Jason Porath

has a website, i guess

Date: October 17, 2005


I don’t like my last entry. Instead of editing or deleting it, I’ll tell you why.

– It’s self-congratulating, arrogant, and hypocritical.
– It could easily be construed as an attack at many around me.
– It doesn’t get to the heart of what I wanted to talk about.

Why write it? To set down roots. Establish footing. Define me. But instead of defining who I am, I am defining who I am not. Show my virtues by showing others’ vices. It’s easier to destroy than create. But why do something easy when you can do something hard?

So, apologies.

The last part denotes a minor mania of mine. Victimhood. This miniscule madness stems from my childhood. I attended a very Jewish school. How Jewish? If you didn’t wear a yarmulke, you were counted as absent. Every morning, we sang the Pledge of Allegiance, followed by Israel’s natural anthem, the Hatikvah. In Hebrew. For homework in fifth grade, I had to draw a political cartoon of Saddam Hussein. Instead of dioramas, I created models of the Ark of the Covenant and Noah’s Ark. We addressed our teachers as “Mora” — hebrew for “teacher.” Pretty Jewish.

Several of my teachers, who are fortunately long gone from that school, felt it appropriate to fill my head with a xenophobia and fear I came to associate with Judaism. The Germans hate us and want to kill us. The Egyptians hate us and want to kill us. The Ancient Greeks hate us and want to kill us. The Syrians hate us and want to kill us. The Iraqis hate us and want to kill us. So on and so forth. Libyans, Saudis, Klansmen, some Christians, the list went on. They taught me about Amalek, an ancient tribe that hated the tribes of Israel, and sought to kill us. All of Judaism’s greatest enemies — Haman, the Pharaoh, even Hitler and Saddam — were Amalek. We are the eternal victims of the world. But we have an ace in the hole. We are the chosen people, and we will prevail, for god is on our side.

This education was atypical, I’ve found.

I grew uneasy with this victimhood because of mental illness. Since we never did anything wrong, merely were unwitting victims of unfortunate circumstance, we could not possibly have been irresponsible, careless, or trying. Not us. The disorder did it. The imbalance. The behavior. Those pesky gremlins. Probably set upon us by Amalek. Through the years, I saw those around me grow more and more distant from responsibility and reality, seeing flaws only in others, a long string of you-a-culpas.

Out of this grew most of the difficulties and heartache that marked my childhood. This attitude lathered more hurt on me and mine than any combination of disorders, imbalances, and behaviors before or since.

Modern day. I’m more than willing to accept responsibility. I live for it. I avoid relationships where one person has the upper hand over another, even if that person is me. I let things slide off me. I don’t take offense. I am a teflon man. I will not be a victim, and I will not be a victimizer.

Contrary to convention and wisdom

Just fall asleep but make sure you’re always frowning
It shows the world you’ve got substance and depth
You know that life is an impossible scheme
And love an imperceptible dream

-Pet Shop Boys, Miserabalism

I take the stairs when there’s an escalator. Order in person instead of on the phone. Abstain from medicine when I’ve got the flu. Walk when I could drive. Stand when I could sit. I do these things because they are hard. Sanitizing your life destroys your immune system.

This contrarian self has made an optimist of me. I’m sunny merely by the ease of turning cloudy. I have become the albino panda, the animal nearly hunted to extinction by the weight of the world. Scars, rage, regrets, laments, guilt, jealousy, losses, they are all of them albatrosses, and I will not have them ring my neck. These are flighty things. I keep them alive with me for a time, and let them go when it is their time. I will not let tragedy write my dictionary entry. I will not let the footnote read “See: Victim“.

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