Once more round the Spiral…
Jesus said, Whoever is not with me is against me. Whoever does not gather with me, scatters. He also said, Whoever is not against you is for you.
These two sayings, taken together, are one of the koans of the Bible: for how can they both be true? The world-view of Holy Willie:
Oh Thou who in the Heavens dost dwell
Who, as it pleases best Thysel’
Sends ane to Heaven and ten to Hell
A’ for Thy Glory
does not fit reality. People do our best under difficult circumstances. There is no obvious line between the Remnant and the Damned, and those who think of themselves as the Remnant generally do harm. They have too much need to Convert others. And there are good unbelievers, and poor believers.
From that, I decided that Morality is addressed to me, and me alone. Compton Mackenzie had a character who read the Bible assiduously to learn her rights and others’ duties. My view was the opposite: I had no right to consider the morality of others’ being or doing, only my own. Judge not, that ye be not judged.
So, this put me on the way to accepting the World as it is. Unfortunately, having little self-respect, I did not do the work of self-acceptance. I had to be other than I am. I had to make a man of myself. I had to be rational, intellectual, thinking things through. Even changing from presenting male to expressing myself female did not let me accept myself, or what I want, or accept what makes me happy. That is the work I do now. That is what I need to do to survive in this world. I am a good person, not for what I do but for who I am, under the shell, under the masks, my authentic self.
I am so politically correct, that I am a wheen chary of the phrase “her heart’s in the right place” in case anyone is dextrocardiac. Political correctness which is worth anything at all is respect and courtesy. Any infelicity of language can be improved: “fire person”? No, “fire officer”. “Non-sexist language” becomes ”inclusive language”, more obviously an improvement.
This is excellent practice for a writer, and also for any human being seeking to use language to understand the World. Of course language cannot let us understand the world, but it can take us to those jumping-off points beyond language; and it can continually push the boundaries of understanding.
So, why talk of being “vulnerable”? That sounds frightening and dangerous. Talk instead of being “authentic” or “real”, which sounds liberating and empowering. Talk not of being undefended, but of ceasing to be defensive. I have my defences if needed, but they are needed surprisingly rarely.