I was recently the subject of an effective stranger’s virulent tirade on social media. Somewhere along the line I’d put her nose out of joint, because there she was, 6am on a Sunday morning, wading into me like an angry bouncer, and for all the world to see.
The last message ended ‘the way you live your life is shameful’.
Well, everyone’s entitled to their opinion, I guess. But whilst it’s free country, none of us want our dirty washing on Facebook. If you’ve got something to say, come say it – don’t publish it for all my friends to see, hey.
It’s an odd feeling to be on the receiving end of a passionate judgement from someone who doesn’t know you at all, but no matter – long, long ago I realised that it’s not worth worrying about the opinions of anyone except those who I hold dear. I’m forty-two years old, and – finally – comfortable in my skin.
But then I got talking to another friend of mine, who’s life choices have not, it turns out, been universally accepted in this supposedly liberal, modern society, and that bothered me more than my pathetic predicament. It seems there’s plenty out there who do feel it’s their position to judge themselves better, and others worse.
I think this is less a base human instinct (although a fear of outsiders is definitely something we have to overcome) than a societal hangover from the cancer on humanity that is organised religion, who’s essential tenet is that us holy folk are better than the non-believers, and that the more holy and pious we are, the more superior we become. The structure of the Catholic church makes this hierarchy visible, and we have seen the results. In fact those held in the highest esteem were also those forcing children to have sex with them – one of the vilest of crimes. It’s often thus – those pontificating the most are hiding their own shame.
As an evolved being, I don’t concern myself with such quaint illusions as god and religion. Long ago I based my life on (among other things) something I first heard enunciated by the American comedian Bill Hicks – ‘what business is it of yours what I say, think, eat, drink, do, believe or take into my body, so long as I don’t hurt another being’. If you can’t answer that question, you have further thinking to do, because there is no room for debate here – it’s none of your business.
What is shameful is to judge people in such a way that starts with you deciding you are morally superior. If it’s Klaus Barbie you’re judging, well you may have a point, but if you otherwise don’t have the full facts, you’re just swinging in the dark, and likely to look foolish.
But there I was, judged as leading a shameful life.
So, just for the record, let me make this clear – I am not ashamed of my life at all. Not ashamed of who I am, what I do, who I love, how I act, or how I express myself. The judgement of others won’t affect me at all, unless it is the guiding hand of those who I love, who’s guidance means more to me than anything. My life isn’t shameful, I’m a good husband, a loving father, a loyal friend, a safe driver, a good putter, I make an excellent risotto, and I know and love exactly who I am, with or without shame heaped on me by strangers. I have a love in my heart that makes me strong.
So fuck you. This is 2014. What business is it of yours. I’m happy. If you don’t like it, take your business elsewhere.