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Gotta have 'spect!

Let's take a look at the amoral and sociopathic egoists I mentioned a while ago. It starts with a simple premise: you are solely responsible for your life. Nobody else can be, because only it's down to your choices, the things you do and don't do, the things you say and don't say.

You can't be responsible for the choices of other people. You might take a hand in helping them choose, and they may or may not let your opinions affect them, but it's their choice. Nobody can be responsible for your choices. They may affect your circumstances, and what options are available to you, but what you choose is up to you.

You are solely responsible for your life. Fine. Nobody else has the right to demand something of you or have expectations you have not given them. Okay. You do not make other people disappointed if you don't do what they want - they make themselves disappointed. No problem.

And people look at that and think it looks terribly selfish.

Well... not quite. Because you are solely responsible for your actions. You admit you are responsible, and you're prepared to take the consequences. If you hurt someone, or neglect helping someone you could have helped, you take responsibility for that, too.

Why do you think so few are prepared to admit they are solely and totally responsible for their lives? It requires a total honesty.

No excuses. No mitigating circumstances. No illusions.

How scary isn't that thought?

On the other hand, it gives an enormous freedom. You are solely responsible. You can do what you want.

That's what people often see and complain about.

"Surely, you can't let people do as they please? If I could do whatever I wanted, I would..."

... would what, exactly? Bring a camcorder into the ladies' changing room? Stand by the freezer at the supermarket and eat ice cream?

It's usually at that level. Basic, primary, primitive wishes.

-No, I know. Some people aren't sane. I'd never even think of...

Sure you wouldn't.

The point is that there's something important missing in that line of reasoning. Yes, you can do whatever you want. But don't forget that you'll have to accept the consequences.

So if you think it's worth it to be charged with trespassing, lewd behaviour and whetever it may be, plus a good chance of being beaten up by a group of soapsud-covered women, well, just pop a fresh tape into that camcorder and stroll down to the ladies' changing room.

I mean, really.

You don't do that.


The reason you don't do that is that it's illegal, demeaning and because you're not prepared to face the consequences.

You make a rational choice. Let's see, shall I mug and beat a fragile old lady today? I mean, I could, if she was fragile enough, but I choose not to.

It's not a very pleasant subject, but it's worth taking it on.

I'm a man. Theoretically, I could be a rapist. I have primal urges, I can be affected by looks and smells and so on. I'm not hugely muscular, but I could probably overpower some women.

(Note that this is merely an example, and not part of any gender-ideological debate. Women can be just as much pigs as men.)

So why not?

Partly because of walls, cages and barriers. You don't do that. Of course, there are people who dont' have wery strong walls - since there are rapists in the world - and not everybody have walls strong enough to hold up against intoxication.

Anyway, walls and barriers aren't always reliable, even if most people have them. What else is there?

Consequences? Considering how few rapes that are reported, how few of these lead to an arrest and charges being pressed, and how few of those few that lead to a conviction, I don't think the thought of the consequences is at the forefront of the mind of a potential rapist.

Of course, there's always the court of public opinion - what will people say? - which is likely to be more frightening.

And finally, we have respect. Respect for yourself and for others.

Respect. It's one of those hard words, what can mean so many different things. I could try to define it, but I'll trust you'll be able to understand what I mean. Because I respect you.

Respect for others is basically all about knowing and believing - to accept at all levels - that other people aren't fundamentally different from yourself. Regardless of age, gender, weight, colour, nationality, bust measurement, religion, dress and music tastes and so on.

It's not that common. You have this image of the world which basically consists of "me, inside this head and body" and "everybody else".

Intellectually you can grasp the concept that "everybody else" are like yourself, but emotionally it can be hard. The own pain, love, joy, or sorrow is so much more intense that "everybody else's". Isn't it?

Of course, the meaning of "everybody" is rather fluid. Often it means "everybody who is like me, according to some arbitrary criteria I've picked up somewhere along the way". A Southern fundamentalist respects everybody, as long as they're Southern fundamentalists. The degree of respect tends to fall with the number of criteria that doesn't fit. The more similar someone is, the more you can identify with them, and the easier it is to see that person as being worth as much as you consider yourself be worth.

That's why there are so many rapes in war. Soldiers, who'd never consider raping anyone at home, seem to lose all inhibitions when they're in a foreign land.

Largely, that's because they're among people they think of as "them", or "the enemy" or something similar. People like that you can't identify with, simply because it would be much harder to kill someone who is like you are. And that view naturally include "their" women.

In that case you create a distance from "us", to avoid having any respect for "them". It's not a person, but a kink, kook, kebab, raghead, redskin, frog, hun, commie, infidel or whatever.

This depends a lot on your self-respect, which depends a lot on how honest to yourself you are. If you're not honest, you can try to lie to yourself. You can tell yourself that "it's just a ..." instead of admitting and accepting that it actually is a person, a human being, who is not that different from yourself.

If you're honest to yourself, you can see yourself with the eyes of others, and ask "what would I think of a person who did this?" You want to be able to respect yourself, because you want other to do that, too.

Wait a minute, haven't I been saying that you shouldn't care what other people think?

No, I haven't.

What other people think affects your world, shapes the circumstances you find yourself it. We don't primarily live in a world that consists of houses, bushes, tables and beercans. We live in a world of other people. And their opinions of us shapes our world.

Your opinions shape the world for people around you.

You have to be aware of that, to be able to be honest. You must be honest and admit how much you are influenced by other people.

Because then you can choose. Then you're free.

It's still a choice of (anticipated) consequences. All choices are.

But you have more to choose from, by knowing what limitations you have put on yourself. In a sense. In another, you have fewer options, by limiting them to those you'd respect another person for picking. But that's a conscious limitation, that you have choosen freely.

I don't think you can respect others if you don't respect yourself. How could you?

I don't think you can respect yourself unless you're honest to yourself. How could you?

Some time ago I begun digging into these things. I was tired of having masks, of hiding a low self-esteem underneath layer upon layer of confident facades, of not knowing what I wanted, of not feeling able to choose, of being powerless.

I wanted to respect myself.

I think I've come a bit closer. I'm not there yet, there's still a lot to clear out, but I'm making progress. Occasionally, I get a really painful insight, but when I've got used to it, when I've found I've taken another step, then I can feel a little proud.

It's hard work, and it's a long way to travel, but it feels worth it. An even if it's tiresome at times, it'll always be more interesting to study me than watching Big Brother on the telly.

Of course, opinions on the last statement may differ.


What do you think?
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