I have changed radically about some things over the years, but probably none of those changes have been as great as the ways that I feel about people who are viewed as evil or criminal. When I was young, I was eager to see criminals or foreign political enemies killed. Today, I don’t view such people though rose-colored glasses and I don’t view them as blameless folks who are going to turn their lives around if we just think happy thoughts. But I can’t celebrate the death of anybody, even if he might deserve it in some ways of thinking about it. Even if it’s sometimes necessary to kill someone — and those cases are often debatable — I regret the death of someone who will now never have a chance to discover love and change his life. There are some evil people in this world, but I can’t celebrate their deaths.
There was a time when I was idealistic enough to believe that if a writer expressed his thoughts clearly and simply enough, any bright and honest person would understand his point. I know better now. We all bring so many unconscious assumptions to the things we read that we often see what we expect to see instead of what the writer intended. This is incredibly frustrating to me as a writer, but I’m trying more and more to just say what I need to say — as clearly as I know how — and then ignore the inevitable responses which show that others perceived something which was not intended. I have to write for those who “get” where I’m coming from, not for those who see my words through personal filters that change my meaning. I hope my intentions are clear to you and I hope what I write can be useful to you, but if not, maybe my work just isn’t right for you. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
I found out this evening that someone I casually knew killed himself last Wednesday. I didn’t know him well — and I never found him personable — but he had started work a couple of months ago at a restaurant where I go. He was a 26-year-old who struck me as a confused and unhappy person, but I didn’t think much about it since he stayed to himself and resisted my efforts to chat with him. It turns out that he had a history of depression and had a lot of gender confusion. He seemed very androgynous to me and I learned today that he presented himself as female in some situations. He was rejected by a romantic interest last week, so he went to the woods and killed himself. His body wasn’t found for three days. It’s tragic how miserable people around us can be and how we so rarely know the truth about things they struggle with.