My husband is absolutely obsessed with The Thomas Jefferson Hour — “Your Weekly Conversation with President Thomas Jefferson.” If listening to podcasts by a Jefferson re-enactor from North Dakota doesn’t solidify your nerd credentials, I don’t know what does.
We just got back from a road trip to New Orleans, which meant that Thomas Jefferson and I got very well acquainted over hours spent on I-10. (That’s about 16 Thomas Jefferson hours round-trip.) I learned that Thomas Jefferson had very strong opinions in favor of cold foot baths. (Try plunging your feet in ice water every morning. Jefferson claims it cures head colds.) Jefferson was consumed with gardening and hoped America would be a small nation-state of farmers. He took maniacally detailed records of everything, loving grids and charts. How else to measure progress and efficiency? He was socially awkward and didn’t enjoy small talk, unless you engaged his interest on some scientific matter. He wasn’t a fan of organized religion. In fact, he cut and paste the only “useful” bits he found in the bible and made his own “Jefferson Bible” for personal reference.
My biggest take away about Thomas Jefferson is that he was a creature of the Enlightenment. He believed in science, common sense, and Progress. Fuck superstition. (Okay, Jefferson didn’t say that, but I think he thought it.)
So what does any of this have to do with infidelity? Oh you know me, I can turn any subject into a discourse on infidelity. As I was listening to my umpteenth Thomas Jefferson hour, this quote jumped out at me.
“Every man’s own reason must be his oracle.”
Thomas Jefferson believed in scientific thought, drawing conclusions from that which you can measure. He believed everyone could work their problems if they would only apply reason. There is no “oracle” — some superstitious font of authority telling you what to do — there is only common sense. The only oracle is REASON. Can you see it? Can you measure it? Can you measure it over time? What sort of pattern is there? What is demonstrable? What can we conclude from the evidence?
It was rather an a-HA moment for me. Thomas Jefferson doesn’t smoke hopium. He very clearly articulated exactly what my problems are with the Reconciliation Industrial Complex. It’s voodoo, based on mysterious forces you cannot see, versus that which is demonstrable and measured — like actions and recompense.
How many of us tie ourselves in knots after D-Day looking for remorse that doesn’t exist?
Why doesn’t it exist?
RIC would like you to believe that remorse is in a “fog.” Because of deep, subterranean FOO issues like “toxic shame” it is hiding right now. It might come out if conditions are favorable. Perhaps you could make those conditions favorable by burning a sacrifice or wearing this magic amulet — by which I mean do a pick me dance, or change yourself in some way to effect an outcome you don’t control.
Um… it’s not working? YOU’RE NOT BEING PATIENT WITH THE GREAT AND POWERFUL RIC! RIC is the oracle! Believe it because we said so. We have Ph.D.s and comfortable sofas in our lounges. We bill $180 an hour. You would dare QUESTION?
I believe Thomas Jefferson would look at that mess and say simply “Remorse doesn’t exist because I can’t see it. If I cannot measure your ledgers — how much recompense you’ve made for monies spent on an affair, a viable post-nup, and demonstrable promises kept — I cannot credit this ‘remorse’.”
“Every man’s own reason must be his oracle.”
The problem with so much reconciliation literature is that it asks you to doubt your reason. Believe that this person loved you while doing unloving things. Believe that they will eventually stop doing unloving things if you just conduct yourself accordingly.
The problem with cheaters is that they require you to doubt your reason. Pay no attention to the cell phone bill. Yes, okay I was at that hotel but we didn’t have sex. He’s just a friend. You’re crazy.
If we simply applied reason and look dispassionately at our circumstances, I believe we would draw conclusions for a course of action (however painful) much sooner.
There is no sign of remorse because this person doesn’t feel remorseful.
This person could not betray me and love me at the same time. Those things are incompatible.
They do not (go to therapy, read the books, apologize to our children, sign a post-nup, break up with the affair partners) because they don’t want to. Period.
Happy Independence Day, chumps! Let reason be your oracle.