Invulnerable Belief: A Life Manifesto
One of the consequences of being an empathic and idealistic person has been that I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about pain.
I don’t know where I acquired my inexhaustible optimism. Whenever I’ve looked at an issue in the world, I’ve always proceeded by the assumption that it was solvable. I never wanted to hear, “That’s the way life is” or “That’s the way people are”. Of course, sometimes that is the way life is. Sometimes that is the way people are. But accepting that should not be a kneejerk reaction but an absolute last resort. We should only accept that a problem is endemic to the nature of our reality when we have exhausted every mental, emotional and physical capacity.
Thinking about pain, in one of those many moments in my life where I have been troubled by the suffering of another that my own smiling and joyful world could not alleviate, I had an insight.
No one resents pain that they endured for their family or their country. We don’t look back on those moments where we suffered for the people we love and think, “What a waste”. Maybe those pains will haunt us, but put in the same situation, we’d do it again.
Pain is unavoidable. But it need not control us. Like an opioid analgesic, we can be aware that we are being affected and not have it deleteriously affect our lives.
To me, that meant that life was a search for invulnerable belief. If our goal is happiness or making an impact upon the world, either way, the best strategy is to seek out invulnerable belief.
I’ve been in what I must admit is both a blessed and uncomfortable position quite often in my life: Answering the question, “Why am I happy?” Why am I happy even when many things in my life are not going the way I wish? Why do I seem happier than others, and why do I find so often that the people in my life who appear happy are faking that which I have no need to? The only answer that I have found, the explanatory model with the most power, is that I have always had a belief system.
My belief system includes tenets like:
If you’re the last candle in a dark room, that’s a reason to glow brighter, not dimmer.
The only thing a hero can do to fail is to stop fighting.
This world matters. The things that happen in it matter. People and their feelings matter.
Love is a way of living life. If we loved each other more, we would not see so much cruelty.
Everyone, no matter what they have done, deserves dignity and respect.
There is no such thing as too much pleasure or too little suffering.
The freedom of human beings to make choices is not just their right as sentient beings, it’s how they nourish their soul.
No kings, no masters. (I don’t have a problem with gods as long as they aren’t masters).
I can drone on like this near-indefinitely. The point is that I have a belief system. It’s easy to say it comes from comic books, video games and movies, but that would be an insulting assessment even as it is part of the picture. It has been my experiences.
I experience a world of joy and light daily. I love this world and what is in it so much it drives me to tears.
So this is what drives my work. Bringing this better world, a world of invulnerable belief, into this one. Making a new world on top of the old.
This is what animates my stories. The stories I tell are ones about that greater world, and about how our own world all too often is at war with that greater world.
This is what animates my political work. I believe in building consensus, creating bridges, and reaching out to people of good conscience. I believe in experimenting until we find the means for a better society.
This is what animates my interpersonal and psychological work with others. I try to be a guide for them out of wherever they are to wherever they want to be. I want to insure that they can believe there is a new destination.
Belief doesn’t always translate to motivation. I find myself wanting to enjoy my television shows, my video games, my Final Fantasies and Terminators.
I can’t pretend that the way that I live my life or the things that I believe are necessarily for everyone. But I do know that I am referring to a truth that is there. Others may wish to tell valuable stories of pain, of a dark world or a gray place. Perhaps I myself will find the need to tell such stories eventually.
But for now, this is my manifesto: Invulnerable belief.