Rat god

I spend a lot of time alone in a basement, surrounded by rats. Because of my sacharin nature, I have not been able to keep my foolish heart from becoming attached to my furry little experimental subjects. Some experiments that I conduct require me to sit in silence for long periods of time as I watch my rats explore, freeze, groom, poop, or otherwise ruin my experiment. Naturally, my brilliant mind wanders. Often, it wanders straight into crazy town (see below).

I hate how afraid my rats are of me. Every time I open up their cages to deftly pick them up at the base of their tails and gently place them in whatever experimental apparatus I pre-ordained for them that day, they flail their little feet as if I was doing something horribly torturous. Usually the task my rats are being drama queens about is something fairly benign from my point of view, like placing them into a large round container for 5 minutes while absolutely nothing bad happens to them – I’m just there to observe how much time they spend hugging the edges of the circle versus strutting confidently in the middle (this is a measure of anxiety). Then right back they go to the comfort of their own little homes.

I wish I could explain to them that I come in peace, that I mean them no harm. I wish I could explain to them that the bizarre little rituals I’m putting them through are for a reason. A grand reason that no street rat – whose miserable little existence comprises of  slinking around city dumpsters to forage for food before it gets eaten by a hawk or poisoned by pest control – would ever dream of. These lab rats of mine will never have such a gritty existence because these are no ordinary rats. They have special genetic mutations that cause them to over produce the “bad” form of a protein so that they begin to resemble humans with Alzheimer’s disease as they age. Almost everything about them – how anxious they are, how long it takes them to fall asleep, how well they learn a new task, how quickly they will give up in a challenging task, where and how much pathology is in their brains – could be an important key to helping millions of humans with Alzheimer’s disease. Think about how many humans aren’t even blessed with that sort of distinct purpose.

Another scientist in another lab created this rat strain for such a time as this. We didn’t kidnap their ancestors off the streets to fulfill our evil scientific schemes – these rats would not even exist if not for scientists. And then they came to me. I decide what happens in their lives. Some I randomly assign to be breeders. As such they get to have lots of great sex and raise little families. #toblessedtobestressed But most rats I assign for my experiments. They could be designated to a very short experiment, and the last thing they ever experience will be mild confusion in a weird new box before they join the Big Rat in the Sky. Or, they could be involved in a very long, complicated experiment in which they will be subject to all sort of weird environments, some even mildly aversive or painful, and have a lot of interaction with a large scary mammal who smells like coffee and tacos. Sometimes this large scary mammal seems sinister – most of them remember her taking them into a new, stinky room, losing consciousness, and then waking up with their head screaming in pain. But sometimes this large scary mammal seems compassionate – they also remember her visiting them at home when they had headaches, and giving them yummy food that eased the ache in their heads. This large scary mammal also frequently put them in stressful situations, but never seemed to let anything actually bad happen to them. Until, well… They don’t like to think about why all those cousins never came back that one time.

I am, essentially, Rat god.

I’m much more advanced, capable, powerful than these critters -why do I want to explain myself to them? Why do I care what they think about me? Why do I want to make myself known to them?

Because they’re cute.

ratcute

And this has led me to have a thought that’s probably wildly irreverent. One part of the Christian story that never made tons of sense to me was why God would ever choose to reveal himself to us. Why not just let us go about our dumb petty lives and then die, never the wiser? But my stint as Rat god has made me wonder.. What if God decided to work humankind into his plan and reveal himself to us because, well… he thinks we’re cute?

ratgod

 

Just think it over before you immediately dismiss it, that’s all I ask!

 

— Editorial Notes —

Obviously the God-as-kind-scientist metaphor can only go so far, but that’s ok. I’m not trying to design a new religion, so everyone spit out that grapefruit-flavored Topo Chico you just drank!

Do you suffer from delusions of petiteur?

solar_system

My very first “about something” post for little Galloblog was titled “Dismounting the activism high horse.” I wrote about how I had stopped feeling the need to use my social media accounts to change the world. I recommended shifting the focus from grandiose goals for world change (“I’m going to combat world hunger!”) to realistic goals for changing your immediate surroundings (“I’m going to bring dinner to a struggling family I heard about from a mutual friend”).

I still agree with that post, to a certain degree. But I also wonder if I’ve gone too far in the other direction. Should I ignore the ills of the world? Can I really do nothing positive to help people that aren’t in my immediate circle? Mais non! Consider the following brilliant points:

One, there is a circularity to this thinking. My former conviction to focus on those around me has also fostered a callousness and indifference to The World. I know I can’t stop poverty or racism or men wearing crop-tops, so I don’t let myself think or learn about those social ills. I hate knowing about a problem and not being able to fix it. I’ve convinced myself I can’t fix it, so I ignore it. But of course my astute readers can see the circularity here – we ignore problems so they persist, they persist so we ignore them. 

Two, occasionally one person or a handful of people actually do something that is good. Women and men did come together and advocate for women’s right to vote in the United States, and now women can vote. That didn’t solve all inequality and sexism out there, but it was a good thing. Something that was worth knowing about and fighting for.

Three, sometimes even meager improvements – in relation to the grand scale of the problem – are very impactful to certain individuals. Chemotherapy didn’t cure cancer, and many people still die from cancer. But the development of chemotherapy as cancer treatment has allowed some people with cancer to live much longer than they would without. Does more still need to be done? Of course. But chemotherapy was worth working on.

Finally, sometimes you have to do the best you can with what you know, all the while knowing that you are also going to introduce some new or different bad in your attempt to bring about good. The medical community has made great progress in treatment and prevention of infectious diseases, so now we’re much more likely to die from horrible chronic diseases. Still, I’m extremely happy that dying from diarrhea is no longer a major threat to our society.

Some big issues are worth caring about and working toward. And maybe different people are more prone to and qualified for working toward different scales of change – whether that be at the macro (world hunger!), mezzo (hungry children in my congressional district!), micro (one hungry family in my neighborhood!).. nano (hungry rats in my attic?!) level. But I doubt anyone’s off the hook.. so shake off your delusions of petiteur and do something grande. 😉

*awkwardly remounts the horse*

Jojo Fletcher Mount GIF by The Bachelorette - Find & Share on GIPHY

 

 

I refuse to love you exactly the way you are

“Why can’t you love me for who I am?”

You’ve heard some variation of this question, whether from someone you actually know or while watching some dramatic interaction on the telly. It’s usually a question that doesn’t really want a real answer. It’s typically asked to shame the other person more than anything else. The implicit assumption is that real love wouldn’t want or ask for someone to change anything about themselves.

Toy Story 4 Disney GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

I’m not sure if that’s true. Here is why.

  • You will change, guaranteed
    • As the renowned Timothy Keller points out in the Meaning of Marriage, you should never be so enamored by the person your partner is right now that you would be devastated if they ever change. Why? Because they definitely will. Experience changes us. Time changes us. Relationships change us! It’s inevitable.
  • You should want to change
    • Everyone has varying degrees of ickiness in themselves. Let’s take for example, me. I like myself. I think I’m pretty legit. Yet, I know I have flaws. My acknowledgment of my flaws doesn’t lead me to severe self-hatred, but I do want to tame or obliterate them depending on their severity.
  • People who love you should want you to change
    • My friends and family who support me in moving forward and becoming a better version of myself are good for me. I am thankful for them. Who wants a friend spitting out their tobacco and snarling “You think you’re better than us?” and resenting your growth? Not I, said the fly.  
  • You cannot change everything about yourself
    • An important distinction in this entire Chat du Change is to strive for – and hope for, in others – changes that are actually possible and/or likely. I may not like that I can be overly emotional sometimes, but barring a drastic personality change I’m not likely to become a stoic anytime soon. BUT, I can still hope to change how much I am controlled by my wavepool of feels.  
The Exorcist Look Doc I Really Dont Understand How Her Whole Personality Could Change GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

All that being said, I also know it’s foolish to enter into a relationship (romantic or otherwise) wanting and expecting someone to change in the exact way that I want — especially if that person shows no signs of wanting that change themselves. Or, even if they appreciate the idealized version of themselves, they are making little to no progress getting there.

[IMPORTANT ADDENDUM 04/12/19: I have had a few fellas that became very smitten with a version of Cgallo that wasn’t real. It’s a little delicate, but maybe the best scenario is to have clear double vision — the ability to see and love who someone is now, but also the ability to see, love, and support a future version of themselves that they see and want to become too. I think?! I ain’t no relationship therapist! ]

Altogether, I think what might be important is surrounding yourself with people who are excited for and encourage you to be the person you could and will probably turn into. Anddddd can put up with your flaws in the meantime. God bless ‘em!

Thank U GIF by Mauro Gatti - Find & Share on GIPHY

Beware of inclement-weather friends

You’ve heard of fair-weather friends- those friends who are only with you in the good times. The friends who dip out when times get rough. They’re only by your side when the sun is shining brightly and you are paying for their Chipotle.

I must admit, howevers, that I haven’t had much experience with fair weather friends. When I’m feeling sadsies, especially about single or break-up angst, I’m surrounded by sympathetic friends who want to pat my head, take me out to coffee, and send me stockphotos of beach sunrises beset with inspirational Psalms in script writing. They are there with me in the storm. 

And all that is great. But recently I’ve noticed that many of these Sympathetic Sallies disappear when the sun starts peaking out again. If I’m doing well – especially relationship wise – I would estimate … hmmm … ~52% of these ladies go MIA. 

Perhaps I’m not being completely fair, but I have started to wonder if people who are unhappy actually relish hanging out with other people who are unhappy. But when their friend’s happiness increases, they begin to avoid them. 

They are inclement-weather friends. Only with you in the bad times. Dip out when times start looking up. They’re only by your side when the storm is raging and they’re paying for your Chipotle. 

Why are inclement weather friends a thing? I’m not 100% sure, but I think it may have something to do with the power dynamics of a relationship and pride. If someone is suffering, you can be their rock, comforter, life-line. It elevates you. When someone is rejoicing though, you lose power. You become more like a kindly Gma cheering on your friend. And maybe you start to resent them because you think if anyone deserves their life to pick up, it’s you– not this miserable little skank who could barely function without you a few months ago!  

Here’s to the ppls who can mourn and rejoice with their friends through all sorts of types of weather and nonsensical weather changes. I’ll call them.. Georgia weather friends. God bless you all 😀 

Evil Triumphs When Men Do Bad, Stupid, or Ineffective Things

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” ~Edmund Burke

This quote has begun to annoy me immensely. I’ve seen it used by conservatives and liberals alike as a rallying cry for political action. Yet usually the call for action of conservatives is to counteract whatever cause liberals want “good men” to act on. So who is good, and what is evil?

There are so many assumptions in this quote that are almost hardly ever true —  1) They, (the quoter) are good 2) Their followers / friend groups are good 3) They know what’s evil and what isn’t evil 4) action of any kind by good people can defeat evil.

Prob numero uno: what makes people good? Well… what they do!* So if good men are doing nothing, are they really good? And if good men do something with good intentions that has unintended consequences that end up producing bad, are those good men now bad? Ack, the circularity! Prob numero dos: If good men do “something” that is just all-round ineffective and ends up changing nothing, wouldn’t evil still triumph? Ack, the incompleteness!

Let’s put some of this in more concrete terms and use gun control activists and 2nd amendment supporters as a relevant example. Pro-gunners say “Rise up good men and defend our 2nd amendment rights so we can protect ourselves against the tyranny of government and rando criminals!” and anti-gunnerssay “Rise up good people** and add constraints to the 2nd amendment so the government can protect us from rando criminals!” Both of these groups think they know what the greater evil is, and both of these groups think they are the “good” ones.

Let’s be as generous as possible, and agree that the majority of people that belong to either group truly want a safe society. So who’s evil? Probably neither, really. But if one of those groups does “something,” the other group will very likely see the outcome as evil. And if one of those groups does “nothing,” the other group will think they have defeated evil. Also, let’s say either is right. What do they do? Should pro-gun people run around town shooting their AR-15s in the air to prove a point? Should anti-gun people raid people’s houses, steal their guns, and melt them down to use as gardening tools? Even if neither pro-gun people or anti-gun people are evil, surely you can appreciate how they could both start acting in ways that many people on both sides would see as evil. And evil would triumph.

I guess the main point of this ramble is that there has to be a balance somewhere between passive apathy and taking the time to think about and research 1) what’s really “evil” in any given situation and 2) what sort of action would actually be “good.” There is a difference between stubbornly refusing to act in the face of evil – when there is an obvious good action – and taking time to learn and understand at least *some* of the facets of a really complicated issue. Similarly, there is a difference between acting emotionally, passionately, “spinning your wheels,”etc. and actually doing something effective.

Now the main point of the main point: I want to be willing to consider that the outcome of my actions, no matter how well intended, could be evil. And if I’m going to act, I want to take some time to think about the best course of action — and that will likely involve having non-antagonistic convos with people who do not see the world exactly as I do.

Btdubs I’m not trying to be wishy-washy and say there is no truth or no evil or whatever, but I have Christian friends who would be disgusted by the political actions of my Christian parents, and my parents would be appalled by some of their activism. So especially within this community – which should be empowered by the same Spirit and working toward the same end goal – we should be willing to at least entertain the idea for 30 seconds that we could learn something from our sibs in the Lort!

This is good stuff y’all. I’m going to applaud myself.

😉 Dr. Galloswag out!

— EDITORIAL NOTES —
*I actually think that someone’s heart makes them good or evil. But as Jesus said, “you will know [evil men] by their fruit,” and as James said “I will show you my faith BY my good works.” The point is- only God knows what’s truly in our own and others hearts and so we can use people’s behavior as a proxy for where their heart is.
**Because pc, yo