The worst damage a human can suffer is the damage inflicted by another human.
This doesn’t have to be physical damage. It can be emotional damage as well.
The things we say to people can ring in their minds for an entire lifetime. The things we say about people to other people, or in public on social media, only works to recruit to a thought war, which can add more chance of that thought ringing around in the head of the person who is being talked about. That’s not bad if you’re saying something like “Hey, I think Clarence is a really talented artist, and not enough people talk about his dedication to a form of self-expression.”
Why shouldn’t everyone celebrate Clarence? Ideally, getting more people to adopt this thought will get the confirmation going inside Clarence’s mind that he can do this, helping to eliminate the self-doubt that we’re all born with.
But what about when we say things like “Francine is such a fucking idiot, who in the hell would think that the original Fantastic Four movies were good?” That doesn’t help anyone, least of all Francine, who just really drew a lot of inspiration from Jessica Alba’s Invisible Woman, and wasn’t that upset about Galactus being a cloud.
Now, Francine is starting to doubt herself. She already has her birth-allotment of self-doubt, and now has someone very vocally adding doubt to the things she connects with personally, in such an incredulous way that she’s now waiting for others to chime in with agreement. And even though some will come to her defense, not everyone will, and that person calling her an idiot will continue to find someone to stack on their side.
Of course, Clarence and Francine are just people I made up to provide a scenario of how we could raise up or tear down another person with very common approaches that we see today — not just on social media but in real life. And I sadly feel like it’s more common to see people torn down than lifted up in today’s society.
I’ve never written about this explicitly before: I was raised a minister’s son.
I don’t talk about that because I don’t identify in any way with that title. I knew around the age of ten that I was an atheist, or at least that I didn’t believe in the God that was being presented. I know a surprising amount of minister’s kids who grew up to be atheists. I think it’s because when you grow up inside the church, you see the worst of religion. You see how it can be highly manipulated by the wrong people.
I’ve been dedicating my Sunday First Pitch topic to real life talk. Maybe it’s growing up as a minister’s son that has me writing these types of columns on a Sunday. Maybe I just know that this is the lowest traffic day of the week, and I wouldn’t dare waste an actual baseball article on this day. That’s why my column on the Pirates’ rebuild will be posted tomorrow.
If you missed the previous articles in this Life series, here are the links: Life, Love, Pursuit, Happiness.
In last week’s article, I wrote about the impact of growing up being bullied. That was actually directly because I was a minister’s son. For some families, church and religion is an act. They aren’t there for enlightenment or to help others. They are there to gain power, and to add the Religion Badge to their life resume.
I believe religion is a well-meaning, man-made concept to guide people through a world with no universal guide on how to live life — leading everyone to some degree of self-doubt from birth. The universe is chaotic, and in a chaotic universe we all seek control. Some seek to control things beyond themselves, including other people. Unfortunately, bullying is a tactic to make this happen.
The thing about those people who use religion for power is that their kids are usually the ones bullying the minister’s kids. When your parents display that it is okay to beat down on another human — verbally or physically — then the kid will be introduced to that reality as a possibility. I’ve talked to a surprising amount of minister’s kids who were bullied in church. As one of them, I can tell you how fucked up it is to be beat up in a building that people call a house of God.
I could go off on a tangent here about the concept of God, but this article isn’t about religion or God. It’s about something that has nothing to do with any religion or any God that is perceived on Earth.
This article is about the Afterlife.
At any moment, you can change.
At any moment, if you feel like you aren’t the person you want to be, you can just be the person you want to be.
If you grew up bullying others, you can decide to change and dedicate the same effort going forward to raising people up.
If you grew up getting bullied by others, you can just wake up one day and decide that you’re no longer going to let that impact your mental health.
It’s difficult to make this type of change. Not everyone will let you forget who you were, or recognize that you’re someone different. And you typically have years of acting a certain way, versus days of acting a new way. Which do you think habit will default toward?
Eventually, you can live enough days as a changed person to have your habits default to being that person. It might even be recognized by others that you made a change.
I believe all of this is true in any aspect of life. It’s the key to a baseball prospect developing a skill, just as it’s the key to someone changing their approach to life.
The thing is, change will happen to us over time, regardless of what we do. Change just might not happen in the way that we want.
I grew up bullied, and through the years of depression and self-doubt, I had one bit of pride: At least I was a good person.
I eventually learned to create better boundaries for bullies. This was often bullying back, which is a common trend. An incredibly effective tactic to stop bullying is to attack the bully right back. The good is that this ends the bullying. The bad is that you’ve been drug down into the depths of resorting to tearing someone down if they tore you down.
Bullying leads to more bullying. You see it on social media all the time. Someone gets bullied, and they come back stronger. Then, the other side returns over the top. Eventually, the two sides are exchanging haymakers until one of them walks away.
I’ve been guilty of that.
Being bullied can create a tendency to people-please, because you’re so used to not being liked that you would do anything to capture that feeling. That includes putting others down to prop yourself up.
I’ve been guilty of that.
It was a few years ago that I realized: I was no longer a good person.
No one is fully good. In every good person, there is evil, and in every evil person there is good. (I might be an atheist — meaning I don’t believe in the concept of a God or a religion that worships a God — but I’ll fuck around with some philosophy. Taoism is what has helped me most in my life.)
The problem is that my yang was becoming too much yin, and I didn’t like the person I had become.
So, I decided to change.
I kind of borrowed a page from my favorite artist, and my personal writing comp, John Mayer. I disappeared for a few years. Not fully, but my writing and social media activity plummeted over the last few years as I worked on myself. When I would return, it would be a new version of me.
In a way, I killed myself.
That’s what it feels like, because I had so many people who were close to me telling me that I was no longer the same person.
I talked more, and said what was on my mind. I wasn’t afraid to speak from the heart, no longer worried about someone else shouting me down if they disagreed. No matter what I say in this world, I’m going to offend someone. It’s just I no longer have a “Sorry” lined up, ready to cower down from something I said, as if my thoughts are inherently wrong.
On the flip side of the talking, I worked for more understanding of what my fellow man was going through, even in instances where they were yelling at me. When you’re overcome by self-doubt, and you are constantly walking on eggshells with your opinion, you don’t have much time to consider the other person. You’re just playin defense.
I had eliminated self-doubt in myself, and now all I see in others is how high their self-doubt meter is reading.
The old Tim Williams is dead.
I am in the Afterlife.
And it’s peaceful.
No one can hurt me here, even if they try.
While I’m here, I’m going to try to avoid hurting anyone else.
My goal going forward is collaboration. Using whatever I have to help lift others up, while working with others who are helping to achieve the same thing. Perhaps even guiding people to the Afterlife, where we’re not tearing each others heads off over the stupidest shit that we won’t remember hours, days, weeks, months, years from now.
I don’t believe in an actual Afterlife. I actually hate the concept. I feel people can get too caught up on what happens after life to worry about enjoying and doing good in this life.
If there was a concept I’d believe, it’s that we’re all just collections of energy, made up of the same space substance as everything else, previously floating around in the universe for eternity, until we all decided to take a break from floating in the heavens of space to collect on this planet and experience what it has to offer. In that concept, there is no “after” to “life”. We’re in the middle of something larger that we don’t understand, connected by energy and matter that we don’t understand, taking a brief 80-100 year break before going back out into the universe.
I don’t think we’re supposed to know about the Afterlife, where we came from, or why we are here.
I don’t think anyone can tell us those things, because I think it’s up to us to decide.
At any time, you can change who you are. At any time, if you don’t like who you are, you can create your own Afterlife on Earth. At any time, you can decide that you’re not going to let anyone else impact your life. At any time, you can decide what you want your life to be. There’s no wrong answer. Just try not to hurt anyone else in the process, and try to help as many people as you can.
How are you going to live your Afterlife?
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