I am a judgemental bastard. I don’t judge you by race, by religion, sexual orientation or gender, but I do judge each and every one of you, and have never pretended otherwise.
I judge you by your deeds, and how they match what I see as your duty. Lots of you do really poorly by this standard. Some of you do really well. What makes me laugh long, hard and long, is the number of surprises on both lists.
Success is the measure by which a shallow society judges. Our society is deeply flawed, and many of its attributes are counter to its survival requirements. I am not a society, and reserve the right to judge otherwise.
Those who think yourselves success because you have won, or have achieved what you want. Some of you I will hail, and some of you I wouldn’t waste good quality spit upon. Sadly, too few will recognize which side of that line they fall on.
Those of you who think yourselves failures because of what you have lost are not looking into any eyes but the haunted ones staring back at you from the mirror, look at me if you dare. Some of you are failures because you have turned your back upon what is important. If you dare to recognize this you are not yet lost. Some of you think are failures because you gave your all where you duty was owed and it was not enough.
Look at me. Look me right in the eyes and here this. That is loss, not failure. You stood where your duty was, held true to those who were owed your loyalty and gave all the strength that you had. Wyrd weaves as it will, and it is yours only to determine if and how you will fight, not if you will win. The gods themselves march towards their doom out of duty and loyalty. If they cannot command victory, why should we, their bannermen and women, be expected to do better.
I have seen the shaming that comes from those coping. I have seen people mocked for using medication to allow them to function. Those who battle with mental illness or chronic medical conditions are often faced with a choice; to take up the tools and weapons that they have access to and perhaps succeed, or to stay “pure” and fail. Those who depend on you, your spouses, your children, they are owed your every effort, not your every “pure” effort, not your every wholesome and all natural effort, they are owed your best.
I do not take drugs for my chronic pain. This is made necessary by the fact that those drugs given to a nearly three hundred pounds of veteran and former competitive marital artist with a whole lot of really, really ugly memories and triggers kept under rigid controls, make me a real and imminent threat to all of those under my protection, should I take those medications. I do not stay off the drugs because I am better than other people, I stay off the drugs because I can’t afford to take them. DO NOT READ THIS AS A STATEMENT OF POSITION ON THE USE OF MEDICATION. To say I can’t take pain or spasm medication without serious risk is a description of one of my physical limitations, like the fact that I must kneel while others would squat, if I wish to bear weight or exert force. It is just a limitation I must work around, and not a policy statement.
Men and women come into this world innocent. That is not a moral position, that is moral ignorance. It is cute in babies, and unforgivable in adults. There are a whole lot of people out there doing battle every single day just to get up, deal with the physical and mental problems that life has burdened them with. When you pass each other on the stairs, and you smile at each other, do you see their burdens? I do. I can’t stop seeing them. A true picture of that person you are mocking for taking drugs to keep their condition to a point where they can control it and function at a high enough level to know both economic and relationship success would have the two of you together running on the track, you in running gear, them with a full infantry pack upon their back. Yes, you run the same track, but no, you cannot possibly compare your journey around that track as being the same, or mock them if they need heavy boots to support their ankles, where you do not. You have no idea the cost the burden brings with it, and no idea what is required to make it possible to get up under that load and dare to achieve.
- The lame rides a horse, | the handless is herdsman,
The deaf in battle is bold;
The blind man is better | than one that is burned,
No good can come of a corpse.
The Havamal recognizes this truth, as our ancestors recognized this truth. Life isn’t fair, and it isn’t over if you still live. I will not say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, because it is sophistry. Scars do not make us strong, but to bear a scar, you must have survived. Those who bear many scars have survived much, and that took strength. It didn’t actually provide you any strength, it cost much, and may have taught you how much you have to give, but understand each and every scar, the visible and the invisible cost.
We look at PTSD and our veterans and we want to make either saints or demons out of them. They bear a huge weight in scars, have survived much that you either couldn’t’ understand, or bear similar scars enough not to have to ask, because you already know. Each of those scars had a cost, some were less than the power gained from the lessons recovery taught them, some were more. None were free. Few indeed are visible, but all are there. The fact is the bulk of the veterans are passing you on the stairs with a smile, because they are used to marching with the rucksack on their back, and simply accept its weight as normal. On days when their strength is lower, they may not be able to rise with it either, but the odds are they will never let you see that in their face.
We reward the lucky people, and shame the ones whose burden was more than they can bear. As a society, we do lots of stupid shit. I try to do better than that. Sometimes I even succeed.
All of you who struggle every day to get out of bed and face the day, and your demons, because you have things to do, and people depending on you, that is the definition of winner, the process by which worth is build in your community, and found within yourself. You are worthy, and I see it.
People speak of medication, or therapy, or faith as crutches. I hate to tell you this, I can’t count the number of times I needed crutches because my legs were unable to support me, and it was use a crutch or don’t walk. If you are walking with a crutch when you don’t need it, then you are being less than you could be. If you are walking with a crutch, because you need it, then all praise to you for bearing the burden and choosing to get up and walk anyway.
I don’t care what colour you are, what religion if any that you practice. I don’t care whether you love boys or girls, or both together. I can and will judge you on how you bear your burdens, on how you honour your obligations. I may not even like you personally, but if I see you bearing your burdens, whether you bitch about it or not, and meeting your obligations with honour, I will respect you for it.
I will be a judgmental bastard until they burn my corpse, and possibly after. I judge you by what I see from you, and so many of you who judge yourselves have no idea how much you shine in my eyes, and how the things that you think make you ugly are instead to me beacons of your courage and your worth.