Prague Twin

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Prague Twin

Some of you have wondered what the hell Prague Twin means. I had meant to explain much earlier in this whole blogging process but have never found the courage to explain. Now that I'm a year into blogging, I figure I just have to give it a shot. Disclaimer: I'll really only be able to scratch the surface of what I'm trying to say as this is quite an elusive concept.

Ever since I was little, I have felt as though there are two people living inside my head. I know it sounds crazy, and maybe it is, but crazy people don't spend time wondering if they are crazy, so I figure I must be okay. Also, from what I have been reading about the brain lately, this doesn't seem out of the ordinary at all. If you consider Jung's principle of the shadow for a moment, you might know what I mean. I think the difference for me is that instead of having one conscious side, and one unconscious, I'm keenly aware of both sides of my personality. It is only in the last few years that I am starting to come to terms with it.

Ok, let me see if I can come up with some concrete examples. I remember when I was about 5 years old, I was thinking about crossing the sidewalk. I hesitated just for a second and then realized that I would have to convince myself to actually do it. I realized that the part of my personality that hesitated could completely freeze me and this terrified me and I stood frozen for about a minute. Finally, the part of me that wanted to cross the sidewalk took control and across I went. What a relief!

It was at this point that I realized there was more to me than just me. There were competing forces in my head that I would have to deal with. Everything I do involves some negotiation, yet there are times when one side takes charge, and the other takes a back seat throwing in disgruntled comment here and there.

One side of my personality is confrontational, mean, violent, and unsympathetic to others. I have learned over time to reel this side in as much as possible, and channel that energy into things like sports and talking politics with people I disagree with. However, from time to time, I lose complete control of this guy, and all hell breaks loose. My terrible-twos were terrible indeed. I've been in plenty of fist-fights and I've ended some with acts of brutality that are indeed shocking.

However, I've also been known to be quite generous and sympathetic. I'm the type of friend that you can call when your car breaks down, or at 3 in the morning because you just need to talk. I'm very protective of my friends and family. If you harm my friends or family, I'll let the other guy loose on you.

This is the simplest way that I can describe the two basic parts of my personality. I think that everyone has them, but usually one is more dominant than the other. I seem to be stuck somewhere in the middle, oscillating between best-friend and worst enenmy on a daily basis.

The reason I named my blog after these twins is that these two sides battle in my politics as well, leaving me for the most part completely confused.

WAR

I was brought up to believe in peace. My parents were hippies actually. I participated in anti-nuclear activism as a child. However, like most boys, I was facinated with war. I decided at an early age I would defend my country from invation, but I wouldn't go off and fight abroad. So when Gulf war one came up, although I had no intention of participating, I found myself wanting to see things blown up. CNN coverage was fantastic, and I was glued to the screen. Yet I knew in my heart that this was wrong: this was the violent side of me getting satisfaction from the visceral thrill of the violence. I remember seeing a truck absolutely covered in flags around the time of the invation and something just clicked: people liked war. It was fun for some. That nationalistic pride that wells up in your chest when you think about the greatness of America (or any other country) is the same feeling that I get just before I punch some asshole in the face that desperately deserves it. Nationalism is pride, ego, aggresiveness, and latent violence all wrapped together.... and it is wrong. But I understand.

After the horrors of what happened in Iraq the first time around became apparent, after I saw the pictures of the charred families, and the people washing thier clothes in the sewage-laden water, after the scale of human suffering became evident, I became distraught. On the one hand, I had wanted to see the distruction. I had never lived through a proper war (born in 1970) and I was fascinated by it and wanted to see it happen. The Iraqi's deserved it, I figured, so let's go! But once it was over, the sympathy that I normally have returned. I felt for the people who had been killed and injured and put myself into their position.

The conflict I felt within myself was immense and I vowed not to support war again unless it was absolutely necessary, and if it was, I would not get any pleasure from it. More or less I've been successful in keeping this vow, although I still love to watch things get blown up.... at least part of me does.

So all you peace-niks out there, I totally understand and I think you are right. All you hawks out there, I totally understand, but logic and decency tells me you are wrong.

ECONOMICS

Again, because of my upbringing, I have a keen awareness of the plight of the poor and disadvantaged. But I have never been a big fan of socialism for one basic reason: it isn't fair. I started working from a very early age and I saw that people generally got what they earned. Those who worked hard, made more money, and that seems like the most obvious thing in the world.

However, capitalism has it's downfalls as well. If we base everything on competition, that means that the disadvantaged will always be disadvantaged. Crazy people with no family walk the streets all over the United States, scavenging for food and barely surviving. I think this is dispicable and downright sad. Having said that, I don't understand why the government should give a penny to an able-bodied, able-minded person in the United States. I've had horrible, low-paying jobs that allowed me just to survive, but by that I mean having food, a car, and a place to live. Most people in the world have much less than that, so the complaints I hear from Americans about pay fall on deaf ears here.

But again, on the filp side, those who have the resources through family to go to school and get good jobs should bear a larger share of the burden to help the old, the sick, and the mentally challenged. To claim we don't have a responsibility to do this is anti-social at best. However, if someone breaks into my house and trys to steal from me, I'd shoot them dead and feel no remorse.

So where do I stand? I try to balance my sympathy for the truly needy, with my belief in competition and reward, and my utter hate and disgust for the leaches who steal and who milk the system just because they are lazy.

Essentially, I'm lost.

I could go on and on, but as I said, I was only going to scratch the surface. For every issue, I see both sides. On some, I see a third or fourth side that normal people say is completely nuts. But suffice to say, I continue to argue with myself about these things, as well as every other thing I do from brushing my teeth, to getting married. I may make the wrong decision, but I certainly have had a debate with myself about it before I reach a decision.

I try to be critical of everything, while still giving the things I don't believe in a chance. My goal is to understand people, even if I disagree with them. Once I truly understand myself, maybe that will be possible.










11 Comments:

  • I'm right there with ya, brother. I only wish I was as humble and honesty enough to say it as plainly as you have here.

    By Blogger Frederick, at 9:30 PM  

  • Thanks man,

    It wasn't easy.

    By Blogger Praguetwin, at 10:57 PM  

  • Doesn't sound crazy at all. In fact, crazy is when you don't have a yin to temper your yang, and vice versa -- for example, George Bush.

    By Anonymous abi, at 1:43 AM  

  • for the most part, I agree with you as well. Kudos for the personal post. I know those are hard to do

    By Blogger GraemeAnfinson, at 6:37 PM  

  • I can follow, though my experience is that if I leave a problem alone and let the other part of me deal with it the background, reasonable solutions are more forthcoming.
    So there is two or more parts, but obviously a dumb dominant personality.
    Interesting insights...

    By Blogger Cartledge, at 8:44 PM  

  • Interesting self-analysis. I think most people have these inner conflicts and contradictions. I know that when you get embroiled in politics it's easy to put everybody into a snug little category: liberal, conservative, wingnut, moonbat, whatever. But I think most people are too complex to fit into a simple category.

    By Anonymous Tom Harper, at 3:39 AM  

  • "...but crazy people don't spend time wondering if they are crazy, so I figure I must be okay."

    Well, I certainly don't think you're crazy. Then again, I talk out loud to myself. As long as I don't answer myself, I'm okay.
    ;-)

    As for myself, I try to stay away from the either/or, black/white, good/evil positions of opposition. It would be convenient if the world could be tucked so tidily into such compartments, but I've found that there are simply too many variables to make things so clean-cut.

    Why should it be pure Capitalism or pure Socialism? Both are human-derived concepts, wrought with imperfections and failures. Why should we limit ourselves to one or the other, when either way will fail us in the end? Whether it's war, economics, or medical practice (my current topic), without compassion it will fail. Without empathy of the other, you'll find yourself limited and empty. We can bleed the world of diversity of thought, belief and reason, but it will take blood. Why would we want to do that?

    Can you have war without hate? Obviously it can be done. Ever hear the story of WWII where regular soldiers would place soccer/football with individuals from opposing armies? Was that hate? They shared their different treats, and well-wishes, sang Christmas carols together. War doesn't have to be about hate, or simply about destruction.

    It doesn't have to be peace-niks vs. hawks, Capitalists vs. Socialists...there's middle ground to be found and utilized.

    I think we all have those selves that make life difficult; thankfully most of us do. If deciding between self-interest and compassion were easy, then I fear it would be self-interest that would win each and every time. Imagine the world of darkness we'd have then.

    By Blogger Stephanie, at 5:23 AM  

  • Abi,

    A little humility goes a long way.

    Greame,

    Indeed they are, but rewarding as well.

    Catledge,

    That could probably help. Kind of like when you see something best when you aren't actually looking directly at it. I don't think you are dumb.

    Tom,

    Subconsciously, I think that is one of the things I was getting at. We are complex creatures and rarely do we even know ourselves, much less others.

    By Blogger Praguetwin, at 2:07 PM  

  • Stephanie,

    Thanks for the thoughtful comment (and your own personal revelation). I just want to quote you here because you really hit the nail on the head...

    Why should it be pure Capitalism or pure Socialism? Both are human-derived concepts, wrought with imperfections and failures. Why should we limit ourselves to one or the other, when either way will fail us in the end?

    I couldn't have said it as well myself.

    By Blogger Praguetwin, at 2:09 PM  

  • Never give the monster 51%

    By Anonymous The Loop Garoo Kid, at 5:51 PM  

  • Hey Prague Twin, don't be so bilateral! Remember the diagram of Yin and Yang-each of those little "poly-wogs" have, at their core, a section of the opposite. When we try to make the world a bilateral place, a battleground for us vs. them, we deny those elements we share. Your shadow is so much less an enemy than an important part of you. But it sounds as if you have learned to live with it, and for that I applaud you. Keep looking for that third, fourth, and even fifth side to every argument. And be sure to keep enlightening us with your commentary. Candles in the dark are oh so welcome!

    By Blogger Misha Griffith, at 6:13 PM  

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