Call it conscience if you like. Or get Freudian and call it the superego. But there’s a cop living rent-free in the back of my head, and he’s a bastard. He’s always judging me, policing every stray notion that comes to mind.
Most of the time he sounds like a frightened child, sure that if I do what I want or speak from the heart I’ll be punished.
- It’s the reason I had refrained from approaching so many women I found attractive when I was a young bachelor.
- It’s the reason I never experimented with sex or drugs when I had the chance.
- It’s the reason I couldn’t admit to myself that I might not be 100% straight until I had been married to a woman for several years.
- It’s the reason I tolerated my mother’s emotional abuse well into middle age, and my father’s willingness to abet his wife’s cruelty.
- It’s the reason I kept staying in shitty jobs that neither pay especially well, offer challenging and meaningful work, nor allow me to find a sense of autonomy and mastery.
- It’s the reason I’ve been afraid to share my thoughts and feelings online for so long.
Frankly, I feel like I’ve lived a “good Christian life” despite thinking Christianity is a crock of shit. How is this fair? It isn’t, but the world is neither just nor unjust. “Fairness” is just another spook, like my conscience. But this is what I get for periodically rereading Max Stirner…
What is not supposed to be my concern! First and foremost, the good cause, then God’s cause, the cause of mankind, of truth, of freedom, of humanity, of justice; further, the cause of my people, my prince, my fatherland; finally, even the cause of Mind, and a thousand other causes. Only my cause is never to be my concern. Shame on the egoist who thinks only of himself!
Max Stirner: The Unique and Its Property (1845)
Or perhaps the elder Alexandre Dumas?
Perhaps what I am about to say will appear strange to you gentlemen, socialists, progressives, humanitarians as you are, but I never worry about my neighbor, I never try to protect society which does not protect me — indeed, I might add, which generally takes no heed of me except to do me harm — and, since I hold them low in my esteem and remain neutral towards them, I believe that society and my neighbor are in my debt.
Alexandre Dumas, père: The Count of Monte Cristo (1844)
I think I’ve had enough of people making demands on me and offering nothing in return. I feel like I don’t matter to anybody except in terms of what I can do for them, and I am sick of it. I am tired of being somebody else’s idea of a “good man”. I want to be my own man.
Your politics are boring as fuck, and your morality is of no greater interest. I don’t want to live for anybody but myself. If I could crush my conscience beneath my heel like the self-righteous, prating little cockroach that it is, then I would happily do so, even if I had to do it barefoot.
I don’t want to serve any cause but my own. I don’t give a fuck about “society”, “my country”, “the economy”, “future generations”, “the planet”, “the common good”, “humanity”, your idea of a “good cause”, or anybody who doesn’t love and value me for who I am.
I shouldn’t have to, because my life matters. Does it matter more than anybody else’s? It certainly does to me because it’s the only one I’ll ever have.
You shouldn’t have to live for others or devote yourself to their causes, either. Your life should matter more to you than anybody else’s. We all deserve better than live in fear of being shamed because we had the effrontery to be ourselves and seek the fulfillment of our desires. As long as you harm none, do what thou wilt should be the whole of the law.
If being myself leaves me friendless, so be it. I’ll wear my independence like a crown…