I have a bit of a reputation for plain speaking. I'm told I say the things that people think yet won't articulate. This either means I'm brave or just have a social skills deficit. Take your pick.
Sadly, I spend a lot of my time having to be critical of people who are, by most reasonable standards, very nice. Trust me when I say I don't do this to be vindictive, or to oppress, or to bully. I do so because I feel it's the right thing to do. You see, when I write I try to be authentic, and to speak without sentiment. For example, I've blogged on issues of obesity and why I feel it usually occurs as a consequence of personal lack of self control. Might this be hard for an obese person to hear? Well yes. Is my observation correct? More often than not. I've also been known to be hard on benefits scroungers, many of whom number among the less fortunate and deprived members of society. Might this be hard to hear if you're playing the benefits system or refusing to work because the idea doesn't appeal? Again yes. And finally, the recipients that always get both rhetorical guns are the religious. How unkind of me to rob others of comfort? Good people, decent people, active and courageous individuals who do so much to make society fairer and kinder. What a terrible thing?
Ok then, ask yourself how kind it is to allow people to humiliate and mentally enslave themselves day after day, year after year? How kind is it to allow a person to actively deny themselves so much in this world in anticipation of an eternal one? I happen to think I'd be guilty of a greater evil were I not to speak against falsehood and delusion. Perhaps you disagree? Perhaps you take the line that false beliefs do no real harm? To say this is an affront to the pursuit of truth, and truth is our greatest weapon as humanity seeks to overcome the challenges of this century. It's never been more important to get people thinking clearly, thinking honestly, and accepting life for all it's precious transience.
Along the way I have and will continue to cause offence. This is the unavoidable by product of not giving an inch to delusion in whatever shape or form it takes. If it makes you feel any better I often struggle to face reality with fortitude. I get scared and feel vulnerable and am dogged by a continual fear of failure. I, like so many want to see "happy ever after" at the end of each trauma, but I cannot kid myself into believing it. The best I can do is work at my character flaws and see what can be done about them. In some ways I'm a less pleasant man than when I held my former beliefs. I'm less tolerant, more direct, and sometimes more dismissive. Yet as hard as these faults are to accept, they manifest because I have, at the very core of my being the desire to put reality first.
Several years ago I wrote a monologue called "Am I the man that God made me?" and even now I can remember several lines.
"It isn't always pleasant, it isn't always good, I often don't behave in the manner that I should."
Everybody knows that this observation still holds. Yet even more incisive is a line that comes later, at a point when I admit to myself that I often put on a face that's conceals the real me. It reads simply, "But you can't see the darkness, and you can't see the gloom, and you can't see the anger that's inside this whitewashed tomb"
So you see, I don't speak from a pedestal, or pretend to be perfect or the lone voice of reason. I'm the same old messy me in practically every way. It's just that I'm honest enough to admit that if any of that's to change its going to have to come from within.