Chapter 1: A Worldview, I Suppose
Few of my earliest remembrances can be traced to any remaining synapses preserved from my earliest experience. Childhood, the dream sequence that it becomes, can only be remembered though the cynical poetic eye of discernment which ones formidable years bestow upon even the most gleeful child. In recollection, even the happiest of times are overcome by the ominous shadow of worldly knowledge. The accrued prejudices of unique experiences scar any reminiscence, distorting the best intentions. The actions of others, throughout the tract of one human experience, splatter on the blank canvas forming shapes and patterns not discernable to the childlike eye, and hardly understood by even the most astute psychoanalyst. If the life of an individual is a work of art, (assuming the Christian premise of God’s most benevolent creation) then each of our paintings have become marred by the careless brushstrokes of our earliest overlords.
There is no doubt that my back harbors the scars of youth. We are all raised as slaves or masters. The passive, such as I, in our goodwill give in to the barbarians in fear and in charity. Yes, I fought the master for my sovereignty and the dignity of my comrades. In a meek voice, I stood up, one foot firmly on the ground, clawing at my chains, but I was not heard. We weren’t given more. We paid for our cries with yelps. We paid for our slaps with punches. We paid for our souls with our bodies.
Whether the scars on my back are worse than those of another, I cannot know. I know only my afflictions. I dine with them, sleep with them, when I’m in the mood I brush their teeth. My empathy, in all its enormity, extends not far beyond the reaches of the house I share with her. I’m quite sure my own good fortune has not cast lot upon those naughty children who shared my earliest afflictions. Of this I am sad. It is unfortunate I suppose. If you sense indifference to their plight on my part, your instincts are absolutely correct. In depths of my soul, I harbor the greatest empathy for the companions of my youth, but I am jaded. To scrawl out my true feelings would require a skill of which I wasn’t given.
Of course, God himself may have given me this gift, but surely enough it was snatched up, but not in one whole gulp. No, God’s gifts cannot be taken in complete form. The gifts of God are beaten, sliced. They are destroyed from within. They disappear like a fortune, stolen away each day by dishonest accountants in dingy back rooms, their white dress shirts wrinkled and stained.
I would like to believe God’s gifts could never really be taken. Perhaps a little morsel of empathy still rests in my cold, cold heart.
I was born to the kindest people you’ll ever meet. My father jumped from job to job to take care of my mother and I. My father was one of the most capable human beings I’ve ever encountered. If I was to staff a hotel I would be quite pleased with one hundred of him to complete all of those tasks that must be done, but no one knows how to do. My father most certainly could figure it out. Why my father lacked confidence in himself, I’ll never know.
The truth is, my parents were alone in the world, with a tiny child dependent on them for every need. Only now can I begin to understand the weight of such a burden, but I’m quite sure it must have been terrifying. They had to make decisions I can’t imagine. I won’t try and make sense of it. My parents, in their humility allowed themselves to be manipulated and controlled by forces I have come to know and detest. I don’t believe there can be sense made of evil for the sake of evil, so as I said before, I won’t try. I can’t know the hearts of these men; I can only know their actions. Of their associations with my parents and myself I’m not impressed or pleased.
I must clarify up front, of any inconvenience or negative experience I endured, I place no blame on my mother and father. They provided me with a foundation of love and faith of which few possess. Without this I don’t believe I could have withstood the challenges and trials that have befallen us and still held on to that morsel of empathy I hope to God I still possess.