Freud’s Pleasure Principle, Courage, and Cowardice

May 1st, 1917 was among the most important days of The Great War as it was the biggest day of the famous French mutinies. Ninety-three years and four months later, I was in my high school gay-straight alliance. What those events shared was the refusal to face danger. Much has been said about the emotional weakness of the current generation but it has bled into every generation. Moreover, it is typically said in the context of dating and taking naughtier and less innocent risks. Platonic and professional ghosting is probably more common than romantic ghosting and the cowardice required is significantly greater. It is a truly awesome and breathtaking degree of cowardice. I am impressed by it.

Like ghosting moving from the dating scene, boundaries have too. Boundaries make sense in a romantic context, unlike ghosting which usually does not. Yet, in a platonic and professional context they are both not as pressing and should not be brought up. Even in romantic contexts, they should be reserved for very intimate situations. If they aren’t then you don’t have a shoulder to cry into nor have you the liberty to be open, broken, and flawed. A friend you can’t be flawed or authentic around for fearing of discomforting them is not much of a friend or romantic partner.

If all topics are off-limits that could possibly discomfort another person then the concept of friendship is impossible to manifest. Everybody must then be fake around everyone. Words can be hurtful but what is more hurtful is the fear of ever speaking truth or speaking one’s true feelings for fear of offending others. In which case, no body has anyone to open themselves up to except therapists. But therapists aren’t friend prostitutes, they are doctors. They may be friends with their patients but their primary role is that of diagnosis and treatment.

What is worse is this gets into politics and charity. The great impediment to movement is having to navigate the boundaries and feelings of the members to the point that the project becomes so anemic and slow that it no longer helps the major issue it was meant to. They have not learned that discmfort in the context of a friendship is cowardly but when others’ major welfare is reliant on one then it is a disgraceful dereliction of duty.

I have often been told and had ghosting later rationalized to me in that doing something like forward a document or bring up a topic with an authority figure in their organization made them feel uncomfortable. One of the recent cases involved someone not giving a printout of the outline of what a particular nonprofit group did to a church minister because they felt uncomfortable merely with working up the extroversion to speak to someone which is an extreme, clinical, eschalon of cowardice.

The gay-straight alliance I started this piece with did nothing political, themselves. They were a circle that told their horror stories of being bullied but were unwilling to expose themselves to harm. Myself, I would have rather them done kiss-ins and held hands as civil defiance. Instead, they outsourced their protection to authority who wanted to use anti-bullying policies to roll back civil liberties and increase surveilance. That and they turned anyone against them, rhetorically, into a homophobic monster to whom they extended no grace. The political teleology of maximum fear is a police state, mass surveilance, and hatred.

Ultimately, the move to erect absurbly broad boundaries is motivated by Freud’s pleasure principle.People want to be comfortable and this is a normative pretext to get that. Yet, it is sacrificing long term joy for short term comfort. In the end, life is more miserable for it.

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