They teach you in various therapy and 12 step programs that anger isn’t a real emotion. Anger is steam rising from true emotions like hurt and sadness. It’s easier to feel anger than to plumb the depths of our deeper vulnerabilities. It takes courage to admit we’ve been hurt.
I’ve experienced anger over the entire covid pandemic as it turns endemic. I’ve avoided looking too closely at what is underneath the anger all year. It turns out it was hurt. I feel abandoned by my fellow Americans. I’m hurt you didn’t make the choices to protect me. I’m hurt you chose you over me. Even though I recognize and believe in your God given right to do so. I’m still hurt.
Reconciling my hurt with my belief in freedom has been an exercise in faith. I’m a Calvinist. I basically believe that God is the set of all sets. I do believe in predestination, in that there exists the possibility that something, we can call it God, can and does know all possible outcomes. The infinity of choices is knowable to God.
A number of people find this fatalist. We have no free will if all possible outcomes have been seen. I don’t see it that way. We chose every moment in our infinite outcomes. It only looks fatalistic because humans live forward in linear time. God does not. God lives in all instants all at once. I alas and living each choice forward in time. I experience causality. God does not. Time isn’t real, it just feels real to humans.
Let me try to explain. I ate a ham and cheese croissant instead of yogurt this morning. I had a latte instead of an espresso. I’ll never know what the other me who had a different breakfast got up to but it’s possible to know. That’s God to me. Knower of all outcomes.
We literally have infinite choices and are ever in the process of refining our paths. This does not contradict that God has already seen every version of me. It is my responsibility to make the version I want. I believe we can make better choices. Turn ourselves into the person we wish.
Or we can hate ourselves for poor choices. We can chose to be victims to ourselves. At any moment we can make a new choice and branch into infinity again. That’s free will to me. Calvinism accepts that we live in linear time but God does not.
I’m also a libertarian because I believe each of those choices to be a sacred individual responsibility. It’s up to us to make a good choice. We own our failures. We own our successes. But that isn’t the narcissism of a childhood ego assuming everything is our fault (or our doing) but rather everything is our responsibility. We don’t chose the forces that act on us, but we do chose our response to it. We make every choice in freedom even if we perceive ourselves to be bound by forces outside our control.
The moment we lose sight that we own all our actions and decisions, we give up our free will. We abandon the project of becoming our infinite selves. This is why I am reticent to have prescriptive rules for our behavior.
Legislating behavior is fucking Old Testament nonsense. Jesus did not die for our sins so we could continue to feel guilt over a rule book about hygiene and how to prepare pork. He freed us to own how disgusting and sinful we are and how we can continually chose to overcome it.
As a Calvinist and a libertarian, I think we must chose to do the right things. We’ve been freed from rules, which in turn makes the freedom to chose better all the more crucial. Every mandate from an outside authority is just an excuse for us to victimize ourselves and abdicate the freedom we’ve been given to pursue infinity. We don’t need rules to behave well.
This means I get fucking pissed when societies need laws and mandates for basics civility be enforced. American shouldn’t be a Hobbesian war of all against all. I think shit like vaccine mandates and masking rules shouldn’t need to exist. You should be capable of choosing how you want to balance your responsibilities to the community and your freedom to make infinitely bad choices. Our society has given you the freedom to make those choices yourself. Our civilization is meant to be an experiment in free will and democratic society.
I’m not saying law isn’t important nor that humans won’t fail to live up to our higher selves. We fail at this every second of every day. We are sinners after all. It is easier to be a victim than to cope with the burden of freedom and responsibility. So sometimes we grasp at burden of free will and become nihilist. It becomes too much.
Fuck Jesus for freeing us. Fuck God for knowing that we could chose to toss back our free will. Fuck everyone for seeing our frailty. We have a God given right to be a an indulgent irresponsible baby that takes no responsibility. A lot of us are spending time coping with our freedom to make an infinity of bad choices. We’ve all got coping mechanisms. But we’ve got to stop acting like free will means there are no consequences.
You want to know what happens when you fail to live in civilization? Your neighbors lose faith in you. I feel abandoned by society. And I have abandoned society too. We offered ourselves complete freedom in liberal society, we left behind Old Testament thinking of rules & regulations and now we are struggling with that freedom. Instead of rising up to our freedom from rules we are sinking. And maybe that is our karma for this lifetime. To discover the full extent of our frailty. To live as a sinner. Only God can judge. But we all have a right to our feelings about how the bad choices of others impact us. And I am sometimes hurt by it.
I’m struggling to see how many of us have choices and don’t live up to that freedom. How shameful of us. How human. To be human is to hurt. I know that is the cost of freedom. That is salvation.
But I’m having a hard time forgiving my fellow citizens for making bad choices. I know we are all sinners. I am too. But good fucking Christ I want you to own that. Be truthful that you chose yourself over me. We gave each other that freedom. In the balancing act of human being versus citizen we chose the individual. What progress we’ve made that this was a choice. But own your fucking choice.
And even though this all sounds very philosophical. I’ve laid out my entire theology and political foundation which I’m sure will be handy in the future. But it’s important to note that this is all my stuff. I’m reactive because it’s my trauma. The feelings of hurt are grounded in my own childhood. I only explored this philosophy of freedom as my inner child remains angry my father chose his individual path over the community of his family. I wanted him to chose me.
And when he didn’t, I felt abandoned. Because even if he had chosen me, my little child knew he didn’t want to chose me in freedom. He chose himself over the family.
I’ll forever carry that wound to my inner child. In his infinite choices, my father needed to chose the individual over the community of his family. And that was his call. And I am not a victim to his freedom. I forgive him. I chose to believe there is a reason he was my father and I needed the lesson that sometimes others chose themselves over you.
I want you to chose the better infinity for us. But I cannot prescribe it or mandate it. You must choose it in freedom. The grace of God has given us that right. Anything less isn’t human. Anything less is making us a victim to infinity.
This is why I don’t believe that a flourishing human society should mandate our choices. It stunts our branching to infinite Godhead. It throws away the freedom to chose to be better even though at every single turn we could chose to be worse and that God has seen that we have. But we don’t. Even in the face of predestination of all possible choices we don’t give up on our responsibility. We continually, in every moment, work to own every choice we make, good or bad.