journey not wanting to share much about me. Spritzophrenia was supposed to be about the ideas and conclusions, not my self. I’m not that interesting, I’m not that worthy. But the stories are inseparable, and I’m really not proud of some chapters. I feel distress at my own ethical off-the-wagon times. Oh there’s been plenty of failure, moral turpitude, poverty, despair and general crapness in my life: Hear my confession.

I hurt people. I cut off contact with my parents and one of my sisters for a year when they annoyed me and let me down. I’ve lied, and lied again about important things. I’ve broken promises. I’ve stolen. I owe good people money, and don’t know when I will repay it. I may be on a slippery slope to alcoholism. I was once so angry and frustrated I attacked my girlfriend’s car with a chair, smashing a light.

Others question my motives, sometimes rightly, sometimes wrongly. I once overheard a conversation about me getting on my “high horse”. I’d always thought I came across as fairly humble? I wrote earlier about how hard this is for me.

While I think one should be measured by one’s own conscience, it doesn’t really matter which moral code you measure me against. I’ve broken most of the ten commandments. I don’t walk in the eightfold path, I’m deeply attached. Insofar as the golden rule suffices for Secular Humanism, I ain’t been golden. Insofar as the “Love God and love other people” of Jesus, nope. Even Augustine’s “Love god and do what you want” leaves me wanting.

Though I can point to reasons, philosophies and religious paths that enticed me, I make no excuses. My atheism, nihilism and Satanism were nascent anyway, the labels became convenient excuses. I might have been bad even if I embraced Hasidism. Sometimes I thought my actions and thoughts were ‘right’ at the time, only to be confounded by them, sometimes years later. I take responsibility for what I’ve done and I’m reaping what I’ve sowed.

I Walk The Line Between Good and Evil

I recommend listening to Alien Sex Fiend’s I walk the Line.

more below

This apple’s rotten to the core

Get up, off your knees

Get down on the floor

You wouldn’t listen [to me], and I don’t blame ya

I’m already in the gutter, next stop is the drain

[Full lyrics.] I note one can still make nice cider from rotten apples.

Are We Moral?

Some will no doubt point to my christian past and infer an over-inflated sense of guilt. But to be perfectly honest, I didn’t have much guilt when I was a Christian— it gave me a sense of freedom from guilt.

I think we have an inflated idea of how good people are. A piece in the NZ Listener some years back indicated just how common white collar crime is; good moral people just like us are cheating on their taxes and their spouses. I’m not worried about whether lying is equivalent to murder, it’s the general point I’m driving at. What does it take to be a moral person? To always do good? Do good most of the time? What percentage of good makes us a good person? Is there such a thing as one’s “character”? “We’re good people. We just do bad things.” (Larry Norman)

The idea that the christian g0d wants to help us escape our tendency to damage, looks on the money. (If she exists.) The phrase so often quoted by evangelists “All have sinned, and fallen short” seems to ring rather more true than we might like to admit. Christians— the ones who know their theology at least— don’t claim we are as bad as we possibly can be. Only that we are distorted. Like a drop of ink in a glass of water discolours the whole thing.

“If I believed in God, if I believed in sin, this is the place I’d be sucked straight to hell.” (~ Dexter, Season 2 Episode 2) Some think believers parade triumphantly into heaven. I think many of us will crawl there, relieved and surprised.

Only those who are broken can accept being whole.




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37 Responses to “Who Am I to Tell You Anything?”

  1. Iain said

    (your click to share a comment link isn’t working for me)

    Great post, if “great” is an appropriate word to use. I’m very grateful that you would share of yourself so openly rather than keep it all about ideas… safe and at a distance.

    I’m also surprised to hear some of it. Of the bad, I am not one to hold it against you and your confessions certainly don’t lessen my opinion of you. I’m thankful for your honesty. I’m also glad if you feel that you can do your best, whatever that means for you, and make a go of making your life better for yourself.

    I don’t have anything fantastically philosophical to add. Perhaps this wouldn’t be the place even if I did. One thing I do want to say, though, is that I’m getting less impressed by the whole idea that people are bad. I mean, some Christians say that people are bad, the world is bad, and both people and the world are getting worse by the day (ending in some armageddon, I presume). I don’t believe that. I think that sometimes people do bad things for all sorts of reasons, some “good” reasons (ironically) and some not so good. But I think that people also do good in much the same way: good out of cowardice, good out of selfish self-interest, good out of genuine care, and sometimes good for probably no “good” reason at all. People are people. I say give them a chance and don’t pigeon-hole them out of one action (good or bad). I have hope for the the future and hope in people; I think hope is what will see us all flourish.

    • Thanks. A scary post for me to publish.

      (fixed the link too, thanks for the heads up)

      Today I am agnostic (what else) on the “essential character” of humans πŸ™‚

  2. SugarPop said

    In a word – brilliant.

    Like you I am flawed and broken and at times faithless. You are not alone.

    Deepest gratitude for sharing so openly with us, and keeping the privacy of those affected by your actions intact.

  3. SugarPop said

    And GREAT song !!! πŸ˜€

  4. leesis said

    By golly by gosh you hit nails on heads don’t you Jon πŸ™‚

    I have always wanted to present a ‘Diagnostical and Statistical Manual of Personal Fuck Ups’ (sorry if lingo offends anyone)to be released at the same time as the DSM for psychiatry. In it we would all confess how we didn’t meet up to our own expectations, how we chose selfish considerations over ‘ethical’ actions, how we actually lied, cheated, stole, thought homocidal thoughts etc etc.

    I have a short list of ‘truths’ that I’ve been building over my life and number two is simply ‘If everyone truly bared their souls they’d no longer think they were anything more than beautifully human. Within each and everyone of us lives saint/sinner, thief/contributor, murderer/lifegiver.

    So many folk when finally confessing their deepest evil after supressing/struggling/resisting/nuclear bombing their own inner beings; are amazed to find others that do it/think it/ screw it up too!

    I wrote a while ago of my gorgeous then 7 year-old god-son rejecting god because he was not a sinner. And he’s not, nor ever will be as far as I’m concerned. He will be simply what we all are…

    Beautifully human!

  5. ‘I think we have an inflated idea of how good people are.’

    I am wayyyy too good.

  6. ‘Only those who are broken can accept being whole.’

    wow and oy.

  7. leesis said

    Personally the terms good and bad, even optimistic and pessimistic are not really relevant. The point for me Jon is that you listed your, lets say, less than best moments. If you follow that up then with the times you’ve given not taken, told truth when it was easier to lie,helped folk rather than hurt them….

    Then we’d see balance. The interesting thing is….when I used to ask folk to list ten percieved faults in their personality they’d have no problem. But, when I ask them to come up with ten positive aspects they would struggle terribly. We are taught from so young to judge and judge with an eye to fault.

    yes I think we are beautifully human…and I hold that thought along side awareness of all wev’e yet to learn to be even more amazing.

    Oh and if we here in Aussie vote in ‘that’ man today… prepare Jon…my son and I are moving to Kiwi land!!!! πŸ™‚

    • ‘helped folk rather than hurt them….’ yes.

    • I’m aware that the good vs bad dichotomy can be problematic. And I think that it’s helpful to think about other ways of phrasing it, thankyou.

      However, aren’t these just semantics in the end? Whether we use “beautiful”, “helpful” or “good” aren’t they talking about the same thing?

      Well, maybe not – “good” talks about character whereas “helpful” talks about an action. This is me playing devils advocate with myself.


      haha, WHICH man? I’m only aware of the Aussie elections ‘cos friends tweet about it πŸ™‚

      You are welcome here, we need more good people. I mean beautiful people.

      • leesis said

        WHICH MAN…oh dear…the dogmatic roman catholic one that wants to be our PM!

        No, I don’t think its semantics. I thinks it deeper than that. I guess when I say beautiful it comes from a very deep place in me that sees both the strengths and weakness’ in folk and under that sees our humanity, our desire to grow, so I guess, our inherent goodness (oh bloody hell now I’ve done it).

        Arrggg, words are so difficult here but I truly believe, both through study and life that the outward behaviour of the human being is the most inaccurate indicator of the quality of a human being.

        And in case I sound too wanky…can’t stand most people, which makes me bad…but love them all dearly…which makes me good? I have regular ‘god I wish I could slap you’ moments…which makes me bad, but I don’t follow thru as I’m a committed pacifist…which makes me good? And lordy could I go on :).

  8. Fairy Wyrd said

    I was watching The Secret the other night, a loaner from a friend as she thought I might get something out of it. One comment that is made in it is about how we can say “But I came from a dysfunctional family, things happened in life.” After a bit of research, and some statistical analysis, it turns out 85% of us come from a dysfunctional family and/or crap in our lives. Wow, we’re the ‘normal’ one’s now.

    I know I have done things in my life that I do not want to admit to. I have in the last year been exploring Nichiren Buddhism and have found an immense difference in my life. What makes us human, I think, is the ability to make these mistakes and learn from them. To grow from them and (eventually) stop repeating these things.

    So, J thank you for sharing πŸ™‚ You are truly brave for baring yourself to the world. You’re braver than me πŸ˜‰

  9. meryl333 said

    “Forget you perfect offering. There is a crack, a crack in everything.
    That’s how the light gets in” Leonard Cohen – Antheme

    Trauma is an opening to the divine. If everything was just hunky dory, we’d be like rats nibbling on the tasty riceballs they put outside the warehouse to keep us away from the real treasure inside.

  10. Giraffegirl said

    Loving that you are ‘coming out’ so to speak (can’t work out how to do emoticons here – add a wink)

    In my head I have thought about it as colours – mostly I only let people see one colour even though I have many. I like that I am getting to see more of your colours. Nothing is ever as simple as good or bad – there are always motives and reasons and brain connections and history that we don’t always have a choice about. For what it is worth I think you are that interesting.

    • Ooh, I like your ‘colours’ analogy πŸ™‚ [ Just type ; ) without the space to get a wink here ]

      And thanks for thinking i’m interesting, GG πŸ™‚

  11. joshilan said

    anyone without flaw don’t get born into creation
    This dichotemous realm is the very penetentiary for souls evolution
    Its by way of exposure to dark that light is reflected – manifest back to itself
    In reality there is no dark only light
    No imperfection only perfection
    Imperfect separateness is a dream
    The illusion takes on reflection of reality
    But when these curtains of imperfection are drawn back
    Only reality shines forth in clear state of the awakening

  12. Lee said

    I found this blog via one of your comments on the No Longer Quivering blog. Weird.

    Anyway, this post is so right on. It is hard to admit our personal failings, especially on a public blog. I too have done things of which I am not proud, but I figure it all amounts to progress: your ability to acknowledge your mistake, forgive yourself, and become a better person, not in spite of it, but because of it.

  13. Anne said

    Jonathan, I don’t know why I missed this post before, but I’d gotten a bit behind for a couple weeks… and mousing down the list tonight, lo and behold there is was. I was humbled by your writing here, and with each sentence I was brought back to my own emotions (guilt/shame) about things I wish I could do-over, or still can hardly look in the eye. The prior comments here are great; I, too, appreciate the idea of looking for the beauty in us. My mother and stepfather met in AA when I was 11. A very difficult period of my life followed, but I also learned a lot. My parents did a lot of “AA” talk, about moving forward one day at a time, etc. My stepfather became an alchoholism counselor. I met people with down-and-out stories and I learned about hitting bottom and crawling out. I know there is wrong and right and I know I’ve made a lot of mistakes. I also believe in context, compassion, and forgiveness, including self-forgiveness. That doesn’t mean forgetting… it means (to me) having compassion for the context of where we were, and making new choices based on better self-respect. It seems to me that what you’re doing with the blog is an act of compassion toward yourself and your readers. I’ve never thought you were saddled up on any horse. You’re just a guy trying to walk, and you have other people trying to walk with you. I’m really glad you wrote this post. It will help remind me that I have a “shadow” side that walks with me, as we all have. Namaste, my friend.

  14. I can’t contribute a meaningful comment but I wanted to stand up, throw rose petals and yell “Bravo!” It takes courage to bear one’s soul like that. Everyone hides their “weaknesses”, “failings”, etc. We all think we’re the only one that has done “that” (that=whatever bad thing). So many things I have done and NOT done that I still cannot speak about.

    You have opened a door here.. a door to a beautiful world.
    Thank you and ((hugs)).

  15. Brian Sage said

    You sound like a normal human being! Don’t put yourself down too much – move on. You never know what may show up around the corner.

    • Thanks Brian.

      I hope maybe this allows others to feel safe admitting they are normal human beings too.
      I don’t put myself down, or at least I try not to. That doesn’t help. But I do think honesty does, I never want to forget where I came from lest I do bad things again.

  16. meryl333 said

    I’m reading AGAIN, “When Things Fall Apart”–Heart Advice or Difficult Times. We are all broken in some way. Chodron’s quote is appropriate here ” Rather than persecuting yourself or feeling that something terribly wrong is happening, right there in the moment of sadness and longing, could you relax and touch the limitless space of the human heart? ” Chodron speaks to me because she’s been through a lot of difficult times and has found her way out through self analysis, acceptance, love and discipline. Highly recommend for people who are looking for ways to move through troubled pasts.

  17. […] I also like to keep this blog interesting, and at times I write quite personal stuff. See this post, for instance, where I expose my own moral failings. Also, as a teacher I need to be careful not to […]

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