On the Puissance of Exclusion
I wrote the following a tad more than a year ago, but it has become relevant once again, and now there can be no question of deliberateness. It has been redacted for appropriateness. New commentaries are italicized.
It’s facile. It can be conscious or unconscious but the blowback is still manages to be a disquieting blend of gelid and torrid. At its worst, it’s a saber, impaling you squarely in your self-concept. At it’s best, it’s a melancholic wave superimposed through your core.
And what are you to do? Confront them for their myopia or malice? Your mild manner and pacifist views will fetter you, leaving you with a fermenting, fecund seed of travail. The social contract is seemingly interminable in its restrictions and injustice, is it not?
For a while, I contemplated whether or not to post this. I balked from concern that those who know me would know the incident that sparked this post, and consequently drive me to guilt and other unpleasant emotions. In truth, it is not a single incident. Much of my life has been filled with exclusion, for reasons widely speculated upon, but nevertheless wholly unbeknownst to me. It is years of attrition leading to a grand collapse. But, even taking this into account, the need to say something, to play even an infinitesimal role in making people see their paucity of rectitude in their callous decisions, is enough for me. That statement does seem to suggest a messiah complex, but I assure you the sentiment behind it is one of bitterness, not salvation.
When excluding someone, queries about that individual’s self-worth arise.
“Was I not close enough to the organizing party to be a part of this event?”
“Does he or she not consider me as close a friend as I do them?”
“Am I simply not worth spending time with beyond what is obligatory?”
The salvo of questions continues to bombard at the individual’s self-esteem, devoid of closure. Frankly, if that is something you seek to inflict on another human being, you had better be sure that the infraction they have committed is of tantamount turpitude to the suffering you are about to unleash upon them, and if even an iota of doubt remains, you out to reconsider. You can rationalize it however you like, but when you exclude someone you lose all moral standing in the argument. All you can do is remorsefully entreat for forgiveness.
In that way, accidental ostracizing is arguably worse. It was not deliberate. You inflicted psychological torture on someone who never deserved it, who wracked his brain to think about what led to his debarring. You offer a meek apology, an expression of your contrition, a feeble attempt to assuage the obstreperous mix of emotions in your friend’s mind, but the past is immutable. You cannot undo the blunder. Then your friend begins to think.
“What if it wasn’t an accident?”
“What if it was, in fact, deliberate and this was just another nail in the coffin, to keep me under his thumb?”
And just like that, in your carelessness, you have unleashed a tortuous chain of ambivalence. In a sense, this form of exclusion is even more excruciating, because this ambivalence is second to all the previous thoughts.
I was recently excluded from something that most of my close friends were invited to and attended. The blow was unsparing. It struck me and imbibed in me something fetid and swollen. For clarity, that would be the bitterness laying heavy in my breast. And then I was told it was an accident, a simple careless act built on a false premise. I think I believe it. Ah youthful naievete. Optimism is fuel for the blaze of callowness, after all. I truly hope that that was the case, because if it weren’t, then it would follow that I have false premises about the nature of my friendships.
Most begrudgingly, it seems I must accept that the melancholic syllogism I just presented is the reality. At least, it bears the verisimilitude of reality. I suppose it proves that all faces bear masks. We all have personas that we don in specific company, and personas we sheathe away. I suppose those environments where authority is not imposed are the ones where the masks crack apart into dust, and reveal the monstrous countenances that call forth the jubilant pandemonium.