Intimacy Without Compassion Is Cruelty

This post is defensive. As I expand my public profile and engage a larger community, I am reminded of relevant conversations I've had with friends. A lot of my friends joke that I would make a good cult leader. If anything, they mean it as an offensive, back-handed compliment. It has extremely negative connotations. I don't feel verbally attacked by these people, but their words are loaded comments aimed at me, which I feel should be addressed. If my closest friends can conjure these jests for playful sport, then opponents could certainly attempt to craft the same ideas for my detriment. Let's just be very clear. A cult relies on an infallible leader or authority, and I am a fallibilist who believes one should always question authority. I find myself wrong and make mistakes like everyone– I am not delusional (I think cults and cult leaders tend to be delusional). Cults are notoriously closed societies, and I am for an open society.

I have also been compared to the Brett Easton Ellis character, Patrick Bateman. A charismatic, materialistic, sociopathic, duplicitous, and murderous psychopath. Like La Roux, I have very thick skin, but this characterization is an alarming bullet aimed at my heart if someone ever means it seriously.

For those who care, I actually prefer Guetta's "Titanium" to "Bulletproof."

Obviously, I don't think they mean to imply I'm an immoral atrocity, but the scary thing is it says what I remind some people of, so it makes me defensive. Patrick Bateman's character is extremely erratic. His lack of compassion and fits of extreme hatred go frighteningly unnoticed by everyone around him.

I am far from bulletproof, but will dare to humor my critics– lest anything should be confused, by saying American Psycho is one of my favorite movies, and I also loved reading the chilling novel. I have been known to say I "love" Patrick Bateman, but that is because he is a revealing satire of postmodern madness. Regarding similarities– I might seem erratic to some, but I am not. The pattern is that I am open. I come across as uninhibited, with limited restraints. For example, here's a selection of some of my old Facebook profile pictures showing me at age 7, in highschool, and my freshman year in college.

I have definitely grown up, but I am still somewhat similar. Make no mistake– I get excited, and even emotionally roused in conversation, and people (including my mother) describe me as occasionally intense.

I will hazard to entertain my critics further. So why, I imagine would people compare me to a cultist? Perhaps it's because I come across as an ocassional proselytizer (someone who tries to persuade people to join a religion, cause, or group). That's not an unfair characterization.

My dad has passingly called me Elmer Gantry as a playful jab, but I don't know how many people will understand the reference. This is an amazing movie, and Burt Lancaster is one of my favorite actors. I'll let that sleeping dog lie for now.

But all this reminds me of something Penn Jillette said in an interview for Big Think:

"When you've put yourself out on television and on radio as someone who really does believe in objective truth, there is not a sentence that I will say in this interview that won't get three or four tweets of somebody with information busting me on it. And they're right, you know, very rarely am I busted on something where I'm right. If someone is taking the trouble to let me know I've said something wrong, chances are I'm wrong."

"But that's the world I live in. I want to live in a world of a marketplace of ideas where everybody is busted on their bullshit all the time because I think that's the way we get to truth. That is also what respect is. What we call tolerance nowadays, maybe always—I'm always skeptical about the "nowadays" thing. I don't think things get that much different. What we call 'tolerance' is often just condescending. It's often just saying, "Okay, you believe what you want to believe, that's fine with me." I think true respect... it's one of the reasons I get along so much better with fundamentalist Christians than I do with liberal Christians because fundamentalist Christians I can look them in the eye and say, 'You are wrong.' They also know that I will always fight for their right to say that."

"And I will celebrate their right to say that but I will look them in the eye and say, 'You're wrong.' And fundamentalists will look me in the eye and say, 'You're wrong.' And that to me is respect. The more liberal religious people who go 'There are many paths to truth, you just go on and maybe you'll find your way'... is the way you talk to a child. And I bristle at that, so I do very well with proselytizing hardcore fundamentalists, and in a very deep level I respect them, and at a very deep level I think I share a big part of their heart. I think in a certain sense I'm a preacher. My heart is there."

Regarding monogamy and nonmonogamy, I don't think there is a right or a wrong. If they are choices (which they are and should be) they are both valid choices. I don't think one is better than the other. However, I think one is more free than the other by nature (whatever that is worth to you).

As an open person, I have an intimate relationship with my readers. I will close with the ardent assertion that I am an extremely compassionate person. It is my faith in humanity, my love for others, and a desire to spread happiness that gives me the courage to speak openly and the comfort to vulnerably expose myself.