So, I’ve had quite a few thoughts related to flaws, and to ‘cancel culture’ lately.

On one paw, we clearly have some serious problems that we’re not addressing. I recently watched Bombshell, which made the very good point that the serial sexual abusers fired at Fox news walked away with more money than their abusees did.

On the other paw, I don’t think we want to go down the road of invalidating all art which is created by flawed people. Among other things, whether we like to admit it or not, a lot of artists tend to be flawed people, and we will all be poorer therein if we, for example, decide that we no longer want to read the works of Thomas Jefferson because he owned slaves, or Mark Twain because he used racial epithets.

Now part of why I may be saying this is that I remain a aspiring artist and I have certainly made my own share of mistakes and missteps – especially when I was younger, although also when under the influence of mania. (I’m not entirely sure those count as mine – a lot of them were things that I would never do, even things that I’m horrified by, and I’m trying my hardest to avoid repeating those manic states until I’ve reached a place where I don’t have to worry about repeating those actions. Is it still your decision if it’s not a decision you’d ever make if not for a bug in your hardware that pushes your neural circuitry past the shannon limit?). So perhaps I don’t want to be cancelled myself.

But beyond that I do also think that ceasing to enjoy the works of art of i.e. Garrison Keiler or Bill Cosby because of their flaws as individuals makes us all poorer and does not help anybody. It doesn’t undo, in the case of Mr. Cosby, the harm done by his actions. (It does actually kind of break my mind to think that the person who voiced Fat Albert, who I have identified with positive morality, also did the things he did – it does underline something that I want to discuss at length one of these days but am somewhat afraid to, the results of designing a organism via evolution)

Anyway, back to my original topic. One of the things I’ve thought recently is how most of Trump’s flaws are flaws I share, only at a much lower level. I certainly don’t lie every sentence but I also don’t always achieve 100% truth, and I certainly don’t think the only good republican is a dead republican but I am angry at members of the GOP for the harm they have brought upon us all year after year. I don’t generally embrace every nutwing conspiracy theory but I occasionally flirt with them.

I do feel I have to draw a distinction here at one point, though. One flaw Trump has that I do not is he is basically a thief, a con man, and a sham artist, whereas I create real things that do what they say they will do on the label. Sometimes with some flaws, especially in the alpha and beta releases, but I am not a con man. Still, I share enough of Trump’s flaws that I often wonder about my condemnation of him.

I do pity him, especially in the corner he’s painted himself in with his extreme debts to the Russian mafia – I also suspect whoever has Epstein’s tapes also might have some materials to hold over his head. Anyway, obviously he’s got very little freedom and he’s going to be hated for centuries. I suppose he may draw some comfort from knowing that even though history will thoroughly condemn him, he won’t be forgotten.

This, however, brings me to another topic. I don’t believe souls are separated into heaven and hell, there to forever linger. I believe we all continue forward and we run into each other again and again. So I have to believe in some path of redemption, even for Hitler or Trump. Of course, the question as to whether those individuals just get completely reset, all previous knowledge discarded, and invited to try again until they figure out how to be people we’d want to have around us remains a open one. But I do believe in redemption, even for the worst among us.

It’s also interesting to ask whether Trump or Dubya hurt more people. Dubya got almost a million civilians killed with his war over false pretenses, whereas Trump’s lies and preverications about COVID-19 are likely to kill at most 300,000, and probably much less. On the other paw, Trump’s destruction of the post office and encouraging of hate, divisiveness, and stupidity has also diminished all of our quality of lives somewhat. So it’s a difficult calculus to do even if we had a good unit for measuring misery, which we do not as far as I know.

Anyway, the thought of Trump as all of my flaws magnified, plus a few is a disquieting one, without a doubt. The one thing I can say without a doubt is I’d rather be me than him.

One Response to “Flaws”

  1. Firesong Says:

    Most people share certain flaws, like lying (shading the truth, omitting details, etc), or being angry at others. Sometimes anger isn’t even a flaw: it’s an appropriate reaction to an unjust system. Would it be better if nobody was angry or hated other people? Yes, it would. But we don’t live in the kind of world where we shouldn’t be angry at what we see and notice happening around us. Sadly.

    You are *nothing* like Donald Trump. His main flaws are a total lack of empathy, treating other people like objects or obstacles (partly because of the aforementioned lack of empathy), an inability to admit being wrong, and overwhelming greed. That doesn’t sound like you to me. Yes, he lies. Constantly. We all lie to some degree or other. As with the difference between medicine and poison, it’s the *dose* that matters. It’s the reasoning behind it all, too. Everything he does is to enrich or empower himself (and his family, by association). That’s the problem. He does not care about anyone else’s suffering or even death. Nobody else *matters* to him.

    I know that comparing yourself to evil people is something you do. It’s like an intellectual exercise. But coming away with the idea that you and those people are more similar than you are different… well, that’s a bad idea. It’s only true in the sense that all humans are more similar than different, really. You are *not* the same, and you *can* condemn others for their lack of morality and the suffering they inflict on others — the suffering they actively *choose* to inflict, much of the time. But it’s in your nature to doubt yourself and to question your thoughts and feelings. That, right there, is a crucial difference. You question yourself; you worry about whether you’re a good person. That’s enough of a difference. And it makes a difference. It really does.

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