“Men are born ignorant, not stupid. They are made stupid by education.” – Bertrand Russell
Well, loyal parishioners, I am sick and tired of politics. The world is going to hell and, at least for a little while, I’m going to stop watching. My psyche needs a break and I’m sure the evil squirrels will still be fucking things up when I come back. So let’s talk about super heroes instead. “There’s no need to fear, Underdog is here.” “Here I come to save the day, that means that Mighty Mouse is on the way!” Yeah, that kind.
Every culture creates super heroes; Beowulf, Hercules, Gilgamesh, The 8 Immortals, Paul Bunyon, Superman. Hell, you can probably put Jesus and Mohammed on the list, but I’m trying not to piss anybody off today. Whatever, the list is huge and I’m sure they represent some interesting facet of the culture that created them. Who cares. The cool thing is that they all have some super power and that leads to fun party question “What super power would you like to have?”. That’s what I want to talk about today and as usual it took me a couple paragraphs to get there.
It might be cool to be super strong and bullet proof. A lot of people would like to be able to fly. Many men would choose to be invisible but if that happened the UCLA cheerleader’s locker room would get pretty full. I’m sure some altruistic souls might opt for the ability to cure the sick or heal the infirm. Seeing into the future seems like a good idea but somehow I think it might not be. Immortality or transforming into animals are always popular themes. Not surprisingly, I have a completely different answer. I’d like to be Shame and Embarrassment Free Man.
Sounds silly, right? I don’t think so. What if you could look and act any way you wanted without ever being concerned about someone else’s opinion? What if you could display all your emotions whenever you felt like it? Just think how you could dance and sing. You could discuss your fears and even your religious beliefs with impunity. You’d let the important people in your life know what they mean to you without fear of vulnerability. You’d be immune to scorn, cynicism, and peer pressure. You could truly be you, even if the true you was a little ‘different’.
We all have an inner critic, that annoying little voice that edits our speech and actions. You know, the one that gets very concerned if you get too much of the wrong kind of attention. What will ‘they’ say? What if someone laughs at you? What if you make a fool of yourself? Oh my god, that would be so embarrassing. Shame and Embarrassment Free Man would vanquish that voice once and for all. And when confronted by scorn or the laughter of others he would, well, I don’t know. I’m not him. But he’d overcome it somehow.
Some people might be surprised that, given the way I look and act, I have any shame or sense of embarrassment at all and I grant you that I probably have less than most. But when the thirty seventh meathead says “Dude, you have a blue mohawk” or the fifteenth repressed old crone snarls at my tattoos I can get a little pissy. Years of martial arts training have made me pretty comfortable looking stupid and I’ve consciously tried to keep that mindset. Teaching in front of large groups or vicious children certainly thickens the skin. Even this blog has helped me be more at ease with my beliefs in public. But I know I’ve only scratched the surface. I can run, but I ain’t no Flash.
Everyone, and I mean everyone, is constrained by shame and the fear of embarrassment. At least those we label as ‘sane’. We all fall prey to cynicism. Without those restrictions I could grow and learn more easily. I could talk about God and Love and Pain without that squeamish feeling. I could accept Joy in every form and stand against the scorn and cynicism of others without self doubt. Oh yeah, and I’d like to learn how to whistle too. Vaya con Dios and Viva la Revolucion.