Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Cancel my subscription to the resurrection.*

Lots of people have asked me what I think happens after death and, as my answer is “nothing, death is the end of all things”, I often get asked what I think life is worth, why live it when it turns unbearable, what is the point in it all if there is nothing afterwards.

My personal motivation for living is very simple: people.

Back in 1997, my sister had a friend who I interacted quite a bit with. Just due to life, they drifted apart after just a few months of being friends.

Early this year, thanks to the magic of Facebook, my sister could reunite with her friend, who commented on how he was just about to name his first daughter after me, cause I’d meant so much to him. In the end, they decided on the name of his wife’s grandmother, though.

Honestly, I would have never even imagined that someone would think of me to name their daughter, much less of someone who I had such a brief relationship with, and it was just through my sister.

People surprise me. Sometimes in a good way like this time, sometimes not so much.

When my aunt passed away about four years ago, I started seriously thinking about what happens after life ends, what is the purpose of living and under which basic principles should we live the one and brief life we have.

I think today I know the answer to those questions, or at least I know how I feel as a motivation to keep living.

Even though I find it hard to believe — because I have had more than once the intention of becoming a hermit — I think the purpose (for lack of a better word) of life is just the people around us.

When one lives and establishes relationships with other people, maybe inadvertently, one changes the course of things.

Every relationship, no matter how brief or insignificant we believe it is, affects and modifies actions, thoughts, and the lives of others. Sometimes we never realize just how important we are to others, sometimes we forget people, or we think a certain relationship was shallow or vain, but always, no matter how deep the bond has been, relationships affect people and changes their future.

Less than a week ago I lost a friend. I didn’t know I considered him a friend, I didn’t know just how important he’d been in my life, until I knew his end had come.

We met last year, we didn’t really have much time to get to know each other or to establish a deep friendship, but I know there was an emotional connection between us, and I know we shared things so deep and essential that I couldn’t possibly describe him as anything less than a friend.

When I heard the news, I didn’t feel too upset. I was surprised, I was sad, but I didn’t think the lack of his presence in the world would affect my life in the future, because we hadn’t seen each other in a few months, and we had lost touch a bit.

It wasn’t until two days after the tragic news that I finally understood what all had happened, and how that affected me.

Thursday night I remembered some of our conversations, I remembered his promise to do whatever was in his power to help me break away from the shackles society put on me. I remembered how sure he was about helping me, how he knew for a fact that I could be changed, and that he was going to cause that change.

It wasn’t until two days after his death that I realized it was because of him that I learned to deal with my differences, that I started living life based on my own morals, and not other peoples', that it was thanks to him that I discovered transgression was not only fun and exciting but also life changing.

Today I’m happy with myself, today I am not exactly the person I want to be but I’m close to becoming that person. And part of my progress is because of him, someone who I didn’t have many conversations with, but who I did have long and meaningful conversations with, a person who I can’t say I got to know completely, a relationship as brief as it was important.

So then I knew his life hadn’t been in vain, nobody’s life is in vain. If a few months of friendship were so influential in my life, then I’m sure a lot of the relationships he had with others were even more so. And his importance in my life is also influential in everyone I relate to now, and from now on. So the endless chain of influences that his short life caused is, to me, a lot more important than any other hypothesis about the afterlife.

I live for life itself. I live for everyone I know, because I know my presence in the world is not worthless, because I know even though sometimes relationships are brief, or shallow, or even if they don’t end in the best of terms, it’s never the same to have had them than to have not.

It is impossible for me to explain to people how I feel about them. Not because I don’t have the ability to express my feelings, but because there are no words that can represent them.

What I feel for each and every one of the people I relate to, even if it’s for a brief period of time, varies from person to person, of course, but in every case it is something that stays with me, and many times I wish I could just tell them how important they are in my life, and sometimes I wish I knew what I mean to them.

Today I feel I may have ignored some of the relationships I had throughout my life. Today I wish some of those people who are no longer close to me (physically or emotionally), for any reason, would come back to my life.

Today I miss the friend I lost. Today I want to have him in front of me and tell him his life is much more important than he thinks. Today I want him to not have gone away, today I want to tell him his presence in this world is more important than he could ever imagine.

Today I want to bond again and explain how I feel. I want to tell the world that I do care, even though sometimes it seems like I care more about myself than the rest. Today I’d like to make them see that it is because of them that I go on living, because of how they affect me, because of how they make me feel, and because of how I may affect them.

I don’t know where my life is going from now on. I don’t know which of the people I consider friends will stick around, and which of them will just fade away, but I know there is not one person who I’ve had a relationship with who hasn’t affected me, changed me in one way or another.

So if today I were to end it all, if it were the last day of my life, I wouldn’t want to miss the chance to tell them just what they all mean to me.

* The Doors: When The Music's Over.

** Dedicated to the memory of Nico Arrigoni.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Motherhood: Nature or Nurture?

A little over a week ago (on the day of my birthday, to be more precise), my husband got sick. It actually was no big deal, but his sickness got me thinking about my ability to take care of him, and that, of course, got me questioning my ability to take care of any human being, for instance, a son or daughter.

The day before my birthday, my husband had a fever, so I had the great idea of having him lay down naked, covered with blankets, and making him some Vick tea with ibuprofin 600mg, knowing that he hadn't eaten in over six hours, and that ibuprofin is to be taken with food. The very next day, he woke up with nausea and heartburn, the fever had not gone down (obviously, as I had done nothing that would bring it down), and I went to school and then work. At work, I was lucky enough to get my boss to let me go home early to celebrate my birthday, so on my walk home, I called my husband, who mentioned he had thrown up. Immediately after hearing his words "I threw up today", I had the urge to turn around and go back to work (I didn't follow through though), because I really didn't want to be around someone who was sick to his stomach, especially on my birthday, especially considering my vomit phobia grows every time someone throws up around me, and considering I think of me before I think of others.

In the previous paragraph I just made a brief description of the situation that lead me to have the following reasoning, the sole purpose of that paragraph was so that the rest of my entry will make sense, I know readers will have little interest in my husband's occasional sickness.

My best friend from childhood said to me once that research had shown some women have a maternal instinct, and some don't. It isn't something that can be changed at will, some people get it earlier in life, sometimes it awakes a little later, sometimes it doesn't even come up at all. She made the comment that it seems like none of us have got that instinct yet, and she wondered if we ever would get it...

One of my first thoughts when I was in the ER with my sick husband was that someone with a maternal instinct, in the same situation as I was then, would have thought of putting some ice on his forehead and armpits (like the doctor later recommended) to bring down the fever, and would have mentioned he should wear a t-shirt so the sweat would be absorbed by the clothing and not by the sheets. The fact that I didn't think of these things until the doctor and my mother mentioned them got me worried, and, even in the waiting room, I kept thinking not only was I not ready to be a mother, I also wasn't able to take care of my own husband, myself or a pet, even.

When I talked about my insecurities with my mom, she said those things are not necessarily instinctive, that you learn them through mistakes. To that I responded "maybe that's why all oldest kids are conflicted, it's cause they had to be their parents' guinea pigs".

However, my mom's response never really did convince me, and, combined with the conversation I had had a few months back with my friend, I was lead to the following wondering: Is maternal instinct something you can acquire, or is it incorporated in our DNA? Can you learn to be a mother?

I know there's mothers out there who aren't really mothers, women who have children but never fully develop their maternal instinct. Women who abandon their babies. Women who put their own well being first. Women who have children for welfare reasons. Women who have children and let them "raise themselves", or even worse, "raise each other". Women who never really commit to their jobs as mothers.

I also know there's women who, without actually being mothers, have more of a maternal instinct that women who have gone through labor. Women who adopt children that other women didn't want. Women who feed children who are hungry, who set up shelters and neighborhood schools for less privileged children. Women who take care of random kids and make sure they're not hurt, or cold, or hungry. Mothers who, without actually being mothers, know just what children need, and how to provide it to them, and know just how to act in case of eventualities.

So, is it hormones? Is pregnancy what turns a woman into a mother? Or is it something that is predetermined in their DNA, even before they gain a conscience? Are all women potential mothers? Or just some of us? How and when do we know if we'll be good mothers? What is it to be a good mother anyway?

I think before I wonder if I'll ever get to be a good mother, I should start out by defining what I think being a good mother is (I want to emphasize the fact that this is just my opinion of what being a good mother means, there's no academic knowledge or research put into this):

A good mother always puts her children's happiness before her own. A good mother always knows just what her children need (even before they know it themselves). A good mother never, ever, under any circumstance, hits, beats or spanks her kids. A good mother is always aware of the nutritional value of the food she puts on her children's plate, and she never feeds her children something she wouldn't eat herself. A good mother sits down and talks, and asks her kids regularly how they're feeling. A good mother treats her children as equals, because they're younger, but not inferior. A good mother enjoys and rejoices at the sight of her children playing or laughing. A good mother learns from her children and with her children. A good mother wakes up early even when she doesn't really want to, and she hugs her children good morning. A good mother takes care of her children when they're sick, she regularly checks up on them, she makes their bed while they're in the shower, she reads them a story or holds their hand so they fall asleep in peace, knowing they will be alright. A good mother helps her children with their homework, even if she knows less than they do, and she can only provide moral support. A good mother always puts her children first, but she doesn't let herself go. A good mother loves herself and takes care of herself and improves and cares about personal stuff. I believe being a good mother does not necessarily mean leaving your personal life behind for your children, it also doesn't mean you absolutely must be a stay home mom, or sacrifice your personal happiness or achievements for your children. It just means you know just how to find the right balance, the special balance that only women with a high maternal instinct seem to be able to achieve.

Sometimes I think my selfishness and egocentrism would not allow me to be a good mother. Sometimes I find it hard to sacrifice myself for others, or to realize I'm actually thinking of myself first. I don't have that self-sacrificing soul that mothers have, I have never had it and I'm too individualistic to suspend my personal needs and dump all my energy on someone else. Wake up early on a Sunday? Not having just ice cream for dinner because it isn't healthy? Going to the veggie shop every day and trying to come up with ways to disguise the flavor of veggies so they'll eat healthy food? Watching cartoons over dinner? Who knows how many things a mother sacrifices for her children... Am I ready to do make those concessions? I don't think I'm ready yet, or I don't think I want to yet.

Is it worth it to have children if I'm going to be a bad mother? Actually, the correct question would be: How do I know if I'll end up being a bad mother at all? How do I know without trying? But, once I try it, won't it be too late? If the day I have a child, I realize I shouldn't have had him, what do I do? Can I learn to be a mother, or am I going to leave a poorly raised kid to become a scarred adult? Children don't come with a return policy, you can't rent them out to try and see if you like them, there's no such a thing as test driving your children; once you have them, they're for good. So what if having them is a mistake (for them)? What if they'd be better off with another mother? What if I have children and I give them a shitty life? What if I make my own children unhappy?

It's a lot of questions, uncertainties, fears, but what is best: to try and fail, or not to try at all?


* Even though it may seem my reasoning goes against my feminism, I still believe mothers are mothers, and fathers are fathers, although that doesn't mean they can't share responsibilities and chores, including the raising of their children. I speak about mothers because I am a woman, not because I believe in the traditional role distribution where women take care of the children while men go out to work and provide for the family.

** Photo: "A good mother" - My mom and I in summer '84.

*** I have no intention to offend anyone, so if you feel personally offended by this entry, you're welcome to have a private conversation with me via e-mail or any other communication medium you prefer. 

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Is the past better because it was better, or because it's passed?

I had made it my purpose to write a new entry every week, but with work, school and having been sick this past week, it's become a bit of a challenge. 

Last week I hung out with my best friend from my childhood. We have been friends for 21 years now. 

We have drifted apart and grown closer, depending on our activities, our lives, and on where I was living at the time; but our friendship never really did fade away completely. We may not see each other in months, or even years, but when we run into each other, or when one of us finally decides it's time to call the other one, we are both happy to reunite and we are as comfortable around each other as we always have. I don't think I ever had an awkward moment with her, and we have a history of 21 years so there's a lot of shared moments, stories and anecdotes to remember, if we ever get a little nostalgic. 

We've never had a fight (we fought as kids, but it never lasted long, and it never was big enough to scar us or our friendship in any way), and I think that is due to her patience and extreme tolerance, as well as my excessive need to tell everything that is on my mind to the people I really care about, and my ability to respect her privacy and her space, and to realize when she needs some time alone. So, after all we've been through (our friendship is as old as a person who can drink, that thought has a bit of a shock effect on me, so it's safe to say we have gone through a lot together), I would define my friendship with her as everlasting.

My introductory paragraph is not the main topic of this entry. I am not going to make an entry about a person, not right now anyway, but with out birthdays coming up (hers is next week, mine is not for another two weeks or so), I had been feeling a bit nostalgic and I have been thinking a lot about my childhood and my life, and all the turns it took, before it finally landed me where I had always wanted to be, even though that took me a while to realize.

If, to my usual April nostalgia, we add the death of the first democratic President after our last coup, the President of my childhood, so to speak, we can pretty much guarantee that I will feel a bit evocative of those years when life was harder for my family, but much, much simpler for me.

Raúl Ricardo Alfonsín (March 12, 1927 - March 31, 2009)

President from 1983 to 1989

My husband knows me a lot, probably more than anyone (because I say absolutely everything that is on my mind to him), but up until about a year ago, he used to think I had been an apartment child, well, he couldn't have been further from the truth, I am an apartment adult, but I was definitely a suburban child.

My best friends from childhood were sisters, and they lived around the corner from my parents, our back yards were separated only by a wall, so we spent pretty much all our waking time together, and we had a lot of slumber parties.

Both our houses were under construction (and construction took a long time, because neither of our parents were rich, and they were building both houses little by little), so we had access to lots of sand, rocks and debris. We had restrictions to where we could play, because of obvious safety rules, but we did play a lot with some of the sand they didn't need, using our parents' old kitchenware to pretend like we were chefs, or just making sand castles in our own back yards.

As the youngest child, I had, in addition to my own, a lot of toys my sisters had handed me down, half of those were broken or too old to use properly, though, cause the youngest of my sisters is 7 years older than me. And my friends had a grandma that sort of spoiled them with presents (as a compensation method for not visiting them enough). Neither of our parents could really afford those expensive things we saw in the commercials between cartoons, but we didn't really need them, we didn't even ask for them, cause we knew asking our parents to get us something we knew they couldn't afford would only hurt them. So in those cold, humid, winter days that we weren't allowed to go out (because my friend had asthma), we would get together either in my house or theirs, and we would lay all our toys on the beds and pretend we were at a County Fair, or the Arcades, and we had fun that way, but, even though we had many of them, toys were never our main source of entertainment, we also played games that did not require them, like role playing games where all we needed was a huge imagination, some paper and some coloring pencils.

In summer we almost never spent time indoors, we either went to my  pool, or, if it wasn't a pool day, we would walk around town, rescue abandoned puppies or kittens (we fed them, sheltered them, and tried giving them to people who would adopt them), pretend like we were archeologists or paleontologists and look for "fossils", which meant we would spend an entire day "studying" a rock we found in the sidewalk. Or, and this is one of my favorite memories, we would put together plays that we performed for our entire families, with an small entrance fee that would allow us to buy ice cream, water balloons, and supplies (such as cute paper, stickers or crayons) for our role playing games (we, of course, had a common fund and we never, ever fought for money).

Well, those were just some of the things we did as kids. I can safely say I had a more than happy childhood, even though the country was struggling politically: there were times of hyperinflation, three (luckily failed) coup attempts, the selling of a company that ended up leaving about 70% of the people in my town unemployed, extreme strikes so the company my dad works for wouldn't be closed, and a bunch of stuff I never even understood. And my family was struggling economically: we bought our groceries from a store across the street, I don't remember paying for food once, I'd go, tell her what I needed, she would write it down in a little book she had, and then my mom would pay for the whole thing when my dad got his paycheck; my dad had to go on a QC trip for almost a month (to get a bonus paycheck that was much needed), it happened to be the coldest month in winter, and our house wasn't fully finished (there was a whole wall missing), so my mom, my sisters and I would all sleep together in the same bed (to keep us warm), we'd have hot chocolate before going to bed and we used all the blankets we had to stay warm at night (those are actually quite fond memories, but I remember missing my dad and wanting him to come back soon), and we had to spend an entire summer working at a rotisserie my dad and his friend had opened up at the beach, so we could finish building the house.

Life could have been easier, my parents could have gotten a mortgage and given us a warm house really quickly, or my dad could have switched to a private corporation and get money real quick, but my parents had principles that they taught me with the example. Sure, I was cold, but I learned that if you work hard for what you want (instead of spending money you don't have), you enjoy it much more once you actually have it; that if you follow your moral values rather than your economic interests, you will later be rewarded (my dad finally got the appreciation he deserved in the company he works for), and that if a family sticks together through the rough times, it can survive anything, and nothing will tear it down (we're thousands of miles apart, but we're still closer than some families who live under the same roof).

So now that I'm turning 26, and I'm closer to starting my own family than to those days in which I was under someone else's responsibility, I am thinking hard about what kind of family I want to give my kids (if I ever have any, which is yet to be determined), and what kind of example I want to set for them.

Looking back at the life I had, I see I could probably say it was a tough life, but it really wasn't, sure I didn't have money or very expensive toys, but I had love and a supporting family, I had parents who made sure all their worries and problems wouldn't get in the way of my own happiness and innocence, and that helped me realize that what's really important in life is who you share it with, and not what you have.

So now I wonder if it's even possible to give a child that kind of childhood in today's world. My niece was born 10 years after me and her childhood consists mainly of cartoons, all her memories are two-dimensional. 

Now it's probably even worse, with computers and easy access to DVDs and video games, do children today have a chance at a three-dimensional childhood? Do children go out to play and exercise their bodies and their imagination at all? If I handed out a cracked wooden spoon, a burnt sauce pan and a pile of dirty sand and water, could I get a child from today's time to come up with a castle, or a stew where the sand is corn flower, the water is sauce and some rocks are the veggies? Could I get a group of children to create an entire town where different people have different lifestyles if I just gave them a sheet of scrap paper and a couple of chewed down crayons? Or would that kid be so used to having entertainment served to him on a platter that he would just give me a blank stare and go get his PSP?

I'm worried. I'm worried that I won't be as good a parent as my parents were to me, that's a worry that will never go away, though, cause they are kind of hard to top. But I'm also worried that all this technological world, this world that is meant to be lived indoors, this two-dimensional world of computer screens and virtual realities, will get in the way of my children having a childhood as happy and simple as mine. 

But then again, isn't that everybody's worry? Doesn't everyone think, at some point in their life, that their childhood was the best, and that time and progress are just making life harder to enjoy? 

I'm starting to believe old people when they tell me their times were better than mine, and now I actually wonder, is that a sign that I'm getting old?

Friday, March 13, 2009

Well, maybe I won't take the road to Heaven, then. Maybe I'll just take the elevator...

[This is closely related to my previous entry, so maybe reading it before this one would be a good idea, though it is not strictly required to understand my points.]

After talking to my husband and a classmate (two fellow atheists), I have come to the conclusion that my views on being a good person are highly influenced by the Catholic church. 

I don't want to make this a personal blog (there already is one for that, and I call it a journal), so I will briefly explain where I'm coming from with the Catholic reference: I was born in a religiously apathetic family, but of Catholic background, I was never taught anything religion related at home, but I did go to a Catholic elementary school, and I believe my education occurred 60% at home and 40% at school. (I won't claim that's the case for everyone.)

I wasn't forced by anyone in my family to take my first communion (in fact, they didn't even bring it up), but I was encouraged to do it at school. And though in that particular school, it happened to be optional, I decided to go through with it.

Enough about me now. Moving on to the actual topic in question: are feelings or actions what makes us good or bad?

Well, my basic thought on being a good or a bad person is "you are what you feel" rather than "you are what you do". But why? Why do I think feelings are what makes us good or bad, when it's actions that have an influence in others? Well, here's where religion comes to participate.

I had mean classmates in elementary school, and my mom (who was brought up by a very Catholic family, but wasn't particularly Catholic herself) always taught me that I needed to be a good person and not have bad feelings about them. I was told I needed to always have good feelings, so if someone hurt me, I wasn't supposed to hurt them back, if someone did rude things to me, I should always wish them good, because it wasn't my place on Earth to return the bad that was done to me, God would eventually decide who was good and who was bad, and those people weren't worth having bad feelings about. 

I think that is an excellent approach (and I will probably use it some day if I ever have kids of my own, of course, though, I'll leave God out of it) but I think maybe I did take it a bit too seriously. I started to think that if a bad person put bad feelings in my mind, then I was becoming a bad person myself, by even having those feelings, and then God wouldn't be happy with me, because he knew what we all felt at all times, so He wanted me to not have bad feelings, and to always stay good.

I actually removed the God parts cause I don't even believe that the concept of a God as humanity knows it is remotely possible, but I did stick with the whole "always have good feelings", and even today, what hurts me most about people doing 'bad' things to me is that they put bad feelings in my mind, thereby, making me a bad person.

My husband told me, after reading what I'd written about feelings in my previous entry, that, based on my high standards, everybody must be a bad person, because there isn't and hasn't ever been one person in the entire history of humanity who has never, not once in their life, been invaded by bad feelings. 

He then urged me to come up with a name, "name someone who's never had a bad feeling in their entire life" and then he said "Jesus doesn't count, cause he's a mythical creature". Well, I wasn't going to say Jesus, because I know he's a mythical creature and my husband had asked about real people, also because even if Jesus had existed, I would not have a way to know what his feelings really were. But the thought did occur to me, the thought that the one person I'd been taught had nothing but goodness in his soul was Jesus. That disappointed me, because it made me wonder: have I been basing my entire concept of good vs evil on a mythical creature? Have I let religion influence me more than I thought? Truth is, if I have been expecting to be like an unrealistic fictional character who was supposed to be more divine than all of us anyway, then maybe I have been too hard on myself all this time...

With my classmate, the conversation went in a different direction. He said if you have bad feelings but good actions, then you're twice as good, because you're having to go against your feelings to act good, and that requires a lot more effort than to just be good cause you feel it that way. He separated the whole process in three (as opposed to my simplistic two) stances: desire, intention, and result. Where the nature of the desire does not make someone completely good or completely bad, as that part of the process is beyond our control. The result also shouldn't determine a person's goodness, because, again, results are unpredictable and uncontrollable, to some degree. It is the intention that makes you good or bad. To put this into perspective, I'll just use the example he used: you can feel envy because someone else is doing better than you in school, but you don't intend to hurt that person, because you are actually good and you don't really want to act on your envy, then comes the action, you recommend a book for them to study from (in good heart) and it turns out that confuses them more and they fail the test. Are you a bad person for feeling the envy? Are you a good person for actually recommending a book you thought would help them? Or are you a bad person because the book turned out to hurt them? Well... It is clear to me that he made an excellent point, and that, as well as everything I later discussed with my husband, made me rethink the entire concept I had, which was based solely on irrationalities (and by that, I mean religion).

Even with how much sense those arguments made in my head, I am still having a hard time breaking up with the idea that feelings are all that matters, I still have it deep within me that having bad feelings automatically makes you a bad person...

I was told by one of my religion teachers that the best time to die is either immediately after a confession or during prayer, because that is when all your bad feelings are forgiven by God and removed from your mind/soul. There are very few religious concepts that stuck with me from my school years, this was one of them.

I actually believe in the power of confession, I mean I think confession is a very cool concept, even without the God part.

In fact, I still practice confession to some degree. Even though I haven't done it with a priest since I was about eleven years old, I confess whenever I have bad feelings, generally it is to my husband, sometimes it is just to myself, in the form of writing.

By confessing I feel I get all my bad feelings out of my mind, and I can go back to a clean start. There's no absolution needed, though, because I don't believe in sin, and I don't believe in the religious power of priests; but there is the forgiveness. When I confess, I find it much easier to see that my bad feelings were not so bad to begin with, and to forgive myself for feeling them at all...

So, I guess the point of this entry is, after talking to people who showed me different insight in the matter, I have realized just how influenced by religion I have been regarding the "good vs evil" concept, and just how irrational and hard on people it is for anyone to believe that bad feelings are all it takes to makes us bad, considering it is virtually impossible to always have good feelings about everyone; after all, there's always someone who brings out the worst in us.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The road to Heaven is paved with lies...

Just how much truth is too much truth?

After watching last Monday's House MD episode, "The Social Contract", I got to thinking about life and truth and lies and social contracts...

I'm not going to spoil the episode (I'm only going to suggest people to watch it), but I am going to try to come up with an answer to the eternal question: just how honest is too honest?

I consider myself an honest person, as honest as one can be, actually. 

For one, I don't out right lie, I don't say I think your shoes are pretty if I think they're ugly, maybe, though I could think they're pretty one day, and a year later I could change my mind and think they're rather ugly, can't say it hasn't happened, but that's changing my opinions, evolving, growing, if I were consistent throughout my entire life, there would be no growth and that is actually quite a depressing thought.

But as far as honesty goes, as far as saying everything that is in your head, I just don't think that's possible, I don't think society is ready for that yet. I sure do it with my husband (in fact, I fell in love with him because he not only put up with my brutal honesty, but he was also very appreciative of it), but it seems like the more you are open about your feelings, the more people are likely to shut you down and consider you someone they do not want to be around.

The question is, though, how much of that 'not saying what's in your mind' is actually lying, and how much of it is just part of the social contract?

See, I think you're lying if you say something you know isn't true, but sometimes, the social contract forces you to shut up about things that are actually true. Is hiding the truth a form of lying? Not at all. Sometimes you just shouldn't tell your wife you think she's not the brightest bulb in the box, or sometimes you shouldn't tell your daughter that you think she's less smart than average (I know I said I wouldn't spoil it, and I hope that's not more than you were willing to know about the episode), and maybe you do think it, but you're not saying it, because you know it isn't correct, because you know nothing good will come out of it. But which is it that makes you a horrible person: feeling it or acting up on it? 

Well, a part of me wants to believe there are no bad people, but that just ain't so, so let's just go on the basis that some people are good people, and some people, well, they're not.

There's someone who repeatedly tells me "Everybody has had bad feelings, that doesn't make them a bad person", well, really? Are we not bad people if we have bad feelings? Are we better people if we do

 feel those things, but just censor them, just keep them in deep enough that they don't come out and make us act on them? I don't think so.

I think what makes you a good person is not whether you say those things or not, it's whether you feel them or not. What comes out of your mouth is completely irrelevant compared to what is in your heart. 

What's the use in doing good actions, if they're based off of bad feelings? What's good about a person who feels envy, desires revenge, wishes bad onto others, but then doesn't do anything that will reveal they feel that way? Would they be good just cause they're good at hiding just how bad they really are?

No, in my opinion, you're good if you're good inside, and you're bad if you're bad inside. It's easy as math. Sometimes good intentions hurt others, sometimes good feelings have bad consequences, that doesn't make a good person bad, so why should it go the other way around? 

I know we have no way of knowing other people's feelings, all we can base ourselves on is their actions, but actions are controlled by the mind, feelings are not. Actions can be dishonest, feelings can't. So the answer to my question about whether it is feeling a certain way or saying it that makes you a bad person is a very easy one: with or without the social contract, with or without the control of our mind over our words, we can be good or we can be bad, so why bother shutting up?

Society forces people to censor themselves. Would the world be better if we all had frontal lobe damage? Yes, I absolutely believe it would be better, so let's all grab hammers and start banging each other in the forehead with them...