Saturday, May 3, 2008

Why be true to yourself?

Let's start from scratch. What if certain aphorisms that we were all raised with turn out to be nonsense? Or at least in need of a total makeover. Take something that "threadbare plagiarist from Avon," Shakespeare, said, "To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man." I think I got it close (I'm doing it from memory). Aside from the questionable if/then construction in there, I've always worried about this being true to one's self motif. Seems like a recipe for trouble, if you ask me.

Let's say, for instance, you were born and raised in a strong religious household. Which religion it is doesn't matter (except for Unitarians. A strong Unitarian upbringing is an oxymoron. I'll throw in a Unitarian joke later). Where was I. Oh, yes. You have a strong upbringing, but sometime in your life come to the conclusion that Marx was right, it's an opiate. So, being true to yourself, you renounce your religious beliefs (or political, or social). There you stand, clothed in the vestments of truism. On the other hand, you've possibly deeply hurt your family, maybe alienated them, and cut apart what may be the only thing in life that really matters, especially if you've kicked God out of your life.

If God doesn't exist and your family is important. why sacrifice the real for he unreal? Doesn't is seem reasonable to assume that if God is dead He doesn't care if you're a hypocrite? Why not go ahead and be a Catholic or a conservative or a martian? Keep in mind what's important. And being true to yourself at all costs doesn't seem that much of an advantage.

I chickened out on the Unitarian joke. Just call Mr. coward pc guy.


bekkieann said...

This is a very interesting perspective, and I'd like to know more about where you're coming from on this. Or why. I posted a bit of a counterpoint on my own blog. You did hit a nerve with your religion example.

Liz Adair said...

I read Beckieann's posting on her blog, and I think that she sells her family short. I think they would rather that she be true to what she believes rather than feign something she doesn't. Inherent in their set of values is the belief in agency and the knowledge that all must choose. Each must make his own way. I have an idea that they've got their own things they're working on and are content to let her sort out her own self-mprovement priorities.

That doesn't mean they don't grieve. One feels sad when areas of common belief fade, because that's a powerful connection. Even if God were dead and there were no actual binding power, the belief that there is is a kind of spiritual superglue that welds a family together. And, as you said, Ron, families are what's important.

For myself, I really believe they are forever. Nice to contemplate all that Scrabble, eh?

bekkieann said...

Hi Liz, you may be right about my family, I could be superimposing their disappointment onto myself where none exists. I guess we never stop wanting not to disappoint our parents.

I'm a true agnostic in that I don't necessarily think everyone is wrong in their beliefs, I just don't know for sure the way they do. But I do like to think we go on beyond this life in some form -- that it doesn't all just end here. And it would, indeed, be extra nice if we had the wherewithal to put Scrabble tiles on a board in that life!

I completely agree with you and Ron that families are what's important. I follow your Ronnie and Tootie posts and so enjoy the pictures and remembrances of your remarkable growing up years. What a great way to put together some family history.

Liz Adair said...

Shall we talk over Ron's head, Beckiann? I don't think I meant that no disappointment exists that your choices didn't coincide with your family's. I was posing the idea that they love you enough to let go and might be more hurt that you didn't trust them to love you anyway. But it's hard to know which is the right way, I guess. Hard to be on each side. Dang, families get complicated.

Running off into the realm of belief (sorry), I think that's what God does with us--gives us our agency, loves us, but sorrows when we make boneheaded choices. I think we we learn lots about our relationship with God through our relationship with our children.

Beckiann, I'm glad you check in on our Ronnietootie blog. I love looking on it to see if Ron has posted anything there.
Good to talk to you!

Liz Adair said...

Beckiann, In my last comment the word boneheaded was an autobiographical comment. I realized after posting it that you might think the antecedent was back to your relationship with your family. Didn't mean that at all.

bekkieann said...

Needn't worry, Liz. I can tell you speak completely from kindness. I took it just that way.

Ron? He's around here somewhere. He made a couple of Scrabulous moves a little while ago. Man he's tough! He sharpens up my game. Hope he doesn't mind our talking over his head.