I’m not an active asshole right now. But I used to be. My intent and the reasons why are irrelevant. Only the results mattered, and they were pretty clear.
The underlying factors that made me act like an asshole never really went away. I worked on it a long time, prayed, got help, and got a lot better at controlling them. But still, under it all, the asshole lurks.
The world is full of assholes. Most aren’t bad people. They’re hurt. Or scared. Or they’ve been crapped on and they’re angry.
One on one, most of them would be compassionate. But when the other person represents what hurt, scared, or angered them, the gloves come off.
I worked in the New York State Legislature when Jerry Nadler was a young Assemblyman. I gotta say, I didn’t care for him. Our politics were different. He was morally right and by damn, that’s all that mattered. And when he asked the gentleman to yield–well, session was gonna continue a while.
Last week, Congressman Nadler missed part of the impeachment trial because his wife had cancer. He promised he’d be gone just one day.
I wanted him to miss more. Not because of politics, but because it’s his wife. And it’s cancer. And because if the cancer’s serious enough, every second that ticks by means there’s one second less.
Rush Limbaugh announced yesterday that he has cancer. Through his stances, this is a man who’s hurt, scared, and angered a lot of people. For more than 30 years, he’s gleefully been a lightning rod for his beliefs, uncompromising against anything that stood against them. I guess when you invite abuse, it’s impolite not to accept it.
I’d like to think that the people who are gleeful at the diagnosis are reacting to the abstraction Limbaugh represents suffering and eventually dying, if that’s what the future holds. I’d like to think that because I’m an asshole and if Limbaugh deserves that, I guess I do, too.
Catholicism believes in purgatory, based on the belief that you can’t be less than perfect and stand in front of a perfect God. The gap will destroy you. Purgatory prepares you for that. It’s like cancer removal for the soul.
The bottom line is this: If God is merciful, I have hope. If God is just, not so much.
I’m hoping for mercy. For me and all the other assholes. I’m hoping we can all lay aside the hurts, fears, and anger that all of us assholes pass along every day like the common cold.
Because as an asshole, I’m onto you. I know you aren’t really an asshole. You’re just careful. Vigilant. You don’t want to feel that way again.
And you know what, if I’m one of the people who made you feel that way, I’m sorry. Because I’ve felt that way, too.