A dear old friend of mine read my book, Brave Fish, and mentioned Chapter 25 as one of his favorites. So I decided to share it in it’s entirety here… Thanks Rob!
WHAT if I committed a crime? What drives me to transgress? For this is truth: it drives me. First an idea hatches in my brain, from where I am not precisely sure. What gave birth to this egg full of malice and hell? Perhaps I have been programmed then incubated by this wicked world so that the egg must hatch. Or is it some deep autonomous natural desire demanding to exist? So it collects there, this fine tinder for sin. It sits in tufts of dried grass loosely wound, and the slightest spark will move me into a blaze beyond control.
Intellectually, I know it to be wrong. It goes against the moral law written in every heart, but the world seeks to crush this moral law with me along for the ride. Even worse, I make it all relative. At least I’m not as bad as so-and-so; at least I haven’t done such-and-such. At the end of the line I compare myself with Lucifer himself. So what is it? What drives me to hurdle such a high risk/benefit ratio? Because I want it; thought alone creates a spark raising tinder to inferno.
There it is. I want. I want my desire to be transformed into reality. As I speak, I want it to exist. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. Well two can play at that game. I want it so I’m going to get it. I speak not about a sudden flush of anger. This plan unfolds meticulously. The criminal mind forever carries one disadvantage – desire. This leads one to rush and to overlook important details. I rationalize everything to satisfy one goal: the fulfillment of my desire. So as the mind works and reasons, risk suddenly shrinks to nothing, and the stain of morality is easily rubbed away.
So I’m planning it all; it is a first degree, premeditated transgression yet oddly spontaneous. Imagining me in the act raises my excitement, and so as I plan it I live it. The vision inches closer to reality until the two merge into one. I simply just can’t wait. Then I become a repeat offender and this defines my insanity – vaulting risk into oblivion again and again and again.
Should I blame my humanity? This causes me to shudder, for if all suffer from this affliction then we are certainly overwhelmed as a race. Does that nice man I admire, for all his goodness, also harbor somewhere deep down within him wickedness like mine? I’m only human, goes the refrain. Perhaps the good man only controls it better. How many good men have been unmasked by scandal? And yet, not all commit the crime. What makes me a criminal? What is it that blinds me to everything but my caprice?
It is the best word, caprice. Fittingly from French and Italian origins it is all about passion. It is a whim, a shivering, the frisk of the goat, and my hair standing on end in terror – terrified of myself for what I have wrought. I’m just tickled with delight to see it through. It seems wired in a short circuit to my survival instinct as a fight or flight situation plucks the same nerves. So I strum my instrument in staccato and dance with Pan to the tune.
How seductive it all is. How disarmingly and alarmingly seductive! How can I resist? For in my crime I feel free and in ecstasy. Am I then depraved? Even later in life, when I have put aside the gravest maladies, I continue to fall prey to other seductions that spit in the eye of wisdom and truth. If I have attained the consciousness of the good man, my transgressions carry all the more weight.
By nature I am filthy rags, and my depravity is woven into me since birth. Whether or not I am totally corrupted matters little, but what I do about it matters most. If what I am, think or do does any harm, it requires smiting – or is it healing? Perhaps there remains little distance between the two. Some eye the needle of the physician as an instrument of absolute terror.
So do I a name my crime, or more accurately, my crimes? A lie, a theft, a murder or adultery, maybe I am guilty of all of these. How many commandments have I disobeyed? In these studies my performance was exemplary. Maybe sharing it all would be a crime as well as if my sin could be washed away by a public confession. I skip around the truth, yearning to describe it all here and now. If I do so, I can only find the courage in God’s grace, but perhaps there I encounter prudence instead. I let the reader use imagination to fill in the blanks – and there they may discover their own concupiscence, whether it is in the longing to participate or in the lust of judgment. Either way I am condemned.