(Title is a song by Orden Ogan, a great band that doesn’t get nearly enough love even in metal circles.)
In another timeline, this was the day I proposed. No, really. A few months ago, when I was still riding the high of getting a job, I let myself believe that. I planned for it. Today would be the day I drove 100 miles to the home of my beloved, got down on one knee, and asked her to be mine forever.
In this timeline, things went a little differently. I haven’t talked to her in over a month, and the reason is quite simple: I don’t feel deserving. Of her, of a relationship, of happiness itself. I haven’t for a long time, but the past few weeks have made that feeling (or lack of feeling, I suppose) grow by leaps and bounds.
I don’t believe in myself. That’s just a fact. Not only do I not, but I can only question those who do. Why? What have I done that would give you the impression that I’m worthy of that? Why would you think I have an upside? Because I certainly don’t see one.
The question I’ve been reflecting on lately, then, is a natural extension. Since I don’t believe in my own abilities or worth, what do I believe in?
I’m not a religious man. I think I’ve stated that often enough. I grew up in a very evangelical family, and that experience turned me off organized religion, although I still subscribe to a kind of “cultural Christianity”, as it is known. Growing up as an inquisitive, rational thinker, I studied faiths of various sorts, looking for the inspiration so many have claimed to find. What I’ve determined is that the metaphysical is not something that can be studied. It can’t be explained by reason or scientific methods, only personal revelation. As I’ve never had any of those, I consider myself an agnostic in the literal sense of the word: one who does not know.
I also call myself a humanist (in that same literal sense) because I truly have faith in humanity as a whole, in progress and the ability for us to overcome obstacles set by the environment or our fellow human beings. The past two years have shaken that faith to its very core, as I have seen more than half the population of this country, including some of my closest friends and relatives, abandon the notion of cooperation and the Enlightenment ideals I hold dear, replacing them with divisive hatred and prejudice. I continue to believe that we can be better if we all work together toward the common goals of liberty, equality, and prosperity. I am fast becoming a believer in the idea that we unfortunately won’t get to that point without a lot of bloodshed.
I strongly believe that knowledge is power. Learning opens doors. Hiding information harms us all. My brother and I often argue over that tired old thought experiment: What if we discovered aliens? Should the discoverers keep that a secret? He says yes, that the potential for mass panic is too great. I counter by arguing that the knowledge itself is worth it, that the benefits of understanding that we are not alone in the universe outweigh any possible negatives. Ignorance, in my opinion, is not bliss. It is a prison.
I wholeheartedly believe in the necessity and indivisibility of the family. I come from a broken home, and I long ago vowed never to create one of my own. Today, even this has become political, as the very idea of the family unit is under attack, so I must side with the political movement that supports healthy families over single mothers with a string of divorces, or hormone replacements, or eugenic sterilization. If that makes you think of me a bad person, so be it. I admit that some of my allies on this issue hold views I find repugnant. Politics, after all, makes strange bedfellows.
The last point I want to make here is related, and it is, in a sense, the belief I hold most dear. While I don’t believe in any divine purpose to human life (see above for my reasoning), I absolutely believe that we are born with one natural purpose above all: reproduction. Our first goal, as per Darwinian evolution, is the survival of the species and our genetic lineage. If we do that, we are successful biological organisms. If we don’t, we’ve failed. It’s that simple.
Maybe it’s too reductionist, but it does have its advantages. Cries of overpopulation have no effect on me, because I know that this planet is nowhere near its carrying capacity, and progress can only increase that limit. I see through the transparent attempts at population control via the “climate crisis”, the “pandemic”, and other nonsensical notions. Anti-family propaganda merely makes the belief more entrenched.
Belief is nothing unless you act on it, unless you are willing to accept its consequences. Thus, I must accept the logical conclusions to which my beliefs lead. I will not sign an NDA or attempt to gain a security clearance, because I believe knowledge should be available to all, not hidden away for only the eyes of the supposed elite. I will not do contract work for a public school that teaches the harmful ideology of critical race theory. While I support the legality of abortion, I would not consent to it in the case of a woman I impregnated unless she was in mortal danger. I would not accept or pursue a no-fault divorce, especially if children were involved. Finally, if I ever reach the point of knowing with absolute certainty that I am no longer able to fulfill my most natural purpose of fathering a child, I will commit to take steps to ensure I am not a drain on humanity’s collective resources—if absolutely necessary, that would include preparing to end my life by whatever means are available.
The ultimate expression of one’s beliefs is the willingness to die in service of them. Martyrs, crusaders, war heroes, and ideologues the world over have done it for lesser causes. Maybe I’m not yet ready to go that far, but I have been thinking about it. I have been wondering what, if anything, is worth risking my life. Freedom, certainly. Knowledge, most likely. But what else? What else do I consider that valuable?