“DO ASK DO TELL IV”: MORAL REDUX, PART 1
FEBRUARY 25, 2016 LEAVE A COMMENT EDIT
I’m creating a category “DADT-IV” to map through all my concerns over moral issues. No published book this time, just a series of linked blog posts.
But I need to introduce the series by being a bit blunt. OK, I landed out of my eldercare situation relatively well, with control of “inherited wealth”, something that I didn’t earn (although I could argue about a good portion of it). There are situations where external events could cause this to be “taken away” from me, by force. I might not get it back. That can lead to situations where others could bargain with me about the course of the rest of my life.
At my age, 72, there are always risks – we think most of them are medical. Maybe so, but pure momentum can help out with those: you really don’t need to give in to the way the medical establishment can mess with your life. (I’ll skip the political debate on Medicare and Obamacare right now, but you can imagine where I could go with it.) I’m more concerned about natural catastrophes, which provide a more significant risk than I am prepared for, and particularly with external hostility – whether armed aggression, asymmetric terrorism (religious or not), or more conventional crime (which has become more brazen in recent years), or even being framed, a security risk than a lot of us realize. All of these things are relatively unlikely at any particular point, but can lead to catastrophic, life-ending results. I would categorize the overall risk as “marginal”, maybe even bordering on “slight” that one of these events would eventually (not frequently) happen.
The other side of this problem is what others want – more focus from me on their specific needs, rather than continuing to function as a public pundit. More skin in the game in terms of relationships (even age-appropriate intimate relationships for anchors) that are “real”. More solidarity. One problem is that the “example” I set could reinforce the belief in some others who are less “lucky” that there is no point for them in “playing by the rules”, that the world they’ve inherited is meaningless to them.
I have become more conscious of the idea of having to respond to force or coercion in recent years, especially since 9/11 and then my eldercare issue. When I was working on my main long-track career, I had more sense of control of my own “fate”. But earlier in my life there was a setup that seems parallel. I was perceived as a “sissy” who was willing to leave the “mandatory” risk taking to others in the group. I wanted to focus on my own “special” talents that included music and academics but that did not require competing socially with other people or protecting people in a gender-related matter.
“Morality” in earlier times had as much to do with sharing risk and responsibility that goes with belonging to the “group” as it did with actually taking responsibility, after the fact, for choices one finally makes. That’s understandable in poorer tribal communities, faced with external threats and enemies. There’s no real choice about belonging, and one needs to be “competitive” enough to have a gender-appropriate relationship of one’s own, and have one’s own children, as an adjunct to “belonging”. So older, more conservative and perhaps religious cultures don’t tolerate “distraction” or expression that could interfere with others’ ability to have families at all. (This breaks down, of course, with practices like polygamy anyway.) In that sense, sexual conformity (and anti-homosexual attitudes) becomes a proxy for much bigger concerns about stability and having a place (however unequal) for “everyone”.
So I picked up on the idea of social competition, even though I tended to kibitz as a bystander. There was a logical paradox. I knew that people have to do some things together, and that someone has to be in charge. There was then, in my mind, a logical tendency to affiliate with those who “appeared” to be the most competitive (and “appearance” cues could be arbitrary indeed). That meant that those who were less competitive were potentially less “valuable” personally. (Sounds like Donald Trump already.) That logically could mean less motivation to learn the everyday practical skills in helping others with daily life, leading to openness to “real life” relationships. This sets up a vicious cycle, which could help explain my “autistic” to “schizoid” symptoms earlier in life. If this is allowed to be “OK” within the purvey of individual rights, there is a risk that a culture as a whole becomes more vulnerable to fascist beliefs, practices and leadership.
The value of my work is, in many ways, keeping track of history. I got into self-publishing and “blogger journalism” because of the “gays in the military” issue which was both big and small at the same time. Though affecting relative small numbers of people directly, it invoked sensitivities about privacy, dignity, and speech – and socialization — like almost no other issue, particularly for someone with my own life narrative involving a civilian college expulsion over dorm issues and later the military draft. Gradually, I started covering most contemporary news problems in a similar fashion. I do believe that, mostly with search engines, I’ve called attention not only to inadequately covered aspects of the military problem, but to issues like population demographics and the arcane issue of filial responsibility laws, and also to critical way-of-life issues like security for the power grids. I think it makes a difference that I am “there”.
Nevertheless, I get pummeled about willingness to be loyal to people closer to my own roots, and to my finding meaning in meeting their “real needs”. I get approached with the idea, “if you were raising an adopted child, you’d have to go out and work for somebody and sell stuff and manipulate people just like we do, so get real.” With my unusual life narrative becoming public, it really is difficult for me to go to work for narrow partisan “causes” or to “join” with various groups communicating need. I would like to work for media outlets in a properly conceived environment on critical problems where I’ve made “discoveries”.
Yes, what I do can be dangerous. It could make enemies, even though it hasn’t so far. It could even put others in contact with me in jeopardy. So far, my relatively obscurity as a “name” (much less notorious than Donald Trump) may have actually worked to my advantage. If I did “lose everything” due to attracting an enemy, or maybe to an unprecedented natural event, there would be no “go fund me”, no transplants, no commemorative memorial. An event like that would come across as payback, as karma. And the next time around, it might not be easy (I do think reincarnation is likely in some cases). Likewise, I can be pretty aloof when it comes to making someone else who experiences misfortune “all right” with personal interaction. So a hostile event really could prove very ugly. There is no honor in claiming victimhood.
I know this sort of thought stream invites a religious response. Part of me doesn’t like the idea of accepting “being saved”. But I am not above any problem someone else encounters. I can wind up in a homeless shelter too. I should not see myself as “above” shouting in a demonstration or even picket line. There is no way to be “right” all the time, and at least stay alive. Both John Travolta and quantum theory tell us that.
The other main response from others comes from a space of “aesthetic realism”. Others seem to believe that I am not open to intimate relationships in situations where they could “normally” be expected (factoring age), would provide support, and would narrow my focus on others. If I really “need” people “that way” to deal with life’s unexpected tribunals (the way others do sometimes), it’s easier if everyone else admits needing people the same way.
(Posted: Thursday, February 25, 2016 at 11:50 PM EDT)