The older I get, the more I see what I’m about to describe. There will never be a day when I no longer see this:
Human beings have this tendency to look at someone and designate them as either friend or foe. It’s easy for people to turn on a dime about the ‘friend’ designation, but when it comes to turning around on the ‘foe’ designation …, that virtually never happens. Once someone deems you the enemy, they will never be satisfied until you are, in some way, destroyed.
I was trying to touch on this during my post on Tribalism, and even in my post The Desire for Conflict. They all relate to each other. They’re all virtually the same thing, just with minute variations in the wording to explain them. This particular subject gets under my skin the most. When someone is seen as ‘the enemy,’ it should be that person’s desire to end the hostilities, not the person themselves. But, nobody cares to do that because conflict is a part of human nature that can never be removed. We are never satisfied until the enemy is no more, whether their spirit breaks, or they move far away, or even die, only one of those outcomes makes people stop viewing another as the enemy.
Each and every time I’m in conflict with someone, the thing I want the most is to simply no longer be in conflict with them. It is the same when I see conflicts that have nothing to do with me: I just want it to stop. Our species doesn’t have to clash anymore, especially with all the advances we’ve made socially and technologically. We don’t need to conquer tribes for resources anymore, we don’t rely on ‘the will of the gods’ anymore (because we don’t need religion to explain things anymore), etc. Yet, we still fight. Small scale and grand scale, the conflicts never end. Nobody would do it if nobody wanted to do it.
As a child, I assumed everyone else hated conflict as much as I do. Clearly, I was wrong, and that was one of the things that has damaged my spirit. Actually, I grew up assuming everyone was like me: That everyone was altruistic, patient, imaginative, selfless, and they all had a playful side just waiting to come out. I thought when people mess up (like my mother, for example), all you have to do is give them a little time, and they’ll always come around. It happened in movies all the time, so why not in real life, too? As a child, I thought the world was already a perfect place, with only small slip-ups here and there. Nobody was completely self-serving, nobody was completely closed-minded, nobody was completely unwilling to see eye-to-eye. I thought that when I go to heaven, it’ll be the same as Earth, just cooler.
This is still all I want for the world. I just want everybody to get along. Come on, it’s really not difficult. And yet, it is.
Take this blog, for example. All I do on it is write down my thoughts. Sometimes people disagree, and then they engage with me so that we can come to a mutual understanding and thus expand our knowledge. That’s great. However, equally as often, people decide that they can’t tolerate my differing viewpoints and they try to comment how I’m a horrible person and they hope bad things happen to me. Or, like most recently, they just say, “You’re wrong!” and then leave it there because they just HAD to react loudly. I used to have a rating system on this blog, where people could rate the quality of each post. I had to remove that when someone (just one person) decided to go through my entire archive spamming every article with one star. They just couldn’t live with the fact that I’m not precisely what they want me to be. They just couldn’t leave it alone. They just couldn’t live and let live.
Or, take the family I married into 2 years ago. I know everybody jokes about their in-laws being a nightmare, but these people actually were a nightmare. Constant, and I mean constant, gossiping and backstabbing with those people. Everyone was either fighting or bitching about each other behind their backs. Sometimes they’d joke, “Our family is like a reality show ha-ha-ha.” Yes, so fucking funny. Absolutely hilarious how you people can’t stand each other, and yet you’re all each other has, and so you just keep going along with it. How comical. Honestly, never have I seen so many people be so aware of their issues and yet in so much denial at the same time. And it doesn’t end there. I’d continue to describe them, but that’d take too much space in this article, and I’m saving that story for another time.
With what I’ve come to realize about the world throughout my life … it’s the reason I’m so drawn (and kind of clingy) to people who are better than the world. About 9 years ago, I met a Christian family who was friends with one of my friends. They had a huge, beautiful home (meaning they were wealthy), but they were some of the wisest and kindest people I’ve ever met. I only visited this family two times. I was never close to any of them (they were only friends-of-a-friend, after all), but they left a huge impression on me to this day. I named a certain family in my upcoming novel, Relics, after them. My point is, to this day I still wish I could visit them again and actually start being close to them. What’s stopped me? Well, the parents only had girls, and it would have looked like I’m only trying to be in their life to date one of them or something. Nobody would believe me if I said, “No, I really do like you people. All of you! Equally!” So, I just let it go.
But, the parents of that family were some of the wisest, most welcoming people I’ve ever met. I got into a conversation with the father for a solid hour or two about philosophy and Christianity, and he talked to me like my equal, not like he was better than me simply because he was a Christian, or because he was ‘older and more experienced.’ Same with the mother. Not to mention, even though I was virtually a stranger to this family, they had me mark my height on their living room column; something only friends and family did. They barely knew me, but welcomed me to put my name on their column anyway.
This family was so happy, so wise, and so … just amazing. Everyone who reads my blog knows my best friend’s family is the same way: Altruistic, welcoming, forgiving, wise, etc. And hell, even my ex-wife’s family is that way. The people I’ve described are not her biological family, they are her stepfamily (the ones who raised her the most). Her mother’s parents are wonderful people, her father and his side of the family are wonderful people as well. Then, there’s my former foster family who I have also talked about extensively… My point is, the world isn’t lacking great people. It isn’t lacking wonderful, kind, selfless people. This is why I say don’t let anybody tell you that every family is dysfunctional. That’s nonsense. Most families I’ve known were quite close. Every family has its problems, but that doesn’t mean those problems are always immense. This is why when I see an actual dysfunctional family, it disgusts me. No family needs to be dysfunctional. It’s really not that hard to get along with people.
So, how do dysfunctional families even come into being? From what I’ve observed, it’s usually only one or two people in a family who ruin it for everyone. It’s usually an alcoholic, or a junkie, or sometimes even a delinquent. Sometimes, it’s someone who shits on everyone around them for no damned reason, and I’ll give three examples…
With my biological family, this person was my mother. She was the black sheep. She has 8 siblings. I’ve met most of her siblings, all of whom seemed like pretty decent people, and they all said the same thing: “We have no idea what her problem is.” They told me how my mother has spent the past 20+ years disappearing, then reemerges out of nowhere just to pick a fight with the family, without naming anything directly that anyone did wrong, and then she disappears again. Back when they were all kids, my mother caused strife for the whole family, to the point one of my uncles (her brother) said he disowned her. He told me, “I disowned your mother all the way back in the 70s.”
Same with my ex-wife’s stepfamily. There were two people, not just one, who seemed to ruin it for everybody. They’d all be pretty wonderful people as well, if it weren’t for those two. At least with my mother, she had the decency to disappear for years at a time (though it wasn’t for anyone else’s sake), which allowed the rest of her our family to have relative peace for a while. Not in this case, though. These two people neither attempt to fix their issues, nor will they leave like my mother did. And it’s always weighed everybody down, including and especially my ex-wife. But again, that’s a story for another time.
Some people just can’t help themselves. They just can’t. They lack wisdom, they lack a generous nature, and they shit on everything they can get away with. They do good things on occasion just to be able to ‘buy’ doing shitty things. That’s what makes them feel good. Peace isn’t what they crave, it’s conflict, and more importantly, winning the conflicts they start. With families, or with the world as a whole, it always, always only takes a small few to ruin it for the rest of us.
So, was I completely wrong as a child thinking everybody was just like me? Not completely. I’ve been hurt more times than I can count, by people who I thought never would or never could. It didn’t make me feel the world is just a shitty place (I mean, it kind of is, but not because of the majority of the population), it instead makes me feel very unlucky. I was born to people like my lunatic mother and sociopathic father, who both damaged the lives of their offspring. But my parents aren’t everybody; I just got unlucky. I tend to have bad luck a lot.
All I want is for the world to be better than it is. Again, we don’t need conflict. 99% of every conflict I see/am part of, I think to myself, “This doesn’t need to happen.” But, somebody always has to be selfish, somebody always has to be too immature to talk things through. Sometimes, people are far more interested in winning than coexisting. These people always have and always will disgust me.
When my ex-wife and I first started dating, you know what she told me made her fall in love with me? She never made any mention of my body, my face, my talents, or anything else people usually are attracted to. All she ever described being attracted to was my principles, and how strongly I cling to them.
Yes, I have strong principles, but I don’t think that makes me special. The place where my principles come from is quite simple: All I want is for the world to be better than it is. I want people to be better than they are. Earth should be a place where we run around and have fun, saving the difficult stuff for when it’s time for that. Work and play. But we don’t need to fight. Don’t fight when you can talk. Don’t fight when you can make a deal. Nobody needs to be selfish, nobody needs as much as they can take. Yet, those kinds of people exist and always will. My ‘strong principles’ come from my desire to see this kind of shit gone forever. We only get this one life.
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