Tuesday, May 19, 2009

unpolished questions on friendship and fear

Right behind the popular myth of the person who is 100% bad or 100& good (without sin, for the sake of provocation) is the crippling fear of your and my not knowing the difference. What if he deceives me? What if she fools us? And so, wary of obtaining unnecessary scars from untrustworthy people, we keep our vigils of all kinds on all comers: friends, spouses, political and religious leaders, media operations, medical institutions. [Importantly, and most of the time, it is only a let-down or similar failure that can constitute this sort of personal revelation--primarily because we know better than to hang around the criminals and wait for revelation.] Our cynicism names our mistrust, but it also (if inadvertently) carves out a false space: "us" against "them" means that I'm (for the moment) very much in the good, and, subsequently, that the greatest emphasis rightly falls on what one stands to lose, and its protection. After all, we, too, stand to be revealed, and loss of personal self-protection threatens the bleakest despair--if we are no longer untainted, we are likely with the "all bad." This mindset is culturally convenient and shared in a society that believes (or, better, wants us to believe) that it can sell us its protection. But an emphasis on preservation and protection is a problem for those enjoined to lose their lives to find it. So the Christian must ask, but in the sincerest kind of way, "What do we have to lose?"

What if I didn't fear corruption at the hand of another? (What exactly am I fearing when I do? Death? Something greater?) What if I didn't fear that her corruption would reveal my own? What if the only story that could ever define me has defined me, and defined me with the promise of unending life? Who would my friends be? (Or, too, who wouldn't?) And what would be our purpose? What, as friends, could we expect?

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