Chapter 6 – Blind Allegiance
The 20 year life span between the two (real) me’s was not without it’s significant moments, substance, or things I will hold onto for the rest of my life, but it was empty in many ways. It was like the universe, big and beautiful and full of life, but also dark and strangely void.
It was like my own black hole. Whereby, I was trapped by myself, without conception of myself.
Before moving on though and explaining what it was like escaping this black hole, I want to first go over one more thing which brought me into this existence – my personal relationships.
My personal relationships, for better or for worse, were the cornerstones for the type of person I was to become, or for the person I did not become, earlier in my life.
If you think about it, I think we all are all by-products of our personal relationships. So much of who we are and what we believe in comes from the very people we are surrounded by in our youth. Often so to the point that we appear to be more like them than ourselves at first.
For me, my personal relationships were no different. They were the molds I was created into, and they shaped my development in many ways. The primary ways in which they influenced me were through direct influences – such as adopting my family’s political affiliations and ideological principals – and indirect influences – like desiring organization and cleanliness after being surrounded by very little of that growing up.
Direct or indirect though, I think it’s important to clarify now that regardless of what type of influence my personal relationships had on me, none of them ever came to me with any spite or malice. No one in my personal sphere of influences ever had any intent to mislead me even if they did, and no one ever influenced me with even the slightest idea that most of the things they did would ever even impact me at all. So suffice it to say, good or bad, I hold no ill will towards anyone who raised me for anything they did. Everyone who raises a child just does the best that they can, and my raising was no different in this way.
What I will say though about my raising, and about my personal relationships in general, is that one relationship in particular impacted me far more than all the others – the relationship with my father. That relationship, the relationship with my father, would the relationship that would take nearly 30 years for me to unravel and figure out where his influence ended and my authenticity began.
So as far personal relationships and this chapter goes, it will be the only relationship I use to illustrate the impact of personal relationships in my life. After all, it says the most about where I came from and how I became who I am today.
For a bit of backdrop, my father was the son of a State Senator who in his (my grandfather’s) own obituary was referred to as “Mr. Republican”. So I think you can pretty well guess from that snippet where my ideological principals stood growing up. But I don’t think that aspect of our relationship was any different than any other families growing up. In fact, in most families I think there is some kind of affiliation or predetermined allegiance you’re born into, groupness if you will, that shapes how you and your family view the world. That’s nothing new or original. However, because my grandfather (who died before I was born) was a true blue (red) representative of that certain view point; well, I pretty much had to toe the line or prepare to declare war on my own flesh and blood from the beginning.
This isn’t to go on to say that I think the Republican mindset I inherited is a flawed one or an undesirable one to have in any way, but it is to say that what came with that mindset and it’s affiliation (or any other affiliated ideological mindset) was the inability to think outside of that box; to be in constant opposition of those who thought differently than we did; and to be associated with it from birth.
As I grew older, this association would further instill in me this attitude of unquestioned faith and (blind) allegiance; or maybe more modernly spoken, ride or die. And it was this attitude, of unquestioned faith and allegiance, that would largely keep me from ever questioning or becoming otherwise in my life. Period.
Like I said before, it wasn’t that the Republican aspect of this mindset in my youth was a bad one to have, it was just the groupness affect of it, or any other similar mindset, limited the scope of my knowledge and the acceptance of alternative understandings in my life as I grew older. By being born into such a defined partisanship household it automatically put me in constant contraindication to understanding anything outside of that existence. In other words, we learn by making mistakes, and because I was so deeply invested in that particular way of life I was unable to see past it and learn anything otherwise.
So it doesn’t matter what the specific teachings I learned were (and I’m not going to bother listing them all for you), because I grew to view the world the way I did for no other reason than my father did (and most of the other people around me did).
There was no real rhyme or reason to my philosophy. I just was.
It was like being born into a country at war. From day one there were people on my side of the frontline, and there were people on the other side of that line. And believe you me, my namesake, General, was by no mistake. I was, and always have been, willing to fight and die for the people I love the most, so there was no middle ground growing up. To have sought such a thing would have basically been surrendering and forfeiting everything that I knew.
As I’ve hinted before, it wasn’t like I was arguing some sort of fundamental disagreement in economic policy every day, it was more like I just had to view those who stood in opposition to me as in constant opposition of my family, our traditions, and our way of life. It didn’t matter what the argument was, the transgression of simply being in such opposition, default or not, was unforgivable and I had to oppose everything they said regardless of the position. They were my enemies for life.
No one though ever actually did any harm to me or my family despite this. Not once were we attacked or did a real threat materialize that was detrimental to our way of life. It was all for not. The worry, the fear, and the anger was all of our own doing in retrospect. The only thing that did work against us, in retrospect, was our own insecurities and our own inability to look inward.
And yet, the world still remains divided today for most of the same reasons. We’re all stuck on opposite sides of the line, for no other reason than we were born there.
Moving forward in my life, I also went on to develop an informal understanding that there was never even a need for a debate with these people; there was never a need for welcoming differing opinions or views; there wasn’t even a need for acknowledgement of anything outside of our own rank and file. There was our way, and our way was the right way always. To do or think anything to the contrary would mean that you lose, and losing was inconceivable to the righteous. In such instances, there was no need for compromise or a willingness change, because to do so is to have admitted defeat; to have disowned your family; and to show that you are weak. Therefore, the line always remained.
I can remember being in such mindsets when we would have debates in school, and I would always think (as a result of this mindset) that the people that thought differently than I did were total idiots; were pussies; or that they were purposefully just trying to be annoying to me. Of course, I didn’t actually try to have a real debate with them. In my mind, I was just always right and they were always wrong. There was no need to debate. If all else failed, I knew I could kick just their ass; so, in essence, I had all the vindication I needed for my points. I think that is still the universal fail safe nuclear button for anyone who’s closed minded – to fight. In fact, the idea that I could kick someone else’s ass automatically made me better than them in my mind. It made them lesser than me, and it proved to me that they were unworthy of my ear. I had no real reason to use any more appropriate methods of discourse, because they did not command my respect. I actually avoided saying anything at all in most debates, because just hearing people talk with differing views made me want to fight them. It was impossible to react otherwise in such a disposition.
Like I said before, I was born into a war zone. I knew no other way to handle such situations than to strike those who opposed me down.
Fortunately, though, I know now that any type of discourse or exchanging of ideas is a good thing, because only through that can you become better. Either you will reinforce your own beliefs, or will you discover that they are flawed and adopt new, better beliefs.
It’s a win win.
Oh wait, I forgot, you can’t have win wins (or flawed beliefs). *rolls eyes*
Anywho, I don’t want you to think after reading all this that my father was a terrible person; or did a terrible job of raising me; or that I made enemies of everyone around me. He did a great job actually. He raised me to be respectful of others, to make educated decisions for myself, and he drilled me in manners and etiquette. But the practice of said lessons and principals were subsequently only applied to those who walked, talked, and thought like we did in retrospect. They weren’t courtesies afforded to those on the other side of that line.
As such, walls were built when bridges were needed.
It’s why I believe today that most partisanships and affiliations in the world largely represent the epitome of hypocrisy. All sides believe they are right, and all sides believe the other is wrong, but being right and being wrong is largely a perspective of default understanding; coming to us solely through circumstantial differences. Furthermore, such notions – right, wrong, win, lose, having power, etc. – are also fundamentally contradictory to us being able to work together and to have empathy for one another. As a result, I don’t think anyone is a complete practitioner of anything anymore when you ideologically restrict so much of the way you view the world. Golden Rule be damned.
My father for instance when I was young, would go to the polls to vote and he would always scoff (that’s a nice way of putting it) at the volunteers and representatives of the other party as he walked by. These were people who didn’t know him from Adam, and yet he was adamantly offended every time he walked by them just by the thought that they would even dare try to sway his vote or affiliate themselves otherwise. He afforded them no respect, no common courtesy, no nothing.
I thought it was kinda funny at first, and then it became a bit awkward, and now it’s just fucking sad. To think that anyone can hate someone else for no other reason than they have a different point of view is just depressing.
That being said, I too would go on to live much of my life the same way. I created enemies of those around me that thought or did other than me. Keeping outside influences at bay either by choice or by force. Allowing no real room for discourse or change/growth to occur in my life. The only thing I did grow to do was to ‘hate’ people and ideas and systems that were not like my own. Doing so simply because they did not adhere to the way I viewed the world; simply because they would not relent and accept my ideologies as right; and simply because they even existed. The irony of these things being that even my own viewpoints and ideologies were merely inherited and subliminally injected upon me much like that of the people I chose to oppose. But nonetheless, I hypocritically looked down upon them all the same.
In shouldn’t be any real wonder then that at some time or another in my life I wound up feeling lost in space like I did. Because by the time I was actually capable of making choices for myself and potentially choosing which direction I wanted my life to go in, I had already become a reflection of someone else.
It’s just hard to find yourself when you’re always trying to represent things outside of yourself.
Think about it.
Think about how much of your life is/was shaped by the factors in your life growing up. Factors in your life that you never even had a say in: who raised you, how you were raised, or what type of people you were surrounded by growing up. Not to mention the solicited or unsolicited advice you got from them as well. It just baffles me now how anyone could pretend to act superior to another in regards to all their defaultness: their status, their beliefs, their demographics, etc. To asininely believe that they could do so differently if in someone else’s shoes; that others could do exactly as they do if they tried; or that others are just simply just wrong for doing things the way they do. That life is just as simple as us making different choices when so much of our life has already been chosen for us.
In other words, if you’re that person, stop. Let go of the need for others to be exactly like you, and let go of the ego that they even should be. Appreciate others for who they are and disregard what you think they should be.
There are no real sides in life. There’s only the sides you create.
Just imagine if you had been born into a totally different family and a totally different society with a totally different set of beliefs than you have now, would you then be the exact same person you oppose now?
My point precisely.
I’m not saying this to discredit anyone’s faith or principals or to dog the Republican party though. These aren’t factors representative of a sole ideological stance, they’re indicative of many (if not all). I’m just saying that it shouldn’t be against anyone’s principals to be able to embrace others. That it shouldn’t be important what you are or what you believe in so long as you treat others the way you would want to be treated no matter what the context. That being wrong can sometimes be the most right thing you can do. And that it’s important to recognize the value in everything, not just in what you value.
As for myself, for all those years I spent trying to practice and implement the principals and values my father taught me, all I ended up doing was being in total contradiction to them the whole time.
That would remain the same, and I would remain lost, until I met someone who wasn’t.