I had no distinction of and no accountability for my base
nature. From time to time it ran wild. Those are the times of my
life I'm least proud of. Those times of my life are hardest to
the movie of
from my base nature. I'm mortified, withered, shocked at myself. Yet
I'm riveted, transfixed. I can't look away. There's me up
there on the silver screen really doing what I'm doing, really saying
what I'm saying. That's hard to confront. Base nature is hard to
confront. It's even harder to own.
In the olio of human behavior, cruelty epitomizes base
nature to me. The cruelty in my own base nature is my hardest past to
live with. Whether it was distinguished at the time or not, it's hard
to confront. And especially if it was distinguished at the
time, it's even harder to confront. It doesn't make any difference
whether or not my base nature was directed at animals or at human
beings although for the most part it's been easiest to clean it
up afterwards when it was directed at human beings.
I'm confronting instances of cruelty in my life before
when I was barely a teenager, and earlier. I'm not confronting them to
wallow in them nor to make myself wrong for what I did.
I'm confronting them to experience them fully without judgement, to be
accountable for what I did, to take responsibility for what I did, and
with what I did. I'm responsible for what I did before
not because of this reason nor because of
that reason, not because I'm to blame for
what I did before
nor because I should take responsibility for what I did
I'm responsible for what I did before
because I say I'm responsible for what I did before
I'm confronting instances in my life when I was cruel to animals. I
poke a chameleon with a sharp stick. It dies. I shoot frogs in a pond
with a BB gun. Many die. I hurt a
my pet cocker spaniel Sancho given to me by
I named him Sancho after Sancho Panza, Don Quixote's companion in the
1602 novel "Don Quixote" by Spanish author Don Miguel de Cervantes
Saavedra. I was sad (but it was my own doing) when
concerned, then gave Sancho to my uncle Lenny who promptly renamed him
Tweeger. Tweeger lived a long and happy life with uncle Lenny
and his family.
Don't ask me why I was cruel in those instances. I
Many years later in my life, now
I clean it up with the chameleon, with the frogs, and with Sancho. I go
into my own space where they still live as me. I say I've no
explanation for my cruelty to them. I say I've got a base nature as do,
I suspect, all human beings although I'm careful not to use it as an
I apologize to the chameleon. I apologize to the frogs. I apologize to
Sancho. I ask their forgiveness. An amazing thing happens. A miracle
occurs right there and then when
reaches back and
my past. I get the chameleon
me. I get the frogs
me. I get Sancho
me. I get they've forgiven me. I'm so moved my eyes mist over then
spill tears onto my face. I cry softly - with relief, with
release. I get I
them. I get I always
them. But back then in my life before
them with no accountability coming from my base nature.
them coming from
I'm confronting instances in my life when I was cruel to human beings.
There's an old adage which says "Sticks and stones can break my
bones but words can never hurt me". I see how dead
wrong it is. It's verbal cruelty (saying something or
not saying something) which can cause the deepest hurt.
It's arduous looking into this. First I see my own base
nature. That's hard enough to confront. Then I see men's
base nature. Don't ask me if men's base nature is crueler than women's.
I don't know that either. I suspect it is although I'm careful, again,
not to use it as an excuse. It's an awful realization:
"man's inhumanity to man" is a self-serving myth, a lie in
fact. It's "men's inhumanity to man" whether we, the
boys of summer, like it or not. It's our base nature. Even as I
give space to my own base nature, even as I let it be and
simply observe it without making it wrong, as a man I
stand ashamed for the repercussions of men's base nature
in the world, for the possibility killer it is, totally
disproportionate to women's.
The way I complete instances in my life when I was cruel to human
beings (those times when I said something or didn't say
something which caused hurt) this way:
I make a list of anyone and everyone, dead or alive, I
know I've hurt. Then, over a period of almost a year I
systematically set out to contact each of them and complete with them.
There are a couple of hundred people on this list.
are on this list. All the people who
me and whom I
yet am inconsiderate of and unkind to are also on this list. With some
of them I haven't had any contact in decades. Part of the process is to
locate them, wherever they are on
I do this through telephone calls (local and international - I spend a
small fortune on international telephone calls), making
inquires, writing letters
has not yet arrived on the scene).
Eventually I contact almost everyone on the list. I 'fess up. I
apologize. I ask for forgiveness, and I say I'm OK if they don't grant
it. The thing is, I say, I know what I did, I know what it
cost me, and I invent a new possibility of being honest, open, and
respectful. People are very, very generous. They get it. They forgive
me. There's nothing left.
I also complete with those who've died, and with those I can't trace,
like this: I go into my own space where they still live as me. I say
I've no explanation for my cruelty to them. I say I've got a base
nature as do, I suspect, all human beings although I'm
careful, as before, not to use it as an excuse. I apologize. I ask for
forgiveness. It works - just as it works with Sancho. I am, after all,
the keeper of the cruelty of my own base nature whenever it showed up
directed to animals or to human beings.