Apologia

I am a big, ugly, mess of fail.

It’s called being human. It’s called being raised in the same world that produced Ann Coulter.

In my time writing for an ill-fated scandal-that-got-reported-in-papers website, the editor said to me, “You write to learn.” And she (er, he) was right. And I was writing about oil contracts in the Middle East and Africa, and fighter jets, but the principle here is the same.

There is stuff I wrote in March on here that I no longer agree with. I don’t just think that’s ok, I think that’s how it should be. I think if we stop learning and progressing, we’re fucked. Even at my age. And I write to learn. That’s true. So no matter how certain of something I seem when I write, I could believe something else the next day, if I’m presented with reasons.

Recently I said something that really offended someone. They didn’t approach me about it; I saw it on their Tumblr. I messaged them and asked if I could post their response on here (I know Tumblr is public, so technically I do not need consent, but I prefer.). I’ve done this in the past, actually, where I was asking for  trans character on the show and a trans person was annoyed by it, because he believed Glee wouldn’t handle it right. I posted his Tumblr response too, for discussion, with his consent.

This is how I roll.

For a blog I started to simply keep myself sane while still obsessing over Glee and not driving my wife around the bend, this has been an awful lot of fun. Of you commenters and contributors whose characters I know now, I know that there isn’t one who I can match intellectually. Guys, I don’t even have a degree. I flunked out. I learn from you guys every single day.

Anyway, I didn’t receive a reply. And that kind of hurt. It didn’t hurt like a friend blanking me, but I have all those people-pleasing issues that I’m supposed to have because I was raised a girl, so it still hurt. Because all I want to do is talk about it and become smarter, understand better and get it. But I won’t beg and I certainly won’t publish without consent.

I write (and talk) to learn. I want to discuss and learn, and I don’t mind being told I’m wrong. I mind being told I’m not allowed to talk about it. I will never, ever learn that way. I also live in a world where people not inside my words discuss them non-stop. I am not sure why I cannot discuss the words of another when I am sincerely striving to understand.

My mom says that every 7 years, our lives change in some consequential way. For me, that’s pretty true (and while I struggle with labelling 0-7 and 7-14, 14-21 was religious 21-28 is gay, gay, gay, gay , gay 28-35 is domesticity) I feel like I already know what the next 7 years will bring too. But my religious years didn’t just disappear. They left me with some things that I will never let go of. One of those things is awareness of sin in ourselves and in others.

I am sexist (so are you)

I am homophobic (so are you)

I am transphobic (so are you)

I am ableist (so are you)

I am racist (so are you)

I am ageist (so are you)

I am sizeist (so are you)

I am xenophobic (so are you)

Because we grew up in the same sexist, homophobic, transphobic, ableist, racist, ageist, sizeist and xenophobic world that everyone else did. I’m not ever going to try and play the “perfect” game. I’ve learned I shouldn’t be those things and I know the only way to not be those things is constant vigilance: of my own thoughts, of the words and deeds of myself and  others around me, of the content of the media I consume. It’s not easy and I’m better at some of those than others. But at my age, even my friends who were once radical are getting stuck in their ways, to the dismay of young people (and so it has always been).

I refuse. I try to make sure I’m reading people who are a lot younger than me (Want to see the future? Talk to kids.). I’m not going to be the person who doesn’t get it anymore. I’m always going to side with progress and the future because what’s the fucking point of siding with the past?

But what I needed to write today is this. Every bit of good that has ever been done in the world is flawed in some way. A book that was radical twenty years ago is probably objectionable now on a number of counts. Does that mean it didn’t do any good? Not even kind of. We can only do the kind of good we have in us, and we have to trust that the world, as it progresses, will dispose of the fail that accompanies our attempts to make the world a better place. Want to talk about Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and Clinton?

Henri Nouwen, in his book “The Wounded Healer”,  seems to assert you can only help heal when you all have left are scars. I would disagree and say that healing can be done by those of us with ugly, gaping wounds, but the trick is not being freaked out by another’s wounds so much that you can’t accept what is whole about them.

Thanks for either reading this or skipping over it. Because whatever else, I needed to write it so that I can keep writing.

(PS in vaguely proofreading this, I have removed problematic wording. Still working on it. Have I missed anything else?)

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6 thoughts on “Apologia

  1. “I write to learn. That’s true. So no matter how certain of something I seem when I write, I could believe something else the next day, if I’m presented with reasons.”

    Yes, absolutely. I always tell people that I’m a declarative person, and I’m extreme, so I make extreme declarations as though they were my heart’s blood, but really, that’s just how I talk. And I write like I talk. And I might learn something tomorrow and come back and declare something new just as loudly. It doesn’t mean I’m wishy-washy or trying to get a reaction from people — I truly never mean to upset anyone, I cringe at hurting people, even NASTY people — I’m just the sort of person who doesn’t feel embarrassment about changing her mind.

    I can also say, “I was totally wrong and I’m so sorry!” like it’s nothing, because it IS nothing to me and everything to the other person. We don’t LOSE anything when we learn (and in the process learn we were wrong), or we apologize, or when we ask for what we need. I know this culture in which we live has tried to teach us that these things are humiliating, and diminish us, but screw it: our culture is chock full of wank, am I right?

  2. I loved this, as someone who tries to play the perfect game all too often, and, as you might guess, it’s impossible.

    “Every bit of good that has ever been done in the world is flawed in some way.”

    *is that my heart catching in my throat?*

    You’re awesome.

  3. bravo I have become an avid reader of your blog not just as a gleek but because this is a witty and insightful social commentary and your latest has just increased my respect and admiration for you, I think people take things too much to heart but through our words we grow-I look foreward to your next installment

  4. Someone much smarter than me once said “The unfortunate truth is that none of us burst out of Zeus’s cranium completely endowed with all the wisdom and knowledge in the universe.” We fuck up. If you own that, learn from it and put a new foot forward the next day that’s the best you can do.

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