Recently, my three year old discovered the countdown clock on the microwave. The lover of numbers that she is, she insists that I pick her up so she might watch the tick-tick-ticking of the digits as I heat up some food. To help her make some sense of what she is seeing, I point to the last, constantly changing number on the display: 4-3-2-1-zero-9-8-7…over and over until [beep!] --food’s done.
Then, cheeky little thing that she is, on her weekend trip to her dad’s, she shows him her new trick: twee-too-whon-(pause)-nine-eay- thefen…
But to hear him tell it (via text message), she was counting backwards from twenty. She can count to twenty, yes, however I was quite surprised to hear about my child’s astute skills in deductive reasoning—that she could take pre-existing information (numbers 1-20), cross reference that with new information (numbers 9-1 in reverse order) and produce new, previously unknown information (20-1 can also be said in reverse order with the help of the microwave timer).
Astounding! My child is a genius!
Genius though she may be, you may know where I’m going with this. She has yet to reproduce her amazing numbers trick with me, although she now recites the numbers 9-1 as I had (the concept of zero still escapes her). I try to prompt a countdown from twenty and she looks confused and annoyed that I’m both messing her up and changing the rules of the game. Seems my intuitive quandary over the possibility that she would have waited for the number twenty to show up before she began her countdown has been answered.
He lied. Again.
But I wonder, as I have wondered following the reveal of most every lie of his to which I’ve born witness: What could be gained from fabricating a story against a seemingly quantifiable truth? I would figure out soon enough whether or not he’s lying, so why bother?
Over our five year relationship and to this day, I’ve discovered the only element that remains constant with that man—that which I can have faith--is his unrelenting insecurity. Anything new that our daughter shows him she can do is either something I must have taught her to do, or that which she showed me first. Therefore, in a fleeting game of one-upsmanship, he exaggerates what he sees so he has the opportunity to be the one who saw it first, if only in his ex-wife’s mind, if only for the four days it takes me to figure out he’s lying yet again.
Seems far too petty a thing to confront him about, yet it makes me wonder if it escapes him that I’m fully aware of the psychology behind the lying. I wonder if he knows that I see him for the real person that he is: sad, pitiful, insecure, afraid, desperately seeking approval. And doing the best he can to hide his full-bodied shame as a “failed” husband, father, man, son behind that little lying fig leaf.
It will only be a matter of time before his doe-eyed daughter, in the sweetest voice of innocence, states the obvious.
Of course, I can’t bad-mouth my ex too much; besides being a decent parent to our child, his unrelenting insecurities and flexible absolutism have pointed my way toward That From Which He’s Been Hiding. He holds onto his versions of truth and requires that those who say they love him believe his version as well. And those who do love him will coddle his ego as requested.
But I never loved him. I believe we found each other because I exist as his foil. (I don’t know this as Truth, but it makes a handy plot device.) I’ve understood from long ago childhood arguments of “No-I-didn’t!-Yes-you-did!” that the Truth of Actuality exists separate from what either party says or even what a third party believes. As the loser in many of these arguments, I sought out the eventual “win”. I demanded of myself that I have the correct knowledge enough that people will believe what I say, even when I wasn’t too sure of what I was talking about. In junior high, I became dismissive and condescending to classmates who mixed up closely related concepts such as bulimia verses anorexia. We could argue yes-no-yes until we’re blue in the face but I reveled in the knowledge that no matter how loud she screamed about it, bulimia was purging and anorexia was starving. That was that. I knew the Truth. Time enough with a dictionary will show her she’s wrong and I’m right.
I thought I had this Truth business all figured out when a decade later, the husband pulled the rug out from under me. Imagine if he were the classmate arguing over definitions of eating disorders, if proven wrong by the passage of time and a dictionary, he would simply deny that he ever said anorexia was purging, or he would assert that he told me a long time ago that he straightened out his own confusion, in either case subverting my “win”. If a dictionary was immediately had, thanks to smartphones, he would then act repulsed that I were making too big a point over something so petty, again, subverting my “win”.
You may have noticed I had my own psychological issues to contend with. My insecurities demanded that I be right, in the “correct” sense, never mind the corrosion of contempt. His insecurities demanded that I believe whatever he says, never mind the Actuality of Truth. Ironically, he used threats of recording our conversations so he would have something to refer back to when I was supposedly contradicting myself. Yet he could never seem to find the email where I referenced something I was suddenly denying. But I digress.
And as for the Truth… Today I wonder how much it really matters. If I were to have the benefit of the knowledge of Actual Truth of any moment (whether the Mind of God or numbers uttered by a toddler), how much difference would it make if no one were to believe my version of events? At the same time, any version of events could be held as belief without foundation in Actual Truth.
Therefore, Truth and belief are not mutually inclusive. To believe something does not, will not, make it true, and to know the Truth does not guarantee belief, even within yourself. If God exists, ‘He’ will continue to exist whether or not you believe in ‘Him.’ I would like to believe this God were less insecure than my ex. To not believe in Him will not damage His ego. Therefore, the Eternal Carrot or Stick methodology sits a bit on the passive-aggressive side, and is out of bounds for my understanding of That Which We Call ‘God’.
There are some entities, however, to which belief is necessary for their survival. They fight to maintain belief in their version of events because without the belief of the masses they would literally die. And when they know they’re losing the fight, the gloves come off, because now it’s personal. These dictators and tyrants require an inner circle of sycophants and broad scope network of propaganda to maintain their precious and increasingly paranoid egos. The welfare of the people hinges on whether or not they're having a good day. Those of means to depose them choose not to because they are reaping the financial rewards of this insanity.
You may have noticed that recent events prove that The Church falls into this category nicely. Below I seek to deconstruct the tyranny of spiritual economy by The Collective of Christ-related Churches :
1) Imposed shame of Original Sin, The Fall from Grace, and Dogmatic, often contradictory, Morality (all contrived problems)
2) The promise of Redemption and Eternal Salvation (a contrived solution) via
3) This one conduit –Christ—which, through the Church, you may access for the low-low price of ten percent off the top of your earnings.
For those unable to sacrifice the full ten percent, required is the full submission to the teachings of the Church, while also teaching your children to be ashamed of their own conception, ashamed of their unclothed bodies, ashamed of their natural developmental stages into adulthood, ashamed of who they love and who they are, so they may continue flocking into the Church and may hold as the goal in their lives to be a giver of the ten percent that may finally rid them of this shame.
And if you do not believe everything they tell you, says the Church, no matter the denomination, this God (that is not damaged whether or not you believe in Him) will cast you into Eternal Hellfire, because he’s just a prick like that.
But if the threat of damnation doesn’t sway you to devote your life and your finances to propping up those whose livelihoods and lifestyles depend upon your personal sense of shame, they will ratchet up the shame-factory by making your sex lives a matter of public policy. They will twist to their will the politicians with hookers on speed dial (those with the most public shame to exploit) so those same endenured politicians will seek to project their shame onto and to justify the enslavement of the masses.
Be not afraid of your humanity. Be not afraid of whom you love or how you love. Be not afraid of the tyrants and dictators who came into power under the watchful eye of an emperor, who like any great self-promoter, would not allow an entire shift in the structure of society if he wasn’t certain those in power remained in power, those with wealth would keep their wealth. That the poor could remain unloved, and enemies could remain unhuman. Women of means and charisma will be re-cast as psychopathic prostitutes. The mother will be stripped of her agency and reduced to a vessel for the birthing of a son. The son, born of questionable paternity, will be re-cast as more-than-human so that no actual human, no other illigitimate child of shameful origin, would again dare to shed the bounds of shame and again dare to challenge the status quo.