It was during a conversation with comrades in Tanzania in December that one of them said something that perked my interest. They mentioned that Western holidays, like Valentines Day, are now regularly consumed by people in Tanzania and throughout Africa. Of course, we all know that the capitalist system's advocacy of every holiday it promotes is motivated by a profit motive. So the fact they have discovered that there are further markets to exploit in Africa isn't any big surprise. What it did make me think of was how much dysfunction we suffer from as a result of the onslaught of money grubbing propaganda. Think about it. Here is a day where you are supposed to have someone you are romantically involved with. Someone you should demonstrate your commitment to through spending money - whether you can afford to or not is immaterial - to cement your relationship to this person. And, it doesn't matter one bit whether you and your person have an understanding as it relates to not spending money on this day, the pressure from the capitalist system is so intense, if you cannot afford to buy something, you still feel inadequate. This is true because everything within capitalism is based upon personal competition. Upon devaluing us as individuals in order to reduce us down to consumer commodities. As a result, you can have that principled understanding with your partner, but then all the people next to them at work got something today. Or, even if only one person got something, it was something. And even if you don't see what that person next to your person got. Even if you wouldn't even know what that person who got something looked like if they walked up to you and slugged you in the jaw. Even if none of your partner's co-workers actually got anything Even if you don't even have anyone to buy something for, you still feel that little pang. That little jab that's telling you that you couldn't deliver. Another shot at diminishing your self being courtesy of the capitalist system which depends upon that little taste of insecurity to drive its profits every day.
And, all of that trauma only scratches the service. There are millions of people who struggle on days like today because there is such a systemic apparatus working within the capitalist system that has successfully trained us that we are not worthy as human beings. That something is inherently wrong with us. That something is always wrong with us and it will always be wrong with us. Consequently, the reason why we haven't been able to find that special person, and keep them, is because of these undeniable and non-negotiable flaws. And this negative propaganda infects pretty much all of us. No matter what. You can be a genius. You can look like a movie star. You still are held hostage to that voice inside of you telling you that you are a failure. And that voice has a strong life expectancy and its always working. All the time. I know because like most of you, I've battled that voice my entire life. Young women made fun of me when I was in high school. I mean, openly laughing in my face when I asked them out. And, laughing not just when I asked, but weeks afterward, whenever they saw me. They used to mobilize on the steps at my high school to laugh at me as I walked by. Looking back, I can't even blame them. I was skinny as a rail with huge, thick eye glasses, terrible skin, especially my facial area, and a head full of nappy hair long before anyone was celebrating it, at least where I could hear them.
There was much more than just the physical stuff. A reoccurring message that I had no value. That message was orchestrated and articulated with such consistency by everyone from my parents to my teachers, etc., that I had to believe it was true. And, I've spent my entire life fighting against that dysfunction. I've done enough work around it that I now know why my parents said and did what they did. And I don't blame them at all. In fact, I miss them terribly. So, a day like today has never been a friend to me. It wasn't a friend when I had someone in my life, and it isn't a friend now.
Finally, there's all the bourgeois confusion that interferes with us learning how to be comfortable with ourselves. Confident in ourselves, so that we can overcome all of the previously mentioned trauma. By bourgeois confusion I mean the way we are trained to search for companionship. The process where we attempt to hide our insecurities and uncertainty about ourselves (remember, we are taught to believe something is inherently wrong with us) by carefully and consistently building a wall up around us that prevents you from seeing the real us. The afraid us. The part of us that is totally buying the facade you have perfected in front of us that makes us believe you are perfect so therefore there is really no way you would ever want to have anything to do with someone as flawed as me. We spend so much time in our lives developing these fake acting skills that most of us never learn how to become comfortable with the flawed selves that we are and as a result, we never find that person who is ready to face reality with us, thus creating a genuine intimacy and partnership that ironically, we spend our entire lives desperately looking for, and most often never finding. All of this is bourgeois because the definition of bourgeois class values are believing in class interests that are based in idealism (the facade) that go firmly against what's best for us.
Valentines Day is problematic not because there is anything wrong with people expressing their love towards one another. The problem is the platform from which this is messaged is one from which perfection is assumed. And since our lives are anything except perfection, the fact many of us don't have that perfect mate - we have a highly imperfect situation, maybe even a dysfunctional one, or no situation at all - reinforces that loneliness for us on a day like today.
I'm going to fight my battle against all of that dysfunction and I encourage you to do the same. Its ok to maintain your fantasy person that will one day sweep you off your feet. I want to be able to do that. My person often comes in many different physical forms, but she's always ready to bring the values into my life that I've long wanted. A genuine interest in me as a human being. An interest in me. Something that I feel has escaped me my entire life. My person won't see me as a puzzle piece e.g. the person with the looks, build, maybe even some personality traits, that they admire, without taking in and valuing the person I am in its entirety. And, I fully realize that I've missed a lot of great values in people over the years because of my dysfunctional issues as well. Well, that battle I'm waging today is centered around committing to continue working on myself to push myself outside of whatever I think is comfortable for me. Pushing me to question everything I'm doing, which I've actually gotten quite good at, and demanding more of myself. Like I have made a commitment to think through everything I say I want in someone with a counter of what I will offer them. And, I want to hold myself accountable to doing that. Also, since I know I can't battle this on an individual level, I pledge to myself to try and bring these issues into my patriarchy groups with other men folks. To continue to write about it as I'm doing now and to use all of that to continue to push myself and everyone around me. The pushing piece is essential because this is such a backward society, anytime we are defending questionable values, its a pretty strong bet we are perpetuating the values of the enemies of humanity. So, push, push, push, yourselves beyond what you think you believe in. I'm certainly doing my best to do that to myself. I question even my core beliefs daily. The one's that are questionable, I have no issues with confronting them and working to change. The one's I'm strong in I hold that way because I've thought of the counter arguments against them, and worked through them, before you even articulated your thoughts against the concepts to me.
By seeing Valentines Day as a day of reflection, it helps a lot. I still feel the loneliness many of you feel, but it does help. I don't know if I'll ever get to that fantasy place with that fantasy person, but the point is the more work I do, hopefully that will matter less and less. Hopefully, I'll get to a place where I appreciate the people I do have, more and more. And less and less of how I define myself and the people around me will be dictated by this money first system. I also encourage all of us to really focus on confronting that negative self talk that is telling all of us that something is wrong with us. That we are worthless. None of that is true. I don't care what you think you have done wrong or what you have actually done wrong. Its still not true because I know that despite whatever it is, I could not even know you and I could sit down with you and ascertain in a very short period of time the logical reasons why you did whatever you did. There are reasons and none of them are based in what's wrong with you. Its based in what's wrong with this backward system. And, I know we can't change the system, or ourselves, without working to change all of it, us and the system, at the same thing. So, let's start working on that piece. That huge piece. One thing for sure. The day we start making that type of progress will be a real day worth celebrating and doing some won't cost us any money.