I tried denying it, but then, as is traditional with enlightenment, it was now in everything he said and well… said.
Roughly two weeks ago, my life was obstructed by an annoying truth:
‘You know, you don’t actually like that other podcaster, do you?’
That other podcaster is one of two hosts of a political podcast I frequent. He is that very wrong kind of aggressive, while the other host has the ability to concede, and as it happens, he is a little more like me. I spent some time in denial, before I just came out and said it. I then prepared for a break-up that never did happen. It turns out that I can live with it, and that the richness of the podcast is still very rich indeed. Of course, there had to be some very valid reason for my failure to break it off, especially during that very difficult time where I’d first emerged from denial. I settled on necessity.
It was a necessary evil– forcing myself to look alienation in the face, along with the on-the-face-of-it harm that I was doing in exposing myself to a ‘wrong and difficult person’. My expectation was that I would become further intolerant to difference– different people, different ways of getting things across, different opinions; I would then unconsciously transfer this to my perception of others, alienating them with distance and loaded, ugly facial expressions. But ‘necessary’ has rarely worked harder than it does here. The word speaks to the reward that eclipses the aforementioned risk. Immunity is a precious thing.
The first known idea to be described as a ‘necessary evil’ was women. It was the Greek that said so, analogised by Pandora and her box of curses in the Greek poem from 700 BC. I was nine when I was first taught to perceive her as Christianity’s ‘Eve’. Alongside her benefit to the evolution of man, her unleashing of evil into the world allowed for the light of goodness to be strengthened by a challenger.
The podcaster in question is not an evil I must confront. Rather, it is my own evil– my subconscious attempt to vilify a man over a difference in character, ‘evil’ differences. In a 2018 Surveymonkey poll, ‘evil’ ranked fourth within a set of adjectives that both Democrats and Republicans often use to describe one another. ‘Evil’ of course has a comfortable home in issues of morality, laws, and the imposing of ideals. But from experience, our opinions on how each of us should live can be as polarising as our marmite personalities and mannerisms; which may not align with ideas of good and evil like they do personal taste and bias.
We abstain from exposing ourselves to difference. My twitter following list is a group of people I find myself agreeing with, as is yours. But in 2023, there are simply too many cases for the effectiveness of doing the opposite. When it is not an opinion that disgusts us, but a person, we owe it to ourselves to actively work against the hatred that once analysed, often becomes unreasonable. It becomes unreasonable, because people become more than their ‘edgy’ traits upon closer inspection. The frustrating podcaster is a good orator, a sharp analyser propped up by decades of experience. He can be funny too.
If I had not stomached his less desirable parts, I would’ve done away with the full scope of the man, the goodness that stands out, all due to the gloom of him. Now I have the immunity for difference, a reward that at some point may save my life and yours. I have less of a weakness for closed, dismissive ideas of other people, and a will to debunk needless loathing. I’m glad this became a sooner rather than later thing.