Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Hell Of Self-Awareness

Leftist religionists like yours truly tend to place near-exclusive emphasis on God's Love, leaving the image of a judgey God to our fundamentalist cousins.

Well, this is why I believe in God's judgment.

In brief: cute little gay kid loves Lady Gaga, has posse of girl buddies, makes It Gets Better video, continues to be horribly bullied, takes own life. On the day of his wake, big sister attends school dance with her friends and his; when a Lady Gaga song is played, they start to cheer and chant his name – whereupon the bullies shout in response that they're glad he's dead.

People do evil stuff. People do evil stuff, and, so far from regretting it, they do more evil stuff. That can't be the end of the story.

If hell exists, it's self-awareness. It's having the conscience, maturity, and self-reflectiveness to comprehend just what a piece of shit you are. It's losing sleep to the roiling in your gut as you remember the time fifteen years ago when somebody made fun of the fat kid and you laughed. It's the agonizing remembrance of every cruel or thoughtless thing you ever said, knowing bone-deep how much it hurt the other person.

If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.

It might happen when they grow up a little, or it might not happen in this lifetime; but one day the children who hounded and persecuted little Jamey Rodemeyer to death and beyond it will know what it feels like to truly love and truly be loved. When they do, the full magnitude of the evil they have done will hit them like burning coals on their heads. They will know themselves, and they will be in hell.

God's justice is God's love. God's love is the very judgment that sends evildoers to the hell of self-awareness.

This hell is a necessary step on the road to redemption. No matter what you've done, there is no true redemption without experiencing the hell of self-awareness. For their own sakes, I want Jamey Rodemeyer's tormentors to know hell.


  1. In one of MY universes, people who disrespect the dead run the risk of being eaten by zombies. (Though only angry spirits who really *want* to animate a zombie for revenge actually ever do). An odd thing: Right before I'd heard this story, I’d just finished and posted a story to my blog dealing specifically with the theme of suicide. I wrote it to deal with my own feelings on the issue – and it was written while undergoing a depression downswing.

    I’d read of this story on John Shore’s blog. A lot of comments on the blog, ones given by conservative Christians visiting there to stand up for the old dogmas caused self-realization out the wazoo for me. A lot of them didn’t strike me as trollish or intentionally cruel so much as people really thinking along these lines and not even understanding how hurtful the things they said were. I know because seeing their posts was like looking into an Internet time-portal at a younger, more ignorant me. I mean, the things they were saying had me thinking “That’s very rude, very inconsiderate, fuzzy logic… I used to say stuff like that and, back then, I thought I was being perfectly reasonable.” I felt like I didn’t have scales over my eyes anymore.

    I think, also, according to you, I’m in an almost perpetual self-inflicted Hell here in life. I once asked someone “Do you ever, out of the blue, just suddenly remember something stupid or cruel or embarrassing you did that happened years ago that you haven’t thought about in years and suddenly feel shame for it? Because that happens to me all the time.” He told me it was normal… I’m not sure my level of it is. People tell me I’m an expert at beating myself up. All a person can really do is keep moving forward and try to do better. I don’t think any of us humans have any idea how much we hurt each other without even trying.

    And those who delight in it, well… they’re the reason I like to do catharsis by writing stories where things eat people like that.

  2. "People tell me I'm an expert at beating myself up."

    An earlier draft of this post mentioned the fact that I deal with the hell of self-awareness by vividly imagining myself getting punched in the face, like, multiple times a day... but I thought that might make people think I was a bit weird...

    RE: people not even understanding how hurtful the things they say are - that just baffles me. I've never considered myself overburdened with empathy, but even I know that most of what I do and say is probably hurtful to somebody somewhere. It doesn't take a vast imaginative leap, does it?

  3. Thank you, this is one of the best pieces I've seen written about this horrible and sad story.