A belated introduction

small wonder © 2003 Jered Dawnne

small wonder © 2003 Jered Dawnne

Like many people, I am one of those who normally perceives patterns with relative ease. I’ve always been possessed of a curious, analytical mind—one that even to this day can get me in a bit of “trouble” with the wrong personality types. But despite that natural facility, I am finding later on in life that there are some patterns which have successfully evaded my scrutiny over the years: patterns which, of course, I’d have done well to have grasped much earlier on.

These particular patterns mainly have to do with interactions with people. Specifically, they involve the types of people to whom I generally find myself attracted, or for whom I tend to develop affinities. It’s not an uncommon problem, but I have belatedly discovered that not only do I find myself drawn to certain types of people, but they, in turn, are often drawn towards me. And that has rarely been a good thing for me.

My frustration in realizing this (and don’t worry, I’ll get to the juicy details here in a moment), is that I have never—not even once—been incorrect on my “gut” assessment of someone’s caliber. Not once, not ever. And this is true to an extent that I am by no means worried or concerned that I’ll somehow “jinx” myself by revealing that detail. I have never been proven incorrect in my assessment of a person, but I have, on numerous occasions, chosen to set that assessment aside and to bring certain nefarious characters into my life, very much to my own detriment.

Okay, “nefarious characters” is a bit hyperbolic. After all, not all of these interactions have been exclusively negative or damaging. But when those relationships ended, it was because they needed to, and when they have needed to, “done” is usually pretty unilaterally “done”.

I’m telling you all this, because many of you who believe that you know me apparently don’t really know me at all, and that is, to say the least, a confounding and perplexing thing to me. I realize that I don’t think like most other people, so I don’t communicate like most other people, but I’m actually a pretty straightforward and simplistic guy. I’m a fairly down-to-earth, realistic human being for a city-dweller, and the depth to which I am frequently misunderstood by my peers, friends, and even lovers, is something that begins to annoy me to no end anymore.

In my previous post, I alluded to a change of stance for this blog as a whole. While I don’t know that I’ll ever revive the podcast, which requires a discipline I don’t come by naturally and talents which are more work than pleasure, I do believe that it’s time that I start leveraging the privileges that I possess, and put them to some greater good. Humanism will be a definite focus, but in my mind, that word is often more akin to “humaning”. And so, I figured that one of the better ways I could start those conversations is with a little introduction of myself.

So, Hello there. I’m an altruistic Humanist, but I’m also a realist. These are not self-conflicting concepts, so please don’t trip yourself up over that. It’s not a dichotomy, it’s realistically altruistic Humanism, as I call it. Sometimes, the right thing to give each other is “tough love”, so I’m not necessarily one of those touchy-feely, constantly deferential Humanists whose every action is a litany of “Can’t we all just get along?”. Nor does being an altruist mean that I’m void of fundamental expectations of general human behavior towards myself and others. But I do believe that all people should really-and-truly be treated as equals, regardless of…anything. And I also will give of my time, my energy, and my heart without expecting anything in return, without resentment, and with the only reservations revolving around the impact which certain actions might have upon those who truly depend on me.

So, that having been said, what was I talking about at the beginning of this? Well, guess the type of personality which realistically altruistic Humanists tend to attract? No, no, really give it some thought. Here, let me tell you some things it’s not:

  • (h)umanists. Yep. That realism thing really sticks in the craw of humanists (lower-case “h”) who wear that title when they post on social media, but who will turn right back around and verbally “cut a bitch” over the most petty things ever. My accuracy in personal assessment prevents me from hanging out with posers. Go figure. That’s also why I brought it up at the beginning of this.
  • Freethinkers/Free Thinkers. Modern Freethought is nothing like what the movement started out as (that’s not necessarily a bad thing, really), but it’s also highly conflated with free thought (two words), and free thought can accurately be summarized as, “If I thunk it, it has value to be considered so you should listen with deference.” Fuck. No. Modern freethought/free thought has become an embarrassing amalgam of good intentions and active sociopathy: a gateway for enforcing groupthink upon small pockets of the community. I might get along with individual members of such groups, but I’ve found that as a whole, we’re pretty much like oil and water. I can mix and mingle here but it’s going to be relatively superficial, because the realist in me is going to respond negatively to bullshit.
  • Theists, and even some Deists. Very few organized religions even so much as verge upon true humanism, and the Abrahamic religions are, quite literally, anything but humanistic. This lot is somewhat conceptually entwined with the freethinkers, in terms of “good intentions and active sociopathy”. Now, there are a lot of really good people in this group, and believe it or not, I have a lot of good friends here. Well, to be honest, acquaintances is probably a better word, but we operate in a field of mutual respect. The open-minded ones in this group perceive that people can indeed be “good without God”, and as long as I’m not attacking their religious beliefs (or “attacking”, as the case may be), we can get along just fine. But it’s not an attraction/affinity thing either. Ironically for me (I’m also an atheist, but I don’t use that word as a self-identity), this group and I have a stronger chance of getting along, but like I said, it’s not a mutual attraction thing, it’s more of an operative respect kind of thing.

Weird, isn’t it? All three of these groups purport to work for the greater good, and yet, we’re fairly disparate in so many ways. So, who do I wind up being attracted to, and who winds up trying to pull me in?

If your answer was “Narcissists”, you were spot on. It’s kind of an amazing, frustrating, depressing, disappointing, frightening thing.

This post—this introduction—is already over 1,000 words, so I’m going to talk about the complex interplay between narcissists and altruists (at least from my perspective) in my next post. But in the meantime, I’d like you to consider this aspect of things in your own lives. Most of you who will be reading this, at least initially, are quite similar in many ways, because I’ve intentionally gathered like-minded people together in my social media. Which is not to say that I live in an echo chamber online, but good people are good people. I don’t know if you think of yourself as a Humanist or an altruist per se, but we also understand each other to a deeper extent than most.

So, if you’re the type of person who’s willing to go out of your way for other people, who’s really interested in helping people treat each other with fairness, equity, dignity, and respect, I’d like to challenge you to take a good, hard, realistic look around yourself and consider the people who are benefitting from your actions. What happens to the gifts you give? How deep does your influence on their lives really go? Sure, if you’re really an altruist, you shouldn’t be looking for what you get out of this, but there’s a difference between your gifts being utilized, and you being used.

Give that some good thought, and I’ll be working on a synopsis of some thirty years of trying to live as an altruist in a field of narcissists, and what that’s done to me, and how that’s shaped my growth. After that, I’ll tell you about how I broke the habits I’d built up over time, and even managed to fall in love again at the age of forty-nine and bring a person into my life who’s like no one I’ve ever known before: someone who isn’t using me, isn’t taking me for granted, and who’s giving of her time and self at the same level I am. It’s all a story, I’m told, which needs to be told. So, I am.