A friend once told me that expectations lead to unhappiness because disappointment inevitably follows from the world’s lack of conformity to our desires.
So it’s better to be a realist.
Still, reality can be a hard pill to swallow. The Catholic Church, for example, has particular stances on particular issues. And those of us raised Catholic, but who have strayed from the flock, may sometimes think: I could still be Catholic, only if…
Ben Brenkert wrote a piece for the Washington Post entitled, “I thought I could be a gay Jesuit priest. I can’t believe how wrong I was“.
It would be ignorant of me to make a snide remark about his naivete, as some commenters did. The desire for acceptance is all too human, and this includes believing it really can happen.
No longer being Catholic, I don’t think I have the right to say what the Catholic Church should or should not be. Their acceptance of homosexuality is not to be expected anytime soon, nor is it reasonable to expect that a 2,000 year old religious institution is going to accept the dictates of a liberal secularist viewpoint less than a half century old.
I say this not as justification of the Church’s position – after all, I agree with the the liberal secularist view of homosexuality – but simply as realism.
The Church has a right to define its position, and those like myself who don’t like it have a right to leave, as I did.
I don’t mean to imply that this is an easy choice. It is not. There is a disorientation that results from leaving one’s community behind. It is, to borrow a phrase from Dan Barker (evangelical preacher turned atheist), psychologically expensive.
He had the courage to take matters into his own hands, and this is no easy choice. But in identifying as a victim, the choice he made is important: a key element of victimhood too often is helplessness, which is to say it’s others who need to change. Getting out of the victimehood rut means making choices for oneself.
We cannot control anyone else’s behaviour. But the expectation that we should be able to leads only to unhappiness because it’s unrealistic.
Such a viewpoint is typically called victim blaming. But it is not. I am not saying one is at fault for the original situation, but rather that one does have the ability, if one so chooses, to reclaim one’s power of action.