The reality is what it is

I gotta say a few things today that shouldn’t need explaining but apparently do. Men and women can both behave like cretins — that’s a given. Might do so in slightly different ways, but whatever. People can be punks and bitches and jerks and act so selfishly that it blows the mind and makes one wonder how much capacity for deep and genuine love one another possesses. Doesn’t matter what sex one belongs to, each individual is capable of inflicting grievous emotional injury on others. Period.

We all do wrong at times, but we don’t all learn from it or try to do better. Men aren’t automatically more likely to recognize their failings and to make amends — no, that has not been my experience at all. In fact, I’d say most people put on blinders much of the time and prefer to remain ignorant to what they’re doing to others, yet focus gobs of attention on how they feel and how they’ve ever been personally wronged. It’s the self-centered prerogative, and we all possess it — can’t be helped. But I’d also say that some who seem like they’re the most friendly and sweet can actually be the most manipulative and scornful underneath it all, and what’s so tricky about those kinds of people is we don’t tend to see it coming. Plus, they tend to have the support of many others to where they bounce back more readily and their egos are insulated by the positive feedback they do regularly receive.

But we’re all humans and we all have egos we’re aiming to not have shattered. Some just take it to greater heights where they protect their egos even from bruises and scrapes by cloaking themselves in the belief they they are wonderful, well-accepted, popular people who do no serious harm. But if you refuse to look at yourself realistically and in the raw, how can you claim that as true? Because we prefer to believe something about ourselves doesn’t make it so, and it doesn’t absolve us from responsibility for our actions just because we have lots of support in our corner.

It’s no secret to me that I’m capable of doing wrong and harming people, and I have to stay on myself to try to do better. Yet, out here I’m dealing with people who seem to believe they’re above that, they’re inherently different, perhaps purer, and need not put forth any effort to check themselves. If others wind up hurt, it’s due to those other individuals lacking thick skin or shouldn’t have been snooping around in the first place or have done wrong ourselves to where we permanently forfeit the right to be offended forevermore. Basically, because we’ve proven to not be perfect and acknowledge this, our feelings wind up trivialized. It’s fine to make fools out of us, to deliberately lie to us, to exclude us, because they feel justified in using us. Why? How can someone reassure him/herself of what a great person he/she is if this is how they treat others? I’ve wondered about this for a long time.

Makes the whole concept of “the good person” look like a crock after a while. What’s so good about them? That they have the backing of so many others? That they live with an impenetrable illusion of their greatness? That they do wrong in secret where most others do not witness it, acting out against those who do are deemed “less than” whose perspectives and pain do not matter and will not be taken seriously by those claiming higher stature? What’s so good about any of that?

Seems to me plenty of so-called “good people” seek out whipping ponies they can shit on while still maintaining their quality image in the eyes of those they do wish to impress, because they’ve figured out how to keep it separated. We’re all in-group vs. out-group oriented, but frequently enough the ones we lay the heaviest burdens on and give the most shit are those closest to us, behind closed doors where colleagues and other respectable people out in society can’t see. That’s a face-saving strategy, not the sign of a genuinely decent and respect-worthy individual, and yet, isn’t it so common? Don’t we all know of people exactly that way? Perhaps we grew up in homes where we observed that same sort of dynamic among our parents and relatives. I know I did. And perhaps we ourselves are guilty of this at times too.

Competition abounds, and it seems something people are keen on competing over comes down to image rather than actual substance. So long as we look and behave a certain way while out in public we’re patted on the back and reassured. What we do in the shadows very often isn’t brought to the light, and we compartmentalize our lives to afford ourselves the opportunity to wear different masks for different occasions. Such is human.

Sometimes I get to thinking that goodness is more often than not just an illusion. That’s not to say it doesn’t exist, but what we commonly assume to be good only appears to be so. It’s good shown in certain situations and contexts. Yet, once we witness that in someone, we like to extrapolate from there and presume the person to be “good” through and through and may close our ears and eyes to claims to the contrary. Why do we do this? Why do we assume one’s public persona is all there is to him/her? Why do we place so much weight on impressions based on so little evidence gleaned while they’re acting on their best behavior? As if that’s all there is to any of us. And the same issue runs in the opposite direction where we’ll make up our mind about someone based on comments from other people without questioning their motives or how much exposure they’ve had to the individual in question. We like to give weight to popularity or a pretty smile without scratching beneath the surface for our own selves. And that’s why we don’t see it coming when they show less savory aspects of their personalities behind closed doors.

Willful blindness — we all fall victim to it from time to time. We see what we want to see in others and overlook what we don’t. We project onto others, right or wrong, and once our minds are set it becomes very difficult to offer a fair assessment. And once we wind up betrayed we reel in pain and confusion, not understanding how we led ourselves astray by cherry-picking for evidence that supported what we wanted to believe while dismissing what we didn’t.

I’m coming to see claims of goodness as, more often than not, another form of conceit. Born out of arrogance in both the individual in question and his/her observers.

Such is the human condition, apparently. Neither sex is immune to it.

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