Most people have heard the term “pedophilia,” but few people know what it actually means. What about hebephilia? What about eppebophilia? Is it ever okay for an adult to have sex with a minor? How do we go about setting reasonable age of consent laws? All of this and more is in this episode!
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Not long ago I came across a picture with a quote on it that stopped me cold.
In case you can’t read the picture, it says:
“You,” he said, “are a terribly real thing in a terribly false world, and that, I believe, is why you are in so much pain.”
In fact, even reading it now, knowing exactly what it says, makes my breath stop in my throat and makes me feel like I’ve been hit in the stomach. I can’t look at it for very long without feeling shaken by it. It’s really having an impact on me.
When I first saw it, I was too taken off guard to know what to think about it. But I knew that I had to know. I knew that there was something desperately true here. Something that I needed to know and had overlooked or ignored. As I thought about it, I realized that the thing I had ignored (well, not exactly ignored, but, perhaps, overlooked), was the idea of authenticity. The world is full of people living lives they don’t like, acting as people who they really aren’t, and who are giving up their lives in myriad ways that they don’t even realize. They’re doing it to “conform” or to “not rock the boat” or to “be part of the team” or because it is what’s expected of them by others. They never ask what they really want out of life. They simply go through the motions of living without ever really doing it.
This is why that quote struck me so deeply, because I feel like I am a real person in a world that is constantly struggling not to be real. A world that has become viciously inauthentic. A world that no longer works for anyone in it. And we all recognize this. We all recognize that women who have children face systemic challenges, yet none of us would want our own mother to suffer. We recognize that many jobs pay workers the bare minimum they can afford to get away with, even when the position warrants more, as though labor were merely a cost and not also what constitutes a company, not truly the soul of the company.
We deny our humanity and the very facts that keep us alive. We hide ourselves from knowledge and ideas that challenge us. For example: although children are sexual, we try to deny this and viciously shame them for it. Although meat is just dead animals, we don’t countenance our food looking anything like animals. Our meat must look like meat, and certainly not like the flesh of animals. We erect walls around ourselves in order not to feel vulnerable, but we shut ourselves away from feeling any of the good feelings as well. We construct desperate walls of unwanted isolation around ourselves. We want to feel connected and be loved and have friends, but we can’t imagine showing our true selves to these people, we thus create fictions of ourselves and base our friendships on this emptiness.
A large part of this inauthenticity that is making the world bad happens because people are afraid to die. Sadly, they feel that if they never quite live, then this will somehow prevent their ultimate death…somehow. The world is bad because people make the world worse through their actions and inactions. From not respecting other people’s rights and property (theft, graffiti), to outright trying to get others to live for them: those who feel entitled to a life they haven’t earned.
The world is not yet lost. In fact, even if it were, as long as life remains, we can always begin again. But how? We must be purposeful in our commitments. We must not just accept our humanity, but embrace it. Even the parts we wish were different. Students of ancient philosophy have probably heard this story, but most people have not. A student of Heraclitus’ went to his house to learn from him, since he was one of the greatest philosopher’s of his time. The student goes in and finds Heraclitus taking a shit. The student is stunned and tries to apologize and leave. Heraclitus stops him and tells him “there are gods here too.” Heraclitus meant that all aspects of our humanity are good. That there is something magical about being able to take in food, to live off it, and then get rid of the parts we don’t want. Heraclitus meant that life itself is the divine in the world and pooping is an important part of life.
We must also embrace death as that great gift that gives our lives meaning. An immortal life necessarily loses all meaning. If we cannot die, then we cannot truly live. Without death, there is not ultimate answer to “why?” Why are you going to work? Because I need money. Why do you need money? To eat. Why do you need to eat? To live. Without life, there could be no meaning for any action. Without death, a meaningful life is impossible. Without death, life loses all meaning.
I guess, at the end of this, I want people to wake up and engage with their lives. I want you to really live for a change. Show your real self to people. If they hate it, find better people. Don’t let your life slip away from you. It’s the only one you have. This reminds me of one of the most powerful quotes I’ve ever read, which is from Ayn Rand:
“Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark in the hopeless swamps of the not-quite, not-yet, and the not-at-all. Do not let the hero in your soul perish in the lonely frustration for the life you deserved and have never been able to reach. The world you desire can be won. It exists…it is real…it is possible…it is yours.”
Even if you haven’t been living authentically, it’s not too late. Make the choice to take control of your life. It’s the only one you get, you might as well make it awesome.