[I sent Scott Sparks an early draft of a rant of mine (which eventually became “Monstrosity” (attributed to my evil alter-ego, Charlie Centipede)), and instead of just taking my snide refusal to admit that Halloween was over and laughing at it, Scotty decided to rebut my position! I’m pleased as a punch in the eye that my little piece got him going, and happy as HECK to share his response! —RFY]
Recently, I received a copy of a post by the one and only Ricardo Yates. He made some points concerning the evil in the world along with ourselves. (Interestingly, I’d just completed a poem titled “One & the Same” concerning this issue.) Receiving this post led me to feel included in a discussion (or argument) over a serious and expansive topic. My beliefs have been made clear; however, to shut out the people that don’t agree with you, whether the subjects are sensitive or frivolous, is to be like too many simpletons stuck within their carefully constructed echo chambers. [See “Vibrations”] I could not call myself a student of life if I became bellicose over disagreements. As I begin this prose, may my fervency and passion not be misconstrued. The sharing of the post I’m responding to has not been interpreted as an attack on me, but an invitation.
“Fried Chicken or Deviled Egg”
We are born evil. Some believe this to be true. Some attribute that statement exclusively to terrorists, serial killers and politicians. Is there darkness in us from the womb? When people commit random acts of kindness, is it “lay acting” as Rick Yates claims it could be? Or are there genuinely thoughtful people out there? Light and dark. Yin and Yang. Are these accurate opposites or the “false dichotomies” Rick declares they are? I believe the big truth is beyond the finite grasp with which we struggle. As a student of life, I’m ever eager to explore what isn’t easily explained. Are we all deviled eggs or do we grow up only to get corrupted and fried?
“Am I evil? I am Man! Yes I am!” growls Metallica’s James Hetfield. There have been times in my life when I’ve agreed with that sentiment. Then, after getting over what’s irritating me, I sober up and look for the good in my situation. Rick asserts, “a true human has all the monsters inside them…” Is there a voice inside my mind contradicting my joy? Certainly, and it’s quite persistent. Especially when I’m feeling frustrated or depressed. There’s also a quieter voice granting me peaceful understanding when I slow down and listen. I cannot disavow my daily struggle with unforgiveness, loneliness, lust, anger, discontentment and any other emotions. But it’s a struggle not a denial. I acknowledge my faults so I can combat them. As inmate #354411, I’ve been in the presence of men who have allowed themselves to “embrace the darkness,” as Rick has stated. I’ve talked with men that have, at some point, recognized the impact of their actions and consciously decided to discontinue on such a path. Many men I’m currently subjected to (in a drug program) seem to believe the consequences of their addictions are justifiable. (I say this only after overhearing a multitude of unsavory conversations against my behest.) Were they born evil or soured some time along the way? People in society might believe those of us in prison are evil and deserve whatever we get. That we don’t deserve an opportunity for redemption. That we’re all lost causes. That if we conducted ourselves in an upright manner then we’d just be pretending. How many of those not incarcerated are phony?
“The ridiculous play acting that occurs when people who are not all light pretend to be is horrifying to watch…,” Rick argues. I must agree, it’s despicable to witness the insincerity, ulterior motives and self-seeking attitudes of today. Not that they are new, it’s that they’re increasingly broadcasted. (I will save my qualms about social media for another time.) To act as if you have no faults or dislikes is to contradict our nature as humans. A fake smile benefits no one. That shouldn’t mean it’s permissible to walk around with a harsh word on your tongue and a scowl on your face. Personally, I will seek solitude when the struggle with my antisocial self overwhelms me. Being cognizant of your inner self (i.e. social cues, triggers, stresses, discomforts, values, etc.) will promote a sense of familiarity within you which can increase the frequency of occurrences of positive interactions with individuals of dissimilar backgrounds and mindsets. During my incarceration, I have encountered men with swastikas and men with cornrows. Many claimed a strong disdain, past or presently, for people of differing race. These men interacted with me in full view of their cohorts despite our ostensible incompatibility. None of them were play acting when they did so. There is no need to cover up that which can be respectfully addressed and rectified or quelled with effort. Dirt under the rug is still a dirty floor. If there is darkness and light, which column do we fall under? Things can get muddled frighteningly fast. Do we operate within such simplistic categories or a spectrum of shades?
“True white light is made up of all color frequencies,” Rick contends. The “false dichotomies” Rick apparently detests are, from what I surmise, the seemingly oversimplified struggle everyone on this planet faces. For us simple-minded humans, it’s easier to wrap our minds around two clearly defined forces ruling the universe. As if it’s like Twix and all you have to do is pick a side. At first it seems so simple. The thing is, it IS simple; simple, not easy. I don’t believe the entirety of the big truth is meant for us to grasp. The longer we’re alive, the more complicated things can seem to become. I agree with the concept of color frequencies. The world is a dark place containing people of all hues. Those claiming a faith can be nothing more than a snake. A criminal can be adored and admired. A hero can become an outcast. For me, it’s a matter of reading Scriptures daily and speaking with God. Religion is useless. It’s about having a RELATIONSHIP with fellow believers and my Creator. In prison, it’s ever challenging not to have a bad attitude. Tupac once spoke about being locked up. He said it’s hard to be an angel when you’re surrounded by devils. The precepts I strive to live by aren’t compromised or excluded in my daily walk. That doesn’t mean I’m perfect. I struggle, I stumble. I’m tested regularly. That’s the point of life, isn’t it? To allow yourself to come to a place of establishing your values and beliefs. To stand firm in them when you’re tested. To admit you’re wrong if, when you’re tested, you can supply no coherent argument. To allow those in opposition to voice their opinion and be as receptive as you hope they will be. These color frequencies can lead the weak-minded astray. Without sickness, we wouldn’t be thankful in health. Both distinct shades, and every one in between, are necessary rungs in the ladder in order for us to reach completion before we return to the dust we derived from.
The big truth is beyond our grasp. Whether you believe we’re all deviled eggs or corrupted and fried along the way, I don’t believe either option (as if those are the only ones) are sealants of our fate. We all have a negative voice in our heads trying to derail our progress. If we listen, there’s a positive one there as well. Some of us listen to the negative voice. Some of us struggle in order to overcome its interference. No doubt there are disingenuous people “play acting” their way through their careers, relationships and life in general. There are also people searching within themselves for the peace they’d previously, foolishly sought under misguided terms. Now that I have accepted God into my life, I see the necessity for the light, the dark, and everything in between. To appreciate the good, the praiseworthy, we need the unsavory. A true human struggles with, but has all the monsters inside them in check.