Martyrdom, Love, and Fear

In my recent article “Flirting on the Spectrum”, I write about how awkwardness can lead to false red flags and how the world being at DEFCON ONE prevents romance. I have never had that type of fear and it isn’t just because I’m male but because I am not that afraid of death or harm since if it happens, I’m powerless. It is about accepting what you can’t change, being at peace with the fickleness of fate, the disposition of facing all evil with love, and the knowledge that doing that requires a degree of nonattachment to things I would lose if I came to harm. I’m not saying that one should not fear death but that the fear of death true crime and horror impart is disproportionate to the phenomenon.

As a Christian who grew up drunk on stories of the great progressive movements before me. I came to accept martyrdom of various degrees as a requirement for moral life. Civil Rights, Indian Independence, Anti-Apartheid, and countless others were the modern Collesiums under Diocletian and with lions. It was my duty to face whoever threw me into the arena with the lions with cheerfulness, grace, and goodwill. To semi-quote Gandhi “You can break my bones, torture my body, even kill me. Then, you will have my dead body. Not my soul.” And to paraphrase the sentiment “Do your worst and you cannot quell my love for you” to whover ordered my execution. If I work with the homeless and severely mentally ill, I have the same sentiment. Whatever anxieties I may have, it would be immoral to yield to them prematurely and if the consequences of that lack of alertness and defense is harm coming to me, that is the price of love.

If love is not worth that price to any degree, then any prejudice is justified. The courage to put that love before fear is the only way to break the cognitive biases that make racial majorities fear racial minorities, that make the rich fear the poor, and that make the neurotypical fear the neurodivergent. Sainthood is not expected of the average person but common decency requires a degree of willingness to face that level of martyrdom with love.

For the most part, those fears are unfounded and the greater harm comes to the subject of the fear as opposed to the afraid. That type of fear turns the already marginalized into monsters and pariahs. A disproportionate alertness for red flags usually makes monsters out of the weakest and more powerless members of society. And if your approach is if “you see something say something”, you may prevent some crime but with the collateral of ruining the lives of relatively harmless powerless people who, by virtue of their life problems, look sketchy. It is the responsibiltiy of people to love one another enough to accept some of the risks of coexistence.

We don’t live in a horror movie of the kind where attractive white women die gory deaths. We live in a horror movie that is a cross between Thomas Hobbes’ view of human nature and the movie Idiocracy and the true crime genre is the Jerry Springer Barnum freak show for Brave New World’s Gamma Class. It is shameless marketing and even more shameless consumerism and while they’d like to imagine a slasher is creeping behind them with a knife, the carbon dioxide is creeping up the PPMs and NOAA’s line graphs and while the slasher is an actor pretending to kill woman, a few counties over from their set in Los Angeles a woman is being burned alive and the men who killed her fail to strike visceral fear into the hearts of anyone. Blessed shall be the day when carbon executives are regarded as the murderers they are.

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