Reality feels bad. Or rather, my limited perception of what is real feels bad. I have no insight into the ultimate nature of things. But there are times when it seems like my delusions about life on this rock are pierced by glimpses of deeper truth. And the more clearly I see, the worse it feels.
I can totally understand people who cling desperately to religion or ideology or cultural narratives to protect them from that kind of insight. My mind is constantly trying to do it too – to construct a narrative where everything can be worked out well and fairly and no one needs to suffer. But I’m not good enough at weaving such self-deceptions – I keep noticing little flaws, loose threads that I feel compelled to pull. I don’t have a strong enough will to shut down the part of my mind that says “Wait! That doesn’t fit!”
I was never indoctrinated heavily enough into any creed to subdue such curiosity. I was raised Christian for a few years, but my parents soon withdrew me from church when they were confronted with the dogmatism. I grew up liberal, but soon came to question how free we could ever really be. I was relatively progressive, but never enough to fully convince myself that utopia was really achievable. I was a humanist, without really believing in humanity as a whole.
What clarity strips you of is the capacity to see heroes and villains. There are still more or less harmful acts, but these are perpetuated by members of a species reacting in predictable ways to their environment. There is no fight between good and evil; instead there is the relentless struggle to survive and replicate, and the suffering this causes along the way.
There is no one to blame; not really. Blame life; blame biology. There is no making it ‘right’ (though you may make it less painful.) Eliminate one group of dominant ‘oppressors’, and another will take their place. Revolution inevitably replaces one group of elites with another. There is no real solution to it; to us. There are just responses that cause more or less suffering.
Even just on an individual level, the chances of a ‘good’ life were always small. The advantages I did have were effectively neutralised by my crippling flaws. It’s not impossible even now, but it’s unlikely enough that I don’t feel much motivation to try. I’m not willing to endure much for a 1/10000 shot.
Which just leaves me here, feeling bad. Not good enough at self-deception to convince myself it’s going to work out. It would be fine if I could just numb all the reality away, but I still have to function somehow, in order to survive. For what? So that if I’m really lucky and work myself to death, I can reproduce more miserable beings? Who can then go on to struggle with and inflict misery on others in order to survive. Sounds great.
I need something else to get me through. I need a better lie to tell myself.