City of Angelson September 21, 2012 at 11:15 am
How many times have you shook hands with a murderer? Held the elevator for a rapist? Got directions from a pedophile? How many times have you had lunch with a victim of domestic violence? Discussed the weather with a former mental patient? Shared a cab with an illegal immigrant? How many people do you know who got abused as a child? How many former drug addicts? How many depressed, bi-polar, tax-evading, self-hating, racist, agoraphobic, sado-masochistic, sociopathic or prone to panic attacks? How many of your colleagues struggle with eating disorders? How many of your former classmates were closeted gays?
We all have secrets. Your dirty little secret might be meaningless to me, but it could well destroy your life. Or so you think, at least. We humans are weird, complex, multi-faceted little things. Jagged-edged diamonds dragged through the mud of everyday existence. The world-at-large is a random, chaotic mess that scares the shit out of us, so we try to bring order into it by naming things. As soon as you’ve labeled something, categorized it, it becomes part of a system. It can be controlled. Understood.
Except people can’t be labeled. They can’t be understood. It’s a fable we, for obvious reasons, thoroughly enjoy telling ourselves. A shortcut that makes our everyday lives easier and more manageable. We do this because we find it simply too dreadful to consider the alternative–that at the very core of a person, there lies uncertainty. A Heisenberg principle of the soul.
We think we’ve got someone pinned down, but the longer we look at them, the more our preconceptions start to unravel. Study a pattern closely enough and it turns into noise. The heart surgeon who, while drunk driving, killed a child with his car, but saved the lives of dozens of people’s loved ones on his operating table. The former cannibalistic, rapist, murdering African warlord turned evangelist preacher. The revered author who harbored misogynic and racist viewpoints. “Hitler was a vegetarian.”
When in doubt, take doubt into account. I remember Perry Farrell, in the magnificent Three Days documentary, discussing an old, Jewish belief. It stated that anyone you meet could be an angel in disguise and called for every person to treat every other person as such. I would say that, within a city of faceless strangers and unknowable friends, the idea of a couple of undercover angels is a welcome one. Even though at the very end you will have truly known no-one and no-one will have truly known you, hopefully you’ll know that you were loved and that you let others know the same.
Start today. The weather’s fine–and the city’s full of angels.