His response got me thinking… a lot.
The fact is, though it may not look like it on the surface, we agree.
His counterpoint to me was that we must be prepared to be judged truthfully by others based on the “quality of [our] character,” like Martin Luther King spoke of, and if we argue against that we begin falling into the SJW way of thinking, which posits we can define ourselves in any way even if it doesn’t comport with reality.
To Charlie, if I or anyone else says, “I’ll do what I want and not care what anyone thinks;” it should be viewed as a dangerous excursion into new left thinking.
“If no one else thinks that we are handsome, rich, kind, strong or smart, we’re probably not. If anyone and everyone can claim those virtues for themselves then those words will become meaningless. We should accept that some other people’s opinions are important. But those other people need to be our own community that we trust. They need to be our brothers. How you get these brothers is an impossibly long and nuanced process that is as human as humanity itself. But if you’re looking for a good start, do 31DtM and bare your soul to other men who are doing the same damn thing.”
In fact, his conclusion aligns completely with how I think and my initial premise, which I believe I didn’t articulate sufficiently. He cites this portion of my piece:
“But, if we use our freedom to forge our own paths and take responsibility for our own lives, no person and no situation has the power to represent a hell on Earth for us.”
I want to be clear that when I speak of forging my own path and similar language I am referring to forging it independent of society as a whole or from others who probably don’t share my values. In my piece, My Personal Declaration of Independence, I went into some detail about my battle with eliminating the need of approval and validation from other people who haven’t earned the right to speak into my life.
I acted in this manner for much of my life, regardless of whether those individuals shared my values and worldview or not. I will stand by my language as it refers to those who don’t share my values or worldview. I am no longer held hostage by their opinions or expectations of me. If I allow myself to slip into that way of thinking, it would represent a sort of hell on earth for me.
With that said, I fully agree with Charlie’s conclusion, particularly, “We should accept that some other people’s opinions are important. But those other people need to be our own community that we trust. They need to be our brothers. How you get these brothers is an impossibly long and nuanced process that is as human as humanity itself.”
I should have articulated it in my original piece, but those who know me well know that the opinions of those who share my values and who I know have my best interests in mind do mean a great deal to me. In fact, as my brothers in the Fraternity of Excellence know, I am constantly seeking out their thoughts and opinions on a wide range of situations. While they don’t get to define me as an individual, I do expect to be judged by them if I am failing in some way, and I welcome it. That’s what our brotherhood is all about. We work together, and sometimes have tell each other when we are fucking up.
This is the “community” that I have that Charlie referred to as being important, a community we are both part of.
The key, to me, is to pick those who you allow to have some voice in your life wisely. If you properly curate this part of life, you will welcome their judgments of you because you will know their actions, words, and beliefs are meant in good faith and for your good.
Likewise, don’t let those who don’t deserve a voice in your life have one. If you do, they will represent a type of hell on earth for you.
Charlie is one of the smartest men I know. He recently released a course on philosophy, Epistemology 101. I am buying it to broaden my knowledge. You should too (not an affiliate link).