Here’s my latest struggle:
How to reach ‘Meh’ in a world full of cheaters?
There are so many cheaters everywhere, it’s too much! People I looked up to? Turns out they were cheaters. I get triggered whenever I hear of a new one.
My mom has always loved Liz Claiborne (not knowing her real story, of course). I have fond memories of my mom wearing the clothes and perfume. Now? It makes me want to choke. I don’t even have the heart to tell my mom the true story of LC because she would be so disappointed and probably throw all that stuff away, and that includes a *lifetime* of LC clothing, and some of her nicer outfits.
Some of my own relatives? Turn out they were cheaters. Musicians, artists, actors, writers, historical figures. The list goes on and on. Politicians. Government officials. And not just cheating sex-wise — money cheating, lies by omission, etc.
What troubles me is that these people are not the exceptions. They aren’t rare. There are a lot of them. It’s hard to live life without supporting cheaters, directly or by accident. I want to rip out history books. I want to not buy products from known cheaters. I want to scream at the top of my lungs that so many of these people that we look up to today are self-serving narcs who did really bad things that hurt people.
What’s a good way to deal with all this? How can us chumps live authentically without supporting these cheater’s empires (as succinctly stated by MovingOn)? Because I can’t seem to hear Johnny Cash without rolling my eyes. And I can’t seem to watch a damned Brad Pitt movie without thinking of how he lost all his hotness points when he screwed over Jennifer Aniston.
You only have to divorce one person — your cheater. You don’t have to divorce Johnny Cash. My cheating ex was a patent attorney. I’m sure he was a perfectly adequate, maybe even passably decent patent attorney. There was nothing about his wandering dick that didn’t make him unable to comprehend nanotechnology or metal alloys and the U.S. patent system. My advice to the world is — DO NOT DATE THIS MAN. Hire him as a patent attorney? Sure. Okay. Whatever.
As much as I wish it weren’t so, to rise to the top of most fields, a lot of those people tend to be narcissistic. Or, in many cases, flaming caldrons of dysfunction. (My husband calls this the Asshole Theory of Greatness.) It’s up to you to decide how much of their crazy you want to boycott. Aretha Franklin allegedly doesn’t pay her taxes. I LOVE Aretha Franklin. I’m sorry, but her problems with the IRS do not eclipse her genius.
One important caveat here — the majority of narcissists are NOT great. They just think they are. Their last claim to fame was their 1983 SAT scores. They have a shit load of entitlement and grandiosity that has no correlation to any actual accomplishment or giftedness. Please note that the singer songwriter boyfriend living in your basement is probably NOT going to grow up to be Johnny Cash.
That said, some narcissist cheaters actually have real talent. Bill Clinton was a gifted politician. Johnny Cash made wonderful music. Liz Claiborne made casual separates that appealed to middle America. Should we erase these people’s accomplishments and enjoyment from our lives because they were shits in their personal lives? That is something only you can decide for yourself. Personally, I’m never watching another Woody Allen movie ever again. Johnny Cash? Nope, my iPod playlists remain. You may decide differently.
In the 1980s, I lived in a Marxist group house in London. A bunch of middle-class university student Marxists. We had one actual working-class member of our collective — an electrician/art student from Newcastle. He used to come home drunk from the pub and pick fights with the earnest Marxists. He’d shout: “IT’S OKAY IF YOU WANT TO SAVE THE FUCKING NAMIBIANS! SO’S LONG AS YA GET A DECENT WAGE!”
Anyway, the Marxists (and myself, a watered down lefty of muddled politics) would boycott every food stuff. We couldn’t eat eggs (I forgot why), we couldn’t eat Chilean grapes, no fruit from South Africa. It got to the point that the only thing permissible to eat was lentils, and I think even those were suspect.
My point is — choose your battles. It’s an imperfect world out there and if you boycott too many things on principle you might find yourself down to lentils of dubious provence.
Cheaters suck. I totally understand the urge to unmask them all and demand justice. And yet, we still need people to run government, we still need tortured artists to make music, and we probably still need patent attorneys, although if you want to expunge a group, let’s start with them.
You don’t have to be the world’s cheater police. You just have to police your own turf — don’t date them and don’t marry them. If you want to boycott certain people on principle that is absolutely your right. But don’t feel guilty if you still enjoy the music of Johnny Cash, or the writings of Thomas Jefferson, or Aretha Franklin’s voice and her unpaid taxes. It’s an imperfect world. You can acknowledge these people’s contributions with eye’s wide open about their faults. It’s your judgment call if those faults eclipse their accomplishments.