It’s been two years since I made a series of life-altering decisions.
In the aftermath of the 2016 election, I withdrew from a number of people. Some gradually. Others suddenly.
In a world truly gone mad, I found there were individuals in my life who had lost their common sense and their sense of decency.
Some of these individuals were mere acquaintances. Others I considered friends. A few were “family.” The use of the quotation marks is intentional.
All of them had to go.
Some were on the political left, some on the political right. There were a couple of agnostics and atheists. The majority self-identified as “Christians.” Again, the use of quotation marks is intentional.
For a long time, I was angry at them… and at myself. Mostly at myself. I was angry at myself because I apparently failed to see them as they are… as opposed to who I thought they are.
The mere thought of one or two of those individuals still stirs rage in my heart and soul. I suppose that is to be expected.
In retrospect, it was past time to jettison those relationships. I had poured too much energy and effort into maintaining them.
There really was a part of me that wanted to believe the best about humanity… that we had gotten past the evils of the 20th century (and centuries prior). I was angry at myself for being delusional.
I see the world as it is with a newfound yet developed clarity. And I’ll unfortunately be forced to teach this to my daughter at a younger age than I ever would have liked. Neal Postman’s The End of Childhood is on my bedside TBR pile and is proof that the Book Gods are in their Heaven and watching over my wretched and bereft soul.
I’m not a young man. I’m forced by this circumstance to train her to see the world as it is so she can hopefully survive and thrive. There will be a day when I won’t be here with her. Being a first-time father approaching fifty years of age forces me in some ways to think differently than younger fathers… and to act accordingly.
There will be a day when she asks me about some of those individuals. She might see them in a picture. Perhaps a mutual acquaintance will be unaware of the severed relationship. My daughter will ask who they are… their relation to me… and perhaps what they meant to me.
No matter how much time passes… that conversation will be difficult.
But I will explain to her that those individuals weren’t who I thought they were. Or that they evolved… or devolved… into someone with whom I could not have a relationship… because their principles (or lack thereof), values (or lack thereof) and/or beliefs (or lack thereof) were anathema to me.
And I will teach her that it is perfectly acceptable to dislike an individual and disassociate oneself from them.
And as for my life today…
I am happier without those individuals in it. The cognitive and psychological weight was lifted. The voids have mostly been filled with new relationships worthy of my time, attention and energy. There has been a new and different definition to the word “family.”
Most of all, I move forward… confident that my decisions were right and just and good… and that I will be a better father and husband for making them.