It is, at times, easy to hide my cynicism from myself. I seem to have mastered the art of concealing my attitudes and feelings about certain things in life from myself and thereby from my conscious stream of communication.
Yet sometimes my cynicism makes of itself an obvious presence. Sometimes, given the right circumstances, my cynicism comes pouring out in an obfuse torrent that takes me quite by surprise. This weekend provided one such opportunity for cynicism to flourish, and it yet again surprised and, to be honest, scared me.
The details are somewhat irrelevant, but the epicenter of my cynical ranting was the continual and pervasive proliferation of American Conservativism masquerading as Christianity. This pretension is where I grew up, or rather it was the attitude I took upon myself while undertaking that heavenward development. The circumstances of my extraction from said mental location are numerous and vast, and cannot be adequately explained in such a blog as this, save to say that it has been a slow movement of pain and recognition of betrayal that may or not actually exist beyond the horizons of my brain. But now I harbor such a deep disdain for anything that smacks of such leanings that I cannot contain my feelings and they come roaring out in an undiscriminating profusion.
If it were not so…
Nevertheless I wish it were not so. I wish that I was able to stand at some safe, perhaps even unbelieving, distance from such proceedings and see not a murderous conspiracy of empowered men and social classes to consolidate their control or finances, but instead see the good intentioned souls who wish only to preserve the life and breath of those near and dear to them.
And it is of this wish that I often choose to remain mute.
It is of this yearning for sight that my eyes remain closed and my fingers stuck firmly into my ears so as not to hear or see the events as they unfold around me. I wish I did not know the things I know and had not heard the things I have. Ignorance seems all the more blissful to cynics like me.
And so it is that I chose to hide my cynicism from myself (with the intention that others should not see) so that I may have a voice with those whom I wish to speak. I know that if I just let the cynic out for the evening those who need to hear what I want to say will never give me a bent ear. And so over time I get so used to living in my facade that when the cynic comes out I am surprised and afraid. I do not want to be that person. I want to live in forgiveness and not in cynicism. But how can I ignore the continual barrage of empty rhetoric and sloganeering that only tears off the scabs of those I know and love?
And how can I still love a God and a bible that have been so thoroughly claimed by such brutal and destructive means? How can I hold onto my love of a relationship so depraved and counter to its own designs as Christianity? Either I assert that I am not those people and that Christianity is something else, or I claim them as my people and sacrifice all of my own integrity in the process.
And so I am a cynic, and the circle ends where we began.
The truth is that I am those people. I’ll never live beyond the shadows of the pillars I’ve known all my life. It is an uphill struggle to remain hopeful and optimistic while working towards something that is so unlikely as a reconciliation of humanity. Maybe normal, non-crazy people can “take back the bible” from the extremists and fundamentalists. But that can’t be me, because I’m as crazy as the next guy. But I do hope for a reconciliation of humanity. This seems to me to be the bible’s hope as well.
The question for me is on who’s terms?
None of us speak for God, and none of us are right about what we think about God. I’m sure I’ll get a response to this post that answers my question with “God’s terms,” which will of course mean “my terms.” And I’ll agree with them, meaning I agree with what they say but not with what they mean. As cynical as ever.
How do I get beyond my cynicism? Do I own it and let it drip from my fangs? Do I hide it as I have been and cut off my right hand so as not to offend someone else?
I think the cure for cynicism is forgiveness, but I’ve yet to learn how to do that effectively.