The courage to withdraw condemnation

Condemning certain things is very popular. Every group has their taboos.  

A Day in the Park with Barney

A Day in the Park with Barney (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For instance, a small child may enjoy a certain televised cartoon, but then a few years later condemn it fiercely. “Only babies like Barney the dinosaur! I am a big boy now. Anyway, you are such a liar because I never REALLY liked Barney. I was just PRETENDING!” 
However, the child may not recall some of the highlights of their past loyalty to Barney. There was demanding the Barney shoes (with a three-minute long shrieking tantrum in the middle of the aisle of the store), or demanding the Barney board game (mentioning it no less than 142 times in a single week close to Christmas one year), or demanding the cereal with Barney on the box (“Hey, did you pour some of the other cereal in to this box to trick me? I can tell that this is not the REAL Barney cereal! Gramma, daddy is being SO mean to me and trying to trick me”).
After all, the most that the child watched a single episode of Barney was 109 times. The total number of episodes watched may have barely broke 1,000. Clearly, the child never really liked Barney. (And isn’t that the same child who later had a subscription to Playboy magazine for 4 years “but… only for the articles?”)
Old Playboy Magazines, Brooklyn Flea, Fort Greene

Old Playboy Magazines, Brooklyn Flea, Fort Greene (Photo credit: Shawn Hoke)

So, it is totally normal not only to form taboos, but to adopt the taboos of other people, and even to eventually discard them. By the time a young man is loyally subscribing to Playboy (and probably reading EVERY word of every issue- several times), he might no longer be quite so hysterical in any condemnations of the cartoon Barney. “Yeah, I watched it. So what? I believed in Santa, too. Who cares? If I ever said I hated Barney, whatever….”
The temporary condemnation of Barney corresponds to a transition away from an addictive obsession with Barney. Condemning something could be a temporary mechanism for transitioning out of some established pattern of behavior. The more intense the attraction to something, the more energy would be invested in resisting it (ridiculing it, condemning it).
At one one stage, condemning Barney is a mark of maturity (social development, intellectual refinement). “Big kids” may almost universally condemn Barney- replacing their addiction to watching Barney with a new addiction to condemning Barney. However, at a later stage, the “addiction” to condemning Barney also gradually mellows and then subsides and then the original intense reflexive condemnation is simply forgotten.
“Oh, the TV show Barney? Yeah, of course I have heard of it. I used to watch it regularly. What about it?”
Barney and Friends season 1 title card.

Barney and Friends season 1 title card. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Barney Gumble

Barney Gumble (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Now, what I had in mind to write about when I sat down to write this was in relation to my experience as a father (in particular as the partner of my my son’s mom). I will do that. I am also going to write a bit about an exchange that happened since I started writing this.
First, for any of you who are not already aware of this, I used to condemn the sequence of events that led me to being “estranged” from my son’s mom. Today, I had been relaxing (resting) and then had the thought “what if my condemnations about how the romantic relationship fizzled (or… to be more precise, train-wrecked) were unimportant?” What if those past condemnations are trivia now? What if the way the relationship went is even trivia now- in the sense of just one historical sequence among many?
Maybe my tenacious sincerity at condemning how the relationship went was a cover for my rather simple preference to exit the relationship. Maybe the sincere tenacity of my condemnations were to BRING ABOUT an even more extreme disconnection than the prior stages of disconnection.
A little background is that my son’s mom and I lived together for a few years, then split up, and then got back together (including for weeks or months at a time) MANY times across the next SEVERAL years. We first lived together in early 2000 and the last cohabitation was in mid-2010 (when I moved out, at her request, less than a month after she had finished helping me move in with her again after she had gotten jealous of my involvement with another woman and pursued me).
So, I have been grieving the dissolving of the romantic relationship with my son’s mom. When I was grieving, I held grievances or grudges against her. She still “might” be holding some against me. In fact, I held grudges against her FOR “unfairly” holding grudges against me. Talk about ironic hypocrisy, right?
I sincerely and tenaciously condemned how the relationship ended (by which I mean that I blamed her for “ruining everything”). However, what if “deep down” I actually wanted the relationship to end but I was just afraid to admit it? What if I “sabotaged” the relationship, then tried covering up my sabotage by blaming her and condemning her? What if it “did not look good” to just say “well, now even though we have a child together and… thank you very much, but now I want to move out?”
In that case, a person with those concerns and priorities might have done… exactly what I did. Someone just like me would have said… exactly what I said. Anyone who did and said what I did and said would have got exactly the kind of results that I have experienced. What a shock!
Basically, do I need to continue to condemn how that relationship ended? Am I over my attachment enough to stop condemning the disappointment of the ending of the attachment?
Well, once I saw an episode of Barney in which a fuzzy purple dinosaur (the kind that is very safe to have around small children) sang a song about how he used to hate bicycles (back when he was too small of a dinosaur to ride one). He said that he admits that he was just jealous of the bigger dinosaurs who could ride bikes. So, he said that he hated bicycles and ALLEGED that his pre-existing hatred of bicycles was the only reason that he personally did not ride them- but of course he could if he wanted to- but again just to emphasize the CENTRAL FACT is that he did NOT avoid riding bicycles for any other reason but simply because he hated bicycles- nothing at all to do with his alleged skill level in riding.
Playboy magazine December 1972 cover featuring...

Playboy magazine December 1972 cover featuring the last illustration work of Haddon Sundblom (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Anyway, that reminds me of a conversation that I was having recently about how when a guy is really attracted to women but secretly quite terrified of them, he may “go gay” for a while (or even permanently) so as to avoid the “complications” of a committed sexual relationship with a female (possibly even pregnancy). Now, you may think “I am only saying that because I hate faggots and would secretly like to gather a bunch of them together inside of Westboro Baptist Church and then lock them inside and burn it down.” However, consider that in my own case, while I did not “go gay,” I did “go celibate” for a while. Why would a healthy man CHOOSE to avoid the “complications” of possible pregnancy by EITHER “going gay” or “going celibate?” Well, if the man is already a father of children and the man’s relationship with the mother of his child or children was traumatically terrifying to the man, and something that he ABSOLUTELY does not wish to EVER repeat, then there are at least two SAFE methods of never again conceiving a child: either to get a vasectomy or to get a life sentence in maximum security prison that only houses males.
Wait… that was not what I meant to type. Vasectomies are not even 100% reliable (and I am absolutely SURE about that). Further, the two safest ways as a man to not have any children are to not have any sex, or at least not with a woman (even if they have been taking birth control pills).
I have even thought of intentionally looking for a girlfriend much older than me (several years ago) who would be “safe” in regard to pregnancy because of her being post-menopausal. Obviously, that is quite different from engaging in homosexual activities- but not really all that much!
Cow butt

a big butt (Photo credit: Valerie Everett)

What else can a guy do to avoid pregnancy (without “going gay”)? He can start romances with women that are SAFE because of some circumstance, such as a 4000 mile geographic  gap.
In fact, I did that. However, then she came to visit. The “relationship” only lasted several more weeks.
How about starting a romance with a married woman? Well, again, that is far more “realistic” if the woman is local. In my own case, this “great idea” was only so great at 2000 miles and, again, lasted a few weeks when geography was no longer an issue. 
Oops- I have actually gotten involved with married women twice. The first time was also short though. In both cases, the separated wives ended up getting back together with their husbands. But the first time, I did not even have the extra barrier of 2000 miles.
So I am not in the mode of condemning Barney or condemning people for condemning Barney or condemning anything else. I also admit that I find women attractive. A lot of them. Maybe not most of them, but really quite a LOT of them. 
Let me be more specific. Perhaps dozens of them. Maybe even hundreds. In fact, that reminds me of this one time that I was reading an article in Playboy about how a recent scientific survey indicates that most men find the sight of a naked healthy female body to be slightly more intriguing than a poster of a stuffed purple dinosaur.
But stop trying to distracting me with references to stuffed purple dinosaurs. I told you that I am totally over that phase. I am totally neutral now about Barney.
Remix (A-Lot)

Remix (A-Lot) (Photo credit: Brett Jordan)

Now, as for women with big butts, well, like Sir Mix-a-lot says in his only famous song, I cannot lie. I like big butts. (I am pretty sure that we all know that I am talking about the butts of female humans here, right?)
So, people condemn things that they want to distance themselves from- like things that are painful to them, terrifying, shameful. Maybe they even use harsh condemnation in order to intentionally terrify others- to intimidate and harass them. For instance, if Sir Mix-a-lot has any teenage daughters, then, you know what, I bet he could lie- or at least focus on big butts in a different way than just “liking” them.
He could say “Hi, you young ladies are not old enough to wear that kind of clothing out in public. I do not like big butts in this case. Well, I may like them, but I want to protect these particular big butts from the attention of boys and so I want those big butts well-covered right away and all the time in public until you are least 21. Look around and you will notice that our living room is not a rap video set! So take those big butts back to your wardrobe closets and get some long skirts (below the knees!) over those big butts before I have your gramma come over here and give your big butts a whipping.”

I (LOVE) BIG BUTTS (Photo credit: gingerbeardman)

Don't insult the cook

Don’t insult the cook (Photo credit: kevin dooley)

I think we have a follow-up hit in the making here. After all, it has been about 2 decades since that song came out, right?
“I still like big butts, but your gramma’s mean. It’s all her fault you don’t own tight jeans. Your knee-length skirts are all you need. Now get dressed for church even if you’re not going.”
Okay, it can still use some work. I’m thinking Lady Gaga, Nikki Minaj, and Beyonce can appear in the video, except actually wearing clothing like a normal person would wear. See how ironic that would be?
Playboy, January 1985

Playboy, January 1985 (Photo credit: MattHurst)

Now, earlier I said I had another example about condemnation. It was someone on facebook condemning the US Federal Government’s programs to disarm the civilian populations of  a particular geographic region. No, this was not about disarming the civilians of Iraq- I think almost all of my facebook friends supported that. No, not about disarming the Palestinians or the Jews. No, not about disarming the US military or the local cops (no one wants them totally disarmed and how exactly would that kind of law be enforced anyway)?
To be precise, these folks on facebook were condemning US government plans to disarm THEM. What they said was something like “we encourage US soldiers to uphold their oaths to uphold the Constitution and disobey any orders to disarm civilians by force.”
That is understandable, right? These people want to keep their guns and so they want soldiers to disobey orders to shoot at them for keeping guns. They condemn the thing that scares them. Nothing too surprising yet, right?
So, then I bring up the issue that cops and low-level soldiers and high-level soldiers and politicians all may have sworn very similar oaths. Some of them may have sworn oaths to the mafia or the Jesuits as well, but that is a different issue. Let’s just look at the basic issue of counting on other people to follow oaths in the way that I interpret would be honorable.
Imagine that thousands of people swear the same oath. What I want to know is how many of them are naked women with big butts. No, sorry. I got distracted again for a second.
Imagine that thousands of little children swear the same oath: “I love Barney and I always will. He’s even more important to me than Santa or Jesus or Gramma.” Now, consider that eventually, some of them grow up to be US soldiers. Some of them advance through the ranks and receive orders that they are expected to pass on to their squads. Then the squads receive the orders. Then some of the squads start to obey the orders. Then some of them begin to wonder: “well, has this order been reviewed yet by the US Supreme Court Justices who are supervising the supervision of our supervisors?”
And other Sprout friends too!

And other Sprout friends too! (Photo credit: grid.epsilon)

That’s when things start to get serious. Barney himself comes on TV and announces to the American public that “on behalf of the security of the people of this country, the people of this country need to surrender things that they would not surrender except if there was a serious threat made to them for failing to surrender. Therefore, I am hereby threatening you with revealing that Barney is not a real fuzzy purple dinosaur but is in fact just an actor dressed up in a costume who has sworn an oath to perform a particular role within a much larger theatrical creation.”
Suddenly, lots of people who previously thought that the US government was the coolest thing since Barney begin to flip their position like a politician being blackmailed by public opinion. The people suddenly hate the US government worse than they had ever hated Barney. Then, they all demand that all female cops turn in their firearms so as to reduce rapes of female cops. 
What this country really needs now is a good enemy to hate. We have never had one of those before. I really think that having a good enemy would help to break us all out of our addiction to Barney-worship. Barney is NOT as cool as you thought when you were 2 years old. Barney is also not as bad as you claimed when you were 5 years old.
Me & Barney

Me & Barney (Photo credit: airship)

But if you ever have deep respect for some figurehead of some government, but then later have some skepticism or even (gasp!) criticism of someone else who later holds that same political office (or even the same person that you previously campaigned for), well that probably has nothing to do with Barney the imaginary purple dinosaur. I personally do not think that anyone should ever feel neutral about anyone that I consider important. Like I would have said when I was 3, “if you do not like Barney, then I do not like you, Gramma. You better say that you like Barney RIGHT NOW… or ELSE!” And that has nothing to do with whether or not someone has ever said to me “if you do not like my favorite candidate, then I am going to unfriend you from facebook” or “if you do not condemn the candidate that I hate, then I am not even going to be your friend on Facebook in the first place.”
By the way, the patriot lady who loves the Constitution and fears the Government unfriended me. That’s not really at all surprising. 
What surprised me was that I actually felt sad. It really- seriously- bothered me. 
I wanted her to like me. I wanted her to agree with me. I was disappointed… to the point of being distracted from other tasks.
Work It Out (Beyoncé Knowles song)

Work It Out (Beyoncé Knowles song) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What I really wanted her to say was “JR, thank you so much for sharing your perspective. Now, I formally withdraw my condemnation of the things that so terrified me that I would not even admit that they simply terrified me. I appreciate you for showing me my own courage.” 
Then I wanted to say back to her “Whatever. Stop sucking up to me. I’m too good for you. So, I’m still unfriending your heroic, patriotic, spiritually-advanced, politically-neutral big butt- not that I don’t like it. No, really I like your big butt very, very much, but it’s me, not you. It’s just that I need some time to myself to sorts a few things out before I start another half-hearted romance with a 4000 mile geographic gap. Well, unless you are married. If you are married, then, yeah,  in that case it would not be too much of a threat… to my ideal of being perceived as loyal to my son….”
Watch out for what people condemn. People who condemn disloyalty may be people who are afraid of being perceived as disloyal. Or, they may be trying to be perceived as someone who is afraid of being perceived as disloyal. And that is why I think it is so important to be honest that I like big butts (even though I may one day condemn my own teenage daughters if they fail to adequately cover them with knee-length skirts).
Publicity photo of Hal Linden and Barbara Barr...

Publicity photo of Hal Linden and Barbara Barrie as Barney and Liz Miller from the television program Barney Miller. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


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