What should imperfect people do?

I.

Recall that I advocate using fatties as a template for how to incorporate imperfect people into a movement.

Try to use fatties as your template.  Fatties (gluttons) are funny.  Sometimes you shame fatties for being fat because you’re not as nice as you should be.  Sometimes you tease them because they’re your friends.  You don’t stop thinking someone is fat just because he has done good things for your movement; in fact, you may neg him harder, because in some cases he may act as a representative of everyone in the entire movement, and you want him to make a good impression.

> Even if you won’t neg the fatty yourself, you should be (quietly) grateful that whenever there’s infighting, people mock his obesity — it might help him get his act together (especially if you supplement with positive reinforcement), but at the very least it will discourage others who are tempted by gluttony.  A tiny bit of mutual nastiness helps keep everyone in line.  It’s better that people hear that they have a problem from a friend than from a rival, and better from a friendly rival than from a political opponent.

> If his obesity were particularly shameful, no one would respect him, and that might unfit him for leadership roles.  But he would have to be a pretty disgusting glutton before you decided you would prefer to kick him out of the movement entirely.

II.

From the perspective of a “perfect” person (in the paradigm case, a physically fit right-winger) the imperfection of the other person (the fatty) are a matter of empirical fat: the fatty weighs XYZ pounds, is at N% body fat, has tits, and so on. (Note that the fit right-winger who is perfect with respect to the paradigm case may be, e.g., a junkie or a thief or God knows what else. But we’re discussing one issue at a time!) Likewise, the fatty’s political principles are matters of fact: the perfect observer can gather the fatty’s political orientation from his statements, and evaluate the strength and soundness of these principles on the basis of the fatty’s actions. Also a matter of fact are what the fatty has accomplished in terms of research, networking, organization, creation, support for his friends and allies, and offering sound advice and council.

The perfect observer should not accept arguments from the fatty that obesity is no big deal, or that his gluttony is less of a fault than some other form of disordered living. He should certainly not accept arguments that embracing obesity (or at least turning a blind eye to it) is an essential part of right-wing thought. Nor should he tolerate arguments from the fatty to the affect that obesity is inevitable or irrelevant, that valuing physical fitness is a trivial and vain distraction from “real” political issues, or that criticizing gluttony and obesity splits off potential support from fascist hambeasts.

The observer does not need to ever contradict these positions, if the fatty does not defend them. (Indeed, far from being necessary, such statements may well be a waste of time.) Likewise, if the fatty does not appear to be shameless or proud about his gluttony and corpulence, the observer is under no positive obligation to shame him. (Remember, enemies will do a fine job of finding your allies’ weaknesses and tearing them down; don’t expend any effort on something an enemy will do for free!) But if the fatty does actually defend his gluttony or broadcast his obstinate perseverance, perfect observers have some obligation either to collectively establish that gluttony is not normal, or to disassociate themselves from the fatty.

Whether observers should encourage the fatty to prioritize restoring order to his diet and physical regimen is a situational matter. In general, of course, they must uphold the norm that moderation and discipline are healthy and praiseworthy. But the advice they give to an ally and friend should depend on particular circumstances. Physical fitness is not easy, making lifestyle changes is not easy, and good people cannot do every difficult thing at the same time. The advice the perfect observers give to their fat friend should depend on his value in the political ecology. For example, a fatty who is otherwise well-equipped to be a public spokesman must hit the gym. A fatty who has the resources to run for office must hit the gym. But a fatty who is in the final months of finishing a novel or making partner at his law firm can afford to accomplish those goals first before rededicating himself to reversing the consequences of years of slovenliness and laziness.

The only genuinely hard question is what to do when the fatty’s shame at being fat (which is proper) extends to misrepresenting his physical state. Such misrepresentation has two aspects: pretended to have an ordered diet and exercise regimen and pretending to be physically attractive. In other words, the fatty can admit to be being physically repulsive while trying to evade moral blame (“muh thyroid”), or can admit to having a disgusting diet and unhealthy lifestyle while pretending to have escaped the effects (“muh bad angles”). The judgment is particularly difficult when his imperfections are an open secret among his closest collaborators, but hidden from the public; it creates the impression that his collaborators are at best hypocrites, or at worst actively approve of his sins.

III.

Now, to understand the position of the fat person himself only requires us to reverse the perspective of observer and observed. The fatty should recognize all the same facts as the perfect observers. But beyond that, he has deeper insight into his own thoughts and dispositions; for example, he knows or suspects to what extent his political beliefs may have been shaped by his obesity, and may be aware of a twinge of resentment or pain when his allies attack fatties on the enemy side. He also has much deeper extent into the roots of his gluttony than an outside observer: he knows, or thinks he knows, how deeply his sinfulness is entrenched in his soul.

I would advise a fatty to throw himself at the mercy of Jesus Christ (if he has not already) and to pray to be delivered, among any other sins, from his gluttony. But he should also accept that without the grace of God he will be a depraved and unregenerate glutton for the rest of his life, and he must work quietly and industriously to contain his sinful urges and thus avoid the worst consequences.

That is to say, a glutton must experience total despair: he must acknowledge that he will always be a glutton, and has no power to free himself from his satanic lust for ice cream and indolence, but that he must every day go through the slog of minimizing this lust and balancing it against its horrifying consequences. A despairing glutton will always be a glutton, but he may hope to be a self-controlled glutton, a thin glutton, a fit glutton. He starts with understanding that the sin of gluttony is a form of disordered living; he goes on to tracing gluttony out to its baneful effects; then the glutton looks inward at his own sinfulness, the causes, and tries to figure out how to dis-connect them from the causal nexus that leads to unhappiness and suffering.

This, in turn, requires looking at the disposition of an ordered soul, the virtue of moderation, and trying to understand the teleological function of this disposition in terms of the emotional states it creates and the ways they serve the health of the organism. A glutton cannot follow his instincts and expect to arrive at the natural good they promise, but he can see what natural goods accrue to moderate men and force himself to take the steps that will, in the long run, deliver to him the same goals.

IV.

If you review my suggestions, I think you will have a very easy time explaining to others (right-wing or left-wing, perfect or imperfect) why the right has so much trouble with fornicators and homosexuals.

It is notorious that homosexuals do not just want to be tolerated (i.e., free from punishment or persecution for their sexual activities), but allowed to transform their sin into a badge of pride and parade it around the public square. Nearly all right-wing homosexuals accept that homosexuality is abnormal, and most are eager to admit that they (or anyone else) would be much happier if they were not gay. But they typically think of their desires only as inconvenient, not as impulses that push them to do what is actively harmful to themselves and to others.

In other words, they think that their inconvenient desires are riskier or costlier to satisfy, but they do not question whether they need to be satisfied at all, and only very superficially consider whether they satisfy an actual need that human beings have. And even right-wing homosexuals only rarely and very hesitantly will admit that their gay lives are not just imperfect but sinful and their sodomite desires are the gentle whispering of the Devil. This failure to recognize the reality of sin corresponds to, and likely causes, the inability to see their error as a failure to function as a human being.

Given a sinner who cannot abstain from sodomy and is honest about this failing, signs of pride — defending sodomy, appearing in public with homosexual partners — greatly compound the sin itself, and should be avoided. Yet nonetheless any repentant sodomite should start by… refraining from sodomy. (Imagine!) And they should also try to hold back from situations which inflame their sinful desires.

But the model of despair and self-improvement I have suggested above implies that a Christian homosexual should understand not only the damage his disordered desires inflict on his soul and his body, but should also contemplate the natural end of healthy, ordered desires. The mockery of gays “in the closet” is, I suspect, a more powerful wound to our national spirit than even gay marriage itself. A repentant sodomite who contains his desires, refrains from sodomy, and goes on to live the life of a family man and a patriarch is every bit as admirable as a repentant glutton who, through iron will, eats only what he needs for health.

Obviously this is a high standard. Many are called and few are chosen. A repentant sodomite who stumbles, sins, and is caught and humiliated would undoubtedly give anything to not be in that situation. But I doubt any “closeted” sodomite who dies surrounded by his grandchildren and at peace with his God has ever wished that he were instead wasting away in a hospice, with only his HIV to keep him company.

But the same logic applies to fornication.

Ultimately there are very few gays, there is almost no risk that they will succeed in convincing the right to overlook their sins, and very few even try to flaunt their sins. But there are very, very many fornicators. Many of them defend fornication; many of them defend fornication on (they claim) right-wing principles; many persuade other right-wing men to fornicate, and nearly all (I can think of a handful of honorable exceptions) wish to be honored for the virtuosity of their fornications.

This is a difficult situation. The numbers are too high to “excommunicate” them all, of course. The numbers are even too high to chastise them all; it would be a huge waste of time, and they could easily find enough support from fellow fornicators to comfort each other. Yet as difficult as it may be, the underlying logical structure of the situation is the same as the (comparatively easier) cases of the glutton and the sodomite.

While it is difficult to know how observers should react to their allies’ fornications (and equally difficult to know how to reassure the celibate that they are making the right choice), the choices faced by the fornicators are simple enough, even if the path of virtue is rocky. They have to go in the closet! Closeted fornicators need to acknowledge that they are in the grips of sinful dispositions beyond their control, and try to replace the disorder of their own lives with the order of chastity and matrimony. That means no promiscuity, no “protection”, no abortions, no whores. Like the closeted homosexual, the closeted fornicator must choose a wife and try to mimic the life of the family man, even though he is not drawn to it. The path that an ordered love would pursue willingly, the closeted fornicator must force himself to follow, teeth-gritted, one step at a time, ignoring his aimless lusts and following instead the calm, clear voice of reason and virtue.

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