layers

found this in the archive of text/doc files on my backup drives….

As online socialites, we are people who will probably never meet. Since our few contacts are all online and prescribed by the limits of a discussion boards, IMs, and chat rooms. We will not get to know each other as well as people who see each other week after week day after day, able to hear vocal inflections, study body language, and observe caffeine preferences (I’m a Mountain Dew addict myself).

In the movie Shrek, the title character tells his friend the donkey that ogres are like onions; they have layers. I think that is an excellent simile for my personality, selfhood, soul–whatever term you wish to use when examining what makes me an individual. I will explore my layers. Some are paper-thin and fragile, while others are thick, tough, and perhaps even smelly

the first layer I call this my benign indifference layer. Why can’t people mind their own business? I will not tell any woman she should or should not terminate a pregnancy. I also do not care if my neighbor is gay. If these actions are immoral, the people engaging in them will eventually be called to account by a higher power. They don’t need me marching in front of their house with a sign.

My spiritual layer is the next level to explore. I was taught to fear God in the Old Testament sense of the world. I was raised on a steady diet of guilt. I operate on the assumption that almost everything I do is probably racking up debit points on the great eternal tally sheet. Naturally, such an attitude does not make for a happy life. However, after so many years of God-guilt, I have gradually developed a fatalistic view of my relationship with the Almighty. Since I’m never going to be able to measure up to what I’ve been taught I should be, I’ve quit worrying about it. I do the best I can, and if God can truly read all hearts, He/She knows that and will take it into account. If God is the wrathful Jehovah of the Old Testament, I’m screwed.

No matter who or what God is, I suspect that many people have it all wrong. I cannot believe that God approves of beating someone to death because of their sexual orientation. I do not believe that God approves of hijacking a plane and flying it into a skyscraper. I will not believe that slaughtering “heathens” or “heretics” or “unbelievers” will earn anyone a mansion in the sky or a garden full of hot virgins. I think some people are in for an unpleasant surprise when they check in to eternity.

Going deeper, and we run into my heritage. My family is Arabic, Irish, and German. I unfortunately have all the prejudices that were conveniently handed down to me. I loathe all kinds of people, but usually individuals, not groups. In my family, our greatest contempt is reserved for what we call “trash”, and I truly don’t care if that trash is white, brown, or green. If the people on the Jerry Springer Show are not actors, they should all be sterilized and sent to work on a collective somewhere. There is no excuse for living like your life goal is to be featured on America’s Most Wanted. My family is poor, but we worked and stayed out of trouble. We didn’t spend our time fighting, drinking, and sleeping with our neighbor’s wife. Because of my family background, I do not have the sympathy for the poor that I should have. On one hand, I don’t think anyone in this country should have to go to bed hungry or cold. On the other hand, stupid decisions lead to lousy consequences. The old cliché about welfare mothers using food stamps to buy Twinkies has a grain of truth in it; I’ve worked in a convenience store and witnessed that behavior. In fact, I’ve worked a great many places that I would rather have avoided, but I’ve always felt that if I didn’t take care of myself, no one else would. I’m probably smarter than many poor people, so perhaps it’s unfair for me to expect them to make good choices.

In conclusion, I’m probably like most people, sort of all right and sort of a jerk. I expect that my self will continue to evolve somewhat for as long as I live, but I do not expect to wake up tomorrow and discover that I am some holy being. In other words, it may be too much to expect that the onion layers will ever turn to rose petals.

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