The term “woke,” which refers to racial awareness, was tired even before all the wrong people started using it. It’s even been used to refer to Joe Biden, who seems barely sentient. People who refer to themselves in this manner are generally a far reach from any kind of real political or social awareness.
I generally use the term “self aware” as a descriptor for someone with a sense of both self and wakefulness. It means owning a mirror, and knowing how to use it. My older brother, in general the kindest and smartest man I have ever known, was not quite fully self aware. He strove to be perfect in life, but never knew why he did so. I came about the reason late in my own life, and long after Steve had passed. We grew up in a violent and angry household, most of which I missed (I cannot speak to memories before age five). Our mother was a saint, but then, I question why she married as she did, and why she stayed. (Catholics are not allowed to divorce, so that’s one reason. But I know that hundreds of thousands use forbiddance of divorce as the reason they quit the Church. That option was available to Mom.)
Steve, being the smartest boy in the family, quietly came to understand that the way to avoid violence was to be perfect. He got straight A’s from first grade forward, never smoked, and while not excelling at athletics, went out for every sport and was a good guy to have both on the team and on the bench. He ran in the Boston Marathon, climbed the tallest peaks in the lower 48, refurbished two parishes, and helped countless young people. He was especially useful to those in dysfunctional homes.
In his senior year of high school, he decided to become a Catholic priest. In our family, this was akin to the presidency, the highest office attainable. My mother spoke of Steve as if he was a saint. He once got a traffic ticket for a rolling stop. Mom said yeah, but that will never happen again. Anyone who walked into the house I grew up in would right away notice not only FOX News blaring away, but also a mahogany shrine with curved glass panes in a corner nook. In it, among other religious icons, was a plaster of paris image of the Virgin Mother, and below that, Steve’s photo. (I do not think he was gay, not that it matters. I merely think celibacy was part of his striving for perfection.)
Graduation photos of me and my other brothers, I learned after we moved Mom and Dad out of that cracker box, were not on display anywhere in the house, but kept on a shelf in their closet.
So, Steve was a good man, a fine man, a smart man, but not totally self-aware. He spoke at our Dad’s funeral of him as a sweet man. Sitting in his lap as a child, he said, was the warmest and most secure feeling he ever had. Huh? Dad gave me many feelings, but security was not one of them.
Well, that’s my past, and truthfully, I grew up mostly happy, having friends and girlfriends, though I never invited any to the house. I’d have to work my growing-up issues on my own, and it was a long project. I was not self-aware as a child, teenager, young married man or parent. None of that would come to me until age 38 (=11). The years 1988-1993 run together as kind of a blur, but during those years I would come alive intellectually, quit the Catholic Church, divorce my first wife, bounce from a political conservative to a political liberal (thinking if one was wrong, the other MUST be right!).
I was only slowly becoming aware and self-aware. It’s an ongoing project. I did notice about myself that I tended to be attracted to the same kind of women that I had married, and realized that something had to change, that I needed someone better. I dated and broke up with three women who would surely have been part of a second failed marriage had I followed through. (I met my current wife a couple of years later, in 1995. She is not at all like anyone else I ever dated.)
I am writing this because honestly, and readers here feel it, this is a lonely planet. There isn’t much going on behind those masks. There’s nothing to mine, no new friendships to explore, that is, unless I learn to STFU, which is no way to live. Having non-mainstream non-groupthink opinions is the path to ostracism.
I watched this video yesterday featuring Drs. Tom Cowen, Andrew Kaufman, and Stefan Lanka. It’s over an hour long and I don’t expect anyone to watch it as I did, beginning to end. However, I noted at the end, especially with Kaufman, a sense of resignation, of giving up on humanity. He speaks of forming new relationships and communities apart from the madding masked crowds. On other occasions he has suggested that it is futile and pointless to try to reason with people, as it only confuses and alienates them.
That’s my feeling as well. William Skink has advised me that it is not as bad out there as I imagine, that there are more of us awake and self-aware than I know. I hope he is right, but if that is the case, then I have but one piece of advice for them:
GROW A BACKBONE!
PS: This maybe useful to some of you. At the gym I use, Anytime Fitness, they are being draconian about masks, as the Jeffco Health Department is threatening to shut them down, and snitches are at work. I have a mask that is black with white lettering, the word SHEEP on it. On the line formed by the bottom of the letters, I cut a 3-inch slit, and where the first E is, another smaller slit for my nose. This way, I have the mask on as the gym requires, but can breathe freely!
Is the slit visible? Can people see my mouth? This is the beauty of it on this lonely planet. No one looks at faces or makes eye contact anymore. No one notices.