I’ve been struggling with blogging a bit for the last while, partly due to the demands of other newly-initiated projects and partly due to what might be called unfortunate and unwanted re-arising and lingering of certain past personal issues.
The related thought that I’d like to share this month - “once a month” having been about the maximum manageable for the last while, blogging-wise - is about one of Satanic Temple’s tenets:
One’s body is inviolable, subject to one’s own will alone.
Two further implications that I myself take as following from this tenet are:
- A person is within their rights to act in whatever manner they consider necessary to secure their own bodily safety, provided that they do not thereby violate the bodily inviolability of other people.
- In the absence of supernatural beliefs about the soul and so forth, the mind is plausibly framed as an extension of the body; thus, any claim to a right to bodily sovereignty and privacy implicitly entails a right to sovereignty and privacy of the mind also.
In connection with world events over the last few months, I have some thoughts about 1, 2 and both together (3) to share in the entry below.
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Some people, such as myself, have reasons for reckoning themselves as “at risk for serious complications if they were to catch COVID-19” that will not be evident to a casual observer. I, for example, have asthma, multiple auto-immune problems (I am not immune-compromised per se, but there is evidence that my immune system does not know what the fuck it is doing, what with the whole OH NOES, WHEAT thing, among others) and multiple close family members in the 65-90 year old range. I am thus keener than most to take precautions to ensure that I minimize my exposure.
It would be really fucking helpful if people would recognize the existence of people like this and respect their self-protection-related health decisions. “Respect” in this context might mean, among other things, “don’t go around on social media making fun of and talking shit about everyone who is more careful during a pandemic than you are.” Do not make fun of mask wearing, or of your friend who still wants to do video calls instead of in-person visits even a month from now. It should not be that hard to not be an asshole about this kind of thing.
People like me are NOT “demanding that the world be shut down forever.” Rather, our position is “if you are exposing yourself to risk in ways that we are not, then we do not want to be around you,” or put another way, “the general public should follow the advise of medical experts re: what is safe and what isn’t, but respect individuals’ choices to be more careful than that as far as their regulation of their personal lives.” We have the right to do this. Observe, too, that in the form just-stated, it does not take any rights and freedoms away from you. You can do whatever the government and associated medical experts say you are allowed to. It is just that I, in turn, have the right to not be around you while you are doing it.
I also have the right to tell you to fuck off and stop pressuring me if you quote the news, test results, or anything else “experty” to me in an attempt to argue with me about whether or not I should feel safe doing x, y or z, as engagement in this kind of behavior suggests that you do not respect my own judgment about what is safe for me. I will not belabor this point inasmuch as most people of even minimal social competence will take it as obvious, but it strikes me as worth saying nonetheless.
I assume too that it does not take a rocket-scientist level of intelligence to see that there is an obvious asymmetry between the choice to be more careful (which at best means less exposure for everyone and at worst just means that the careful person limits themselves in some ways) and the choice to be less careful (which at worst means more exposure for everyone and is only harmless if luck allows that outcome). “My body, my choice” applies to the first of these and NOT the second, in the self-same way that it protects potential rape victims and NOT assholes who use a self-entitled attitude about their own bodily urges to rationalize committing rape.
I could, on that note, digress into a rant about how respect for bodily integrity also means that anyone is allowed to refuse sexual access to anyone for any fucking reason they want to whatsoever, and how people who do not ‘get’ this are thereby indicating that they are themselves self-entitled assholes, since I have recently encountered quarters in which it appears there is actual doubt about this point. But I will instead move on to…
The second main point I want to make is one related to mental health self-care: FYI, no higher power decrees that there is an obligation to be in an “always on” mode regarding politics. Contra to how social media seems to be making many people feel lately, you are fucking allowed to be tired and not want to engage anymore.
In a sane world, you are even allowed to have these feelings without various Internet crusaders talking a big talk about mental health awareness at the self-same time that they carry on as if everyone less “on” than they themselves are is clearly, obviously some kind of Actually Terrible Person.
This issue is proximate to what I was talking about in my past entry about spiritual pipe-dreams and vicious human animals: that guilt and anxiety that you sit around your house feeling does NOT, in fact, charge the magic-laser-beam super-weapon without which Team Good will lose the war against Team Evil. Team Good would in fact be better served by you having fully-on times when you advocate to the best of your ability, alternating with fully-off times when you are taking a break to recharge. Moreover, Team Good would allow you that if they were an actual effective force for social reform rather than apocalyptic dualists over-invested in utopian absolutism, as per what my just-linked previous blog post argues.
This issue is also proximate to the blog I wrote not long ago about banishing and why that is a useful, healthy practice - namely, you are allowed to assert sovereignty over your own mental and emotional space, and banishing is one method by which that can be asserted (in combination with obvious real-life down-to-earth measures such as stop reloading your social media feed already.)
I want to clarify, before moving on, that I grasp that what I am pushing back against in this section is probably an unintended side-effect of social media, rather than a matter of people going out and intentionally trying to make other people feel this way. The point thus has little or nothing to do with trying to make anyone feel like they should post less politics or etc. Rather, the point is that the effect I am describing is a problem inasmuch as people experience it, and inasmuch as they experience it, they should not be made to feel like they must then put up with it and continue engaging solely in order to avoid being labeled an Actually Terrible Person. If you do not feel that you have your own space within your own mind, that is a problem and you are within your rights to do what needs to be done to fix it.
Finally, connecting the two issues above: there are some people who, on account of their personal assessment of their degree of risk during the pandemic, both do not want to protest and do not want to be around anyone who has been protesting, because regardless of how important a cause it is and how careful people are, it is still a crowd situation, and they are just not comfortable with that.
Just as this person is like “government says that everyone is OK to take transit with masks on, and that’s great for them, but I personally don’t feel safe in that setting, so I don’t want to be on it,” they are also like “democracy says everyone is OK to protest because that’s a fundamental right, and that’s great, but I personally don’t feel safe in that setting, so I don’t want to be involved in it” - i.e. see my previous point re: they are NOT demanding that everything be shut down, and similarly, they are NOT demanding that other people not protest, but just saying that they personally do not want to be around that risk factor if so.
Similarly, there are also people who are crowd-averse even in the absence of pandemics, or who have other mental health factors that limit their willingness to engage, etc. Lumping all such people into the same category as Actually Terrible People (i.e. assuming that “really” they just don’t want to do it because in their hearts they are “complicit with the system” or whatever) is unfair to those people - i.e. hello, they are individuals who have their own situations distinct from one another - and does not in itself do anything to make the world a better place as far as advancing-the-cause goes. If the activist-types who have the urge to go throwing judgment around with the “people like you are the problem” attitude would instead, say, donate $5 to an appropriate charity every time they have the urge to nag someone about political participation, I am very confident that this would do significantly more good than the nagging does.
Past experience suggests to me that there are some people who will respond to what I am saying here with sentiments such as “why are you making the issue all about yourself when other people so clearly have it worse” and “well, [marginalized group] doesn’t get to opt out of the issue” and other such statements that imply, again, that the only possible reason for objecting in the manner described is that one must surely be “against the cause” and “looking for an out.” People like this probably did not even get through the first of the three paragraphs above without some part of their brain chirping up with “well I’m sure some people are like that, but there are also people who are complacent about social justice who ought to be called out, and I don’t like what you’re saying because you seem to be blocking that.”
To those people, I would then say: if you are reacting this way toward someone whom you claim is a “friend,” then either you are not really friends or you do not actually grasp what it means to be a “friend.” I assert this because when you act in the way I just described, it really, really seems like you care more about policing the political purity of Team Good - heaven forbid some Actually Terrible Person sneak by with their clearly-dubious excuse for being less political, oh noes! - than you do about recognizing and accepting that, due to different life experiences and circumstances than yours, your non-protesting friend may have needs and limitations that you do not, and therefore would be better served by your prioritizing a show of empathy toward them over your need to virtue-signal in every single conversation ever. Hmm, different needs & limitations than yours… almost sounds like something you could check your privilege over, doesn’t it?
And as to the person at the receiving end of this kind of thing: you are 100% within your rights to just stop talking to these people / tell them to fuck off. Friends care about the well-being of other friends. Friends do NOT make you feel like shit over your desire to protect your physical and/or mental health. If someone acts as if their only real friend is ideology, then steer clear of that person, because they are thereby demonstrating that they are not your friend.
Anyone who uses the above rationale to eliminate all “social justice warriors” from their friend circle is profoundly missing my point, as I am talking about an issue arising via specific individuals’ treatment of other specific individuals, vs. lots of people in that scene are humane and caring such that the issue at hand has nothing to do with them.
One should also not lose sight of the more fundamental general principle that all of the above is just one case of, namely if ANYONE treats you in a manner that suggests they don’t respect your concerns about your needs physical-and-mental-health-wise, that is a fucking problem and it is your right to acknowledge it as such. From this perspective, the protester has no more right to be offended by the-cautious-person-not-wanting-to-be-around-them than the person who’s a front-line worker of some kind or the person who’s got kids going out playing with their friends every day or etc.
In all of those cases, the cautious person’s issue is simply and flatly “you have been around too many people.” So don’t turn it into some other issue that it’s not just because everything in your universe revolves around that issue!
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This is more personal/emotional of an issue than some of the other entries I’ve written on this blog, and not something I necessarily want to make a habit of.
I’ve had much of this on my mind for quite some time now, though, and getting it out in text - in an at-least-tangentially-relevant-to-Satanism form, no less - is then helpful in pursuing the very thing I am talking about here re: re-taking ownership of one’s own mental space.
Here’s hoping that others with similar needs are also finding time and space to do whatever is needful in taking care of themselves.