Last night I read the first 117 pages of Freedom. The reviewers are right. It is addicting, well-written and I cannot put it down. However, as I am reading it, I get the distinct feeling that I really hate this book. I hate it for reasons that could surprise some people who think I am just a complete cynic. The fact is, I am also, very, very much an optimist when it comes to the nature of human beings. So, I don’t like that as I am reading this book, I keep thinking to myself, yep, I know exactly what is coming next and it is not very good at all.
Look, don’t get me wrong. There are days when I look around the world we live in and think that it is so terrible and that people treat each other so badly, that I wish that God would just end it all that afternoon. There are some terrible things in this world, and I, for one am not someone that believes in ignoring the awful things in the world for the sake of being naively positive. However, as awful as we treat one another in this world, at the same time, I truly believe that we are capable of great things and great kindnesses as human beings. That is why as much as today may suck, tomorrow may suck, and next week may suck, I refuse to give in to complete despair. But in this book, you just feel like, wow, these people all just despair more and more over time. It is just all of the things that I don’t want to be. I know that my life hasn’t exactly turned out according to what I would have idealized. There are things that make me sad, but that is no excuse for treating other people like crap or suddenly deciding to behave in unethical ways because I am sad about something. I realized this the second that I saw that movie American Beauty a very long time ago. People raved about it, and I just thought it was horrible; because, can you really care if horrible people come to horrible ends? How is that compelling?
Granted, I could be completely wrong, because I am only 118 pages in and this book is over 500 pages long, so I could read another 118 pages tonight (which I plan on doing) and find out that it has totally changed in tone. But I doubt it. And that makes me sad, too. Because even if a happy outcome isn’t always possible (and in this mortal life, it most assuredly is not always possible, as rarely do people get everything that they hope for), I at least want to fathom that it may be possible. Or that, at the very least, people are redeemable in some way.
I try to reserve my absolute cynicism for politicians only, please.