It is my contention that each one our favorite subjects are ourselves. As a self proclaimed psychological egoist, I believe deeply in the inherit fallacy of altruism and its enabler faith. Faith, according to the apostle Paul, is the evidence of things not seen. I can think of no other paradox that has haunted me more deeply, tormented me more extensively, and shaped my personality more formidably.
As a boy, I was taught the standard protocol of decent Christian American charlatanisms: brush your teeth, look both ways before crossing the street, respect your elders, get baptized by the Holy Spirit or miss the Bride of Christ and spend a thousand years of affliction in a Godless dystopia. And like a boy, I believed all of it. Lacking discernment, these are the philosophies that blindly shaped my existence. Why couldn’t I just believe in the Easter Bunny or Santa like other kids? Ironically, I was taught those characters were evil. Actually, looking back, the litany of ironies grows exponentially with further reflection. Halloween was strictly forbidden even though the ominous Lucifer lurked under the bed. Of course, I haven’t flushed the proverbial baby down the drain entirely. I still practice oral hygiene and mostly try to avoid moving vehicles (old people scare me, though).
Don’t get me wrong, my parents are better-than-great people and I seldom hear this type of rhetoric from them anymore. They were just too eager for us; too fearful of a large world with too many mysteries; too many insipid and eerie souls prowling and scouring the wastelands for hapless victims to devour like savage and beastly dogs. Combine one part pious fear, one part otherworldly fairytales, one part good intentions and you get … me.
Of course, a part of me still cherishes these doctrines as harbingers of an inquisitive mind set. If I hadn’t learned these types of theological ideologue, perhaps my mind wouldn’t seek knowledge to begin with. Perhaps I would mull my way through life without a care in the world of what’s next, or why things work, or why people do good and ill, or the causes of and solutions to wars, pestilence, famine and poverty. Perhaps I would be a dullard: happy, comfortable and well-fed. But it is my shared belief with Socrates that the unexamined life is not worth living. I remember exactly when the faith of my youth withered. Sophomore year -first college try- I became engaged in certain readings, Nietzsche, Hobbes, Buddha, et al. Their philosophies actually made sense. To them, two plus two equaled four. It was so relieving! So simple! It was finally okay to not fill in the mysteries with fairy tales. Epistemology was my new favorite subject. It was the featured topic in all of my songs, poems and other writ and is still the guiding principle of my life. How do you know? What can you really know?
Regardless of how I got here, here I am. And I will use what I know -and more importantly, what I don’t- to create something infinitely more special than a tower to heaven. I will continue a legacy of imperfection, critical-thinking, and good intentions.
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