Poking Beehives

“I yam what I yam and tha’s all what I yam.”
~ Popeye the Sailor Man

There are two sides of my personality. Let me first put them into political terms, just for the fun of it.

One aspect is what I call my pansy liberalism. It can be quite radical even. I have been called a classical liberal because I take Enlightenment values seriously, but this gets filtered through an alternative hippy mentality.

This because I was raised in pansy liberal Unity Church (New Thought “Positive Thinking” Christianity). And in the formative years of young adulthood, I used to live with a bunch of Deadheads and potheads. I’ve been in drum circles and Hare Krishna chanting circles. I’ve been in anti-war protests and seen hippy chicks dance half naked around a bonfire.

I genuinely believe in compassion and understanding, of freedom and equality. It’s my naive utopian fantasy that win/win scenarios are actually possible and should be more common. I have a faith that humans are fundamentally good and that human potential is vast. So, why can’t we all just get along?

The other aspect is my politically incorrect libertarianism. It is mostly an impulse for freedom of thought and action, but it can be ornery and antagonistic at times. It can lead to skepticism and agnosticism or else curiosity and wonder.

I don’t want to be told what to do, what to say and not to say. Sometimes the more I’m told what not to do the more I want to do it. Get me curious about something and there is no holding me back.

This is my my hardcore intellectuality. This is a different offshoot of classical liberalism. Part of me wants to put truth before all else, even before compassion and sympathy. I see humans as having the capacity for reason, and I’m committed to demanding it of myself as much as of others. More fundamentally, it is just an urge to understand, to question and contemplate, to make sense of a crazy world.

My pansy liberalism is the sensitive side of my personality. I was a quiet child who easily had my feelings hurt. I spent a lot of time alone, but would enjoy the company of a close friend or the family cat.

I loved being outdoors. Nature was a refuge, an escape from responsibilities and the authorities that demanded that I be responsible. In nature, there were no parents or teachers. I quickly learned that animals, plants, and trees didn’t judge. A wooded lot hid me from the larger society of people, including most other kids.

On the other side, I was just plain curious about the world around me. I was always exploring the woods and wandering down creeks. This would cause me to poke sticks down holes, to climb trees, to turn over rock after rock just to see what was underneath.

I was a dirty, scabby little boy. And I loved picking at my scabs, maybe for the same reason I loved turning over rocks. I couldn’t leave things alone. This is why, when my mom warned me not to put anything into outlets, I soon after shoved a paperclip into an outlet. Live and learn. Experience always makes for the best lessons. Otherwise, how do you know what people say is true? And besides, how are you supposed to have fun when you always follow the rules?

I wasn’t a rebellious brat or troublemaker. I just felt compelled to do my own thing in my own way. I didn’t want to stand out and I didn’t want to get in trouble, but the way my mind operated didn’t always perfectly conform to the world of either adults or peers.

All of this is my personality. It wasn’t a choice I made at some point. As long as I can remember, I’ve always been this way. My politics naturally flows from my inherent sensibilities and tendencies. I don’t know why I’m like this, but I’ve come to accept it as best I can.

Still, it makes relationships challenging for me at times. I feel a desire to poke at things. My mind won’t stop running and my curiosity is never sated. I know that this annoys some people. I don’t always play well with others. I end up questioning everything and I don’t always heed intellectual caution. If someone reacts strangely or vehemently, my interest increases a thousand fold. If someone tells me to shut up, it gets my hackles up and I’m even less likely to do as told.

I have a talent for irritating people across the political spectrum, including friends and family. If I haven’t irritated you yet, then we must not have known each other long enough. Just give it time and I’ll find a way to provoke you and be provoked by you.

I think too much, I talk too much, I write too much, I question too much. I rarely can leave well enough alone, even though I don’t want to be mean or annoying. Too often I end up apologizing for aggravating conflict and getting myself into misunderstandings, but at least I usually apologize. I mean well, and I hope that counts for something.

I like to poke at beehives. Sometimes I find honey and sometimes I get stung. It’s the nature of bees to sting, just as it is my nature to poke.

4 thoughts on “Poking Beehives

  1. I am suppose I am a severe and wry communitarian. Elitists, profound of both traditional culture and the counter-culture, severe, cold in my political judgements. I can respect “pansy liberals” and they seem to respect me more than you would expect since I can be so unforgiving and illiberal in my approach politics. I suppose I am kind of a cultural conservative in that I think medieval and early modern culture was deeply flawed, but should not be washed away by the flippancy of modern capitalism. I do more than irritate people across the political spectrum, I tend to infuriate them.

    • Of people I’ve met online, I get along with you better than the vast majority. There is something about your worldview that resonates with me.

      I sense a fundamental honesty and forthrightness in how you express yourself, which appeals to both sides of my personality in different ways. Even when you strongly disagree with me, I like the way you disagree.

      There is also something that seems like an easygoing tolerance. Your interviews demonstrate your willingness to dialogue with a diversity of perspectives.

      It’s hard for me to imagine why you would infuriate some people. You are surprisingly patient in your interactions, relative to most of what I come across online. The internet doesn’t tend to encourage a patient attitude.

  2. I’ve started embracing the label “pansy liberal”. My sense of liberalism is such a part of my life-long experience and sense of identity at this point. But I won’t argue about what mainstream liberalism.

    So, I’ll just call myself a pansy liberal and leave it at that. I can’t help but be who I am. It won’t stop me from criticizing liberalism sometimes, including my own liberalism. But it is what it is.

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