Imagine there’s a person you hate more than you hate any other human being; indeed, this may well be the only person you truly hate, more than Hitler or Stalin, more than Ted Bundy, more than your most loathed and offensive political antitheses.
This person’s every habit disgusts and repulses you. Their laughter is at best grating, and at worse rings false in your ears, less melodious than a braying donkey. Their wit is sophomoric, their wisdom trite clichés. Their physical presence is frankly appalling; they stink, their breath is nauseating, their hair and their body habitus are the quintessence of unattractiveness, their features are disturbingly asymmetric, their ears protrude oddly and unevenly, their nose is off-center, and their posture makes you feel uncomfortable. Even their flatulence is exceptionally rancid, as though some of their own internal organs have already begun to decay while they still live.
Lest we be mired in the superficial, it’s also clear that this person is horribly selfish, petty, irritable, judgmental, condescending—hateful and misanthropic, nihilistic, dismissive of all possible goodness. They wish foul and horrific vengeance upon even strangers who commit the most minor of offenses, and were they given power and impunity, they would no doubt leave much of the world a wasteland.
When you see others treat this person with courtesy, with kindness, and even at times with respect, you cannot comprehend how they could be so fully duped. Do they not realize what a Lovecraftian monstrosity it is with which they are interacting? Do they not recognize, at some level, how appalling and foul this person is? Don’t they know that the few seemingly kind, or mildly impressive, things that this person does are merely traps full of inevitable betrayal and disappointment? Don’t they realize that this person always fails those who rely upon him, always disappoints those who expect anything good from him. Can’t they see, just by looking, that he’s the living refutation of goodness itself, the very force of entropic chaos made flesh? Or perhaps that grandiosity pays too high a compliment? Can they not at least see that he is utterly pathetic, as pointless as any slime mold, but with none of the biological interest and uniqueness that might justify attention or curiosity?
Does not at least some part of them—some deep, animal instinct for self-preservation—cause the hackles to rise on the backs of their necks when they get too close to this person? Do they not find that he would be worthy of pity if he were not so inescapably repugnant, so completely deserving of each and every bad thing that happens to him?
What if you knew such a person? What if that person were part of your life, and had been for as long as you could remember? You’re encouraged to love this person, but that’s akin to someone recommending that you love Jeffrey Dahmer, or Timothy McVeigh, Pol Pot, or the Boston Strangler. Maybe Jesus, the Buddha, the Dalai Lama, or other similarly elevated souls could honestly find it in their hearts to love this person, but for you…well, for you, a mere mortal, how can your attempts at love not be overwhelmed by all the ways in which this person is unlovable, the things you find impossible to ignore, even while others either brush them aside, or don’t seem to notice them in the first place?
Imagine some people even offered or suggested methods by which you could physically, neurologically, change how you respond to this person. But that would surely be akin to imbibing Marx’s opiate of the masses. Do they really think you would consider it a good idea to blind yourself to the presence of such a negative force? Do they really think that such ignorance could ever be bliss?
They don’t know what you know. If they did…well, if they did, they would share your loathing.
Imagine you knew such a person. Imagine this person worked in the same place you worked, shared your commute, watched the same videos, read the same books; imagine you could never be free of this person’s reactions to these things, that you could never not be given their commentary on whatever you tried to enjoy, that their enjoyment made you suspicious that your own enjoyment was inappropriate, or even prurient.
Imagine that this person was with you wherever you went, waiting for you when you awakened in the morning, and still there when you finally were able to get them to stop annoying you enough that you were able to get to sleep—for too short a time, giving too little rest. You never know a moment’s peace or freedom from this person in your waking life, and they often invade even your dreams.
There is no way you can escape from this person while you are alive, no way you can live free from the presence of the most loathsome, the most pernicious little odious vermin that Nature ever suffered to crawl upon the surface of the Earth, no respite from the disgust engendered by this person’s presence…
…because that person is you. That person is yourself.
What would you do?