Thursday, June 23, 2011

On Going Rogue

It happened before and it has happened again and again. What is it? Have we entered some sort of weird phase in our culture? Why do people choose to go rogue?

I think I can answer that and not just because this blog itself is an attempt to "go rogue" (actually, it goes further. I "go villain" here) but because in my own professional life, I have on one occassion been pushed to the point where I could see no other alternative than to just break out.

In all three cases linked above: Palin, myself, and Corapi, we were put in a position of basically being bullied into a position of silence. (So great was the impact of the bullying in my case, that I went as far as to write a 270-plus page novel about bullies. After years of maltreatment by an untouchable few, I had a few issues to work out and writing was my only outlet.)

In both my case and the case of Palin those doing the bullying were untouchable because of they were well-respected. In Palin's case it was the media. Not just a few namable members, but the whole entire enterprise of news reporting and entertainment media from the radio to TV to the internet. This was not just a small conspiracy this was the American Communications Establishment. To the average joe, earning the scorn of a few reporters can do much damage to a person's reputation, but to earn the unceasing hatred of Media is not the kind of thing that you can come ever hope to redeem yourself of. We want to be able to trust our media and to trust that it serves us as a people.

It does not serve us. But who would know if Sarah Palin had not gone rogue?

And that is the point. Bullies like to present their victims with some Faustian bargain. What were governor Palin's choices?
1) Shut up
2) We will keep dragging your name through the mud

Given the lasting and embarrassing effects of choosing option #2, most people would acquiesce and go with #1. Aside from appearing chastised, there is little harm in #1.

Unless of course your thoughts take you beyond your well-being. We are not the guardians of our reputations alone and, if you take yourself out of the equation altogether, you begin to realize that as much as it sucks to be the victim of such bullying, if you do not take a stand then you are enabling the bullies to repeatedly use the same tactics on others.

Or to put it another way, pity rises in your heart for all those who will follow the same path you do and you realize all that stands between your tormentors and their future victims is your ability to take the pain they dish out.

Whether it is physical, or emotional, psychological, or some combination of these, the abuse that bullies can dish out is limited -- even though they make you think otherwise when they are in the act. It takes a level mind to sort this out in the middle of all the abuse. Bullies thrive on their victims being thrown off their emotional balance.

"Going rogue" then is when, beyond all logic and reason, the victim turns to the bully and opts to continue playing the game by the bully's rules.

It is, as long as one can stomach being a victim, a brilliant move. But at the same time, it is a great gamble. On the one hand, when you take all your bully can dish out, it has the odd effect of causing him to become emotionally unstable creating gaps where he may be caught off his guard. This is what happened when Palin's bus tour showed up her spontaneous media entourage and the when the email crowdsourcing scam imploded just as gloriously.

The danger lies in not being able to take it. Say you snap and try to confront your bully directly -- playing directly into the hands of someone who was operating from a position of untouchability. Or you really are a complete fool and let the world see your stupidity for what it is. Not to mention the fact that even if you take all this punishment, there is no guarantee of a payoff.

By and large, before walking this path, you must be absolutely certain that you are capable of enduring the punishment you will receive. Not only endure it, but endure it with clarity.

From what I have gleaned from the Catholic blogosphere, most people do not find themselves in the position of having to choose between death/dishonor versus life/being left alone and being forced to choose the former over the latter.

And I do mean forced. Because for many who care about the well-being of others, going rogue is a fore-gone conclusion. (When I was put in similar circumstances of not being able to openly challenge my bullies, I saw it as a call from God to fight in any way that I could. I chose to go rogue and even today it is a decision that haunts me. I believe until I die Satan will try to convince me it was a mistake.)

The choices offered by the bullies are a false representation of reality. When you acquiesce, not only are you empowering them to bully others, but you are giving them purchase over your mind and reality itself. The you think about these options, the more repugnant choosing #1 becomes.

What we know about Mr. Corapi's situation is that he was indeed set upon by untouchable bullies and it appears for a very long time:

For about ten years I have been attacked, threatened, and endured extortion attempts. The leadership of the Church never lifted a finger to help me in any way with this. Every time someone gets angry with me or decides they want a payday I have to go through hell with no help from the leadership of the Church. I admit I have grown weary of that. The trauma created by all of the sexual abuse of minors scandals has warped the judgment of some in authority. They are running scared. I believe in my case they panicked. 
The bullies were not sneering, hypocritical and corrupt Church officials like the media has conditioned us to expect but people who wanted free money -- those who want to get rich off of playing the victim card and if you know anything about our modern society, you know that victims are the new saints. Once this card is played, the person in question can do no wrong and everyone else is the problem.

This is why we have an entire society bending over backwards to recognize sterile couples with same sex behavioral addictions as being equivalent to heterosexual marriage. We are just too demure. We are just too polite. And, for a portion of the population; too enlightened.

But we are Catholics. We should know better. This is no Fr. Brown mystery yet so many in the Cathoblogosphere are reading the clues all wrong. One after another, people who I respect and admire are jumping to conclusions that the evidence just does not support.

Mr. Corapi has gone rogue because in his own words, his choices are "to wither up and die" or use his gifts for God. There is a place in God's hall of saints for a gallery of rogues. As GK Chesterton points out many times, evil follows a set pathology, but saints come in all different shapes, colors, and sizes.

It is this understanding that encouraged me to create a blog of a dark Christianity in the first place (and I will write more about that later). We are happiness and sunshine, it is true, but we still worship the same God who was paradoxically killed by His Creation and entered into the realm of the dead.

If I, on my dark, windy crag from whence I scowl upon the world can see the truth in Mr. Corapi's situation, then surely these other bloggers with all their light and heat can see it as well. Right?

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